How Much Did Top Musicians Make Compared to Average Jobs in 2017?
From this simple question, we started our study of the highest earning musicians in 2017 and how their incomes stack up against common jobs.
We knew that the world's highest paid musicians make a lot of money. But the difference between their incomes and average salaries took us by surprise.
This difference is perhaps best captured in this statistic:
Beyonce made the average annual minimum wage - $15,080 - in just 75 minutes in 2017
We conducted a similar study in 2016 where we compared over 40 top earning musicians across genre. You can find that study here.
For 2017's edition, we looked at the 25 highest earning musicians as per Forbes. The results were interesting indeed, as you can see below.
We started this study by making a list of the highest earning musicians in 2017. We used data primarily from Forbes and Billboard to make this list. For most musicians, this included incomes from album sales, touring, sponsorship and merchandise sales.
Eventually, we had 25 musicians across multiple genres:
Earnings Per Hour
Some things were expected. The 5 highest earning musicians were all from popular genres. You won't find a ton of heavy metal bands at the top of this list (well, except for Metallica).
Most top earning musicians were also older artists often making their money through prestige tours and royalties from extensive catalogs.
In terms of genre representation, these were the average earnings for artists across the 6 genres:
This is a big departure from last year when the highest earning musicians were all pop stars. In contrast, in 2017, we had more R&B artists and hip-hop stars. Electronic music stars, however, were at the bottom of the pool in 2017 as well as 2016 (which, at $41M in average income, isn't exactly a bad place to be!).
The most interesting stat, however, was the musicians' earnings per hour. For instance, with an annual income of $130M, Diddy made $14,840/hour in 2017.
That's 2,046x the minimum wage/hour!
2017 vs. 2016 Earnings of Top Musicians
Was there a big difference in the top earning musicians in 2017 vs. 2016?
We found that the same people that dominated the list in 2016 found a place in 2017 as well. There were a handful of new entrants - Celine Dion, Bruno Mars, and The Chainsmokers, to name a few. But the mainstays of the list - Diddy, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, etc. all found a place in 2017 as well as 2016.
Here's a quick look at the list in 2017 and how each of these musicians performed in 2016
Difference in Earnings
Difference in Rankings
A few highlights:
- Taylor Swift had the biggest drop in earnings, going from $170MM in 2016 to "just" $44MM in 2017.
- Chainsmokers, Bruno Mars, Celine Dion, and RHCP were new to this list, mostly because they started touring.
- Paul McCartney, Jennifer Lopez, and Tiesto's earnings remained largely unchanged over the two years.
- Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Chesney, McCartney, Elton John, Jimmy Buffet - all older, established artists - have a near permanent hold in the middle of the pack.
This just goes to show that once a musician reaches a certain level of popularity - say, Adele, Justin Bieber, or Calvin Harris - they can easily maintain a steady earning in the tens of millions of dollars for years.
This brings us to the gist of our analysis: how do these earnings compare against average salaries?
Highest Earning Musicians in 2017 vs. Average Salaries
When comparing these musicians' incomes against average people, we choose the following 6 professions:
- Minimum wage workers
- Truck drivers
- Elementary School Teachers
- Registered Nurses
- Real Estate Brokers
6. Software developers
Here are their average incomes as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Thus, at an hourly income of $14,840, Diddy would make minimum wage in just 61 minutes, and earn as much as a software developer in 8h24m
We've condensed all this information in a single infographic as seen below.
This is a large infographic so you'll want to see the full image to get all the details. Either click the infographic or click this link to access the full-sized infographic.
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Top musicians, like most celebrities, make substantially higher incomes compared to regular jobs.
Putting these figures in the context of time, however, shows the sheer magnitude of this difference.
If you'd like a study focusing on other professions and celebrities, shoot us an email and we'll happily explore the idea.
You have complete freedom to share this image as and where you see fit. However, we invested hundreds of man hours in designing and researching this data. In return for freely sharing this image, we only ask you to link to this page - Highest earning musicians in 2017 vs. average salaries - when sharing.