How quickly did the world's highest paid musicians make average salaries in 2018?
As we've been doing the last two years, we asked ourselves this question again in 2019.
We compiled a list of the world's best-paid musicians. Then we compared their gross 2018 income with average annual wages for common jobs - truck drivers, construction workers, musicians, nurses, and software developers.
Just like last year, the results were surprising. We knew that the world's best-paid musicians were rich, but placing their income in the context of average salaries made the difference even more stark.
This statistic captures the difference perfectly:
U2 made a software developer's annual income in less than 8 hours in 2018
We've shared a detailed infographic with our findings below. You can skip straight to it, but if you want to know how we reached this conclusion, read on.
We started this study by making a list of the world's best-paid musicians in 2018. We used data from Forbes and Billboard. For most musicians, their annual revenue included income from album sales, touring, sponsorship, and merchandise sales.
Eventually, we had 30 musicians across multiple genres. Here's how their 2018 earnings compare to the year before:
Difference in Earnings
Difference in Rankings
Guns 'n' Roses
A few things were different from last year. The overall gross of the top 25 musicians was $1.65B compared to $1.58B in 2017. There were fewer EDM acts on this list. And there were a few new entrants this year - Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Pink, Depeche Mod, Lady Gaga, Roger Waters, and Kendrick Lamar.
For the most part, however, this list had the same usual suspects - popular, established acts such as Coldplay, U2, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Metallica, etc.
Some artists such as Calvin Harris and Jimmy Buffet also had remarkable consistency, maintaining the same earnings over a two year period. This was largely due to their lucrative Las Vegas gigs
In terms of genre representation, these were the average earnings for artists across the 6 genres:
In contrast to last year, R&B stars made more money on average (only slightly) than pop stars, but had lesser representation on the list. Rock made a big comeback with 10 artists on the list and a whopping $65.9M in average earnings, thanks in big part to U2's blockbuster tour.
As earlier, Electronic/EDM artists make up the bottom of the list with only 2 represented artists. However at an average gross of $46.7M, that's not exactly a bad place to be,
This just goes to show that once a musician reaches a certain level of popularity - say, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, 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?
When comparing these musicians' incomes against average people, we choose the following 6 professions:
We added musicians to this list to compare the world's top musicians to the average performer.
Here are their average incomes as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Thus, at an hourly income of $13,470, U2 would make minimum wage in just 67 minutes, and earn as much as a competent musician in 4h 10m
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.
Top musicians, like most celebrities, make substantially higher incomes compared to regular jobs, including other musicians.
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.
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