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PROPER LIST! The World’s Top-Earning Musicians Of 2019 By Forbes

By Forbes

Ever since Taylor Swift and Kanye West’s infamous run-in at the MTV Video Music Awards a decade ago, they’ve had a relationship that could be best described as star-crossed. Now they’re duking it out for the title of music’s highest-paid act. This year, Swift wins.

The superstar songstress earned $185 million thanks to a new record deal, a bevy of endorsements and the tail end of her most recent tour, landing in the top spot on the Forbes list of Highest-Earning Musicians for the second time in five years. West was not far behind, with $150 million, thanks to a surge in sales of Yeezy sneakers.

“I am a product guy at my core,” explained West, No. 2 on the list, in an interview with Forbes for the cover of our August issue. “To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life, that’s the problem-solving that I love to do.”

Two other acts entered nine-figure territory this year: British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (No. 3, $110 million) and California rock band The Eagles (No. 4, $100 million), who both made the cut thanks to a heavy slate of gigs. The No. 5 spot is claimed by another venerable rocker, Elton John, who collected $84 million in 2019 in the midst of his farewell tour. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are tied at No. 6 with $81 million apiece. In all, the 10 highest-paid musicians in the world earned just over $1 billion pretax during our June-to-June scoring period, up from $886 million last year.

To determine our rankings, we consider income from touring, music and outside business ventures with the help of Pollstar, Nielsen Music and interviews with industry insiders including many of the stars themselves. Our list measures pretax earnings and does not deduct fees for agents, managers or lawyers. The ranking once again highlights an unfortunate reality of the music business: just ten women out of 40 names, only a marginal improvement over last year’s one-in-five ratio, while 15 people of color made the list, though five of them in the top ten.

There are nine newcomers to the 2019 list, a number of them Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni, including K-Pop supergroup BTS (No. 15, $57 million), songstress Ariana Grande (No. 22, $48 million) and hip-hop trio Migos (No. 40, $36 million). The latter diversified their on-stage earnings by inking a deal for a piece of Martell cognac, the latest example of artists learning the lesson that cash is one thing, but ownership is the key to building a fortune.

“If I’m rapping about drinking in the clubs, they’re buying bottles in the club,” says Migos cofounder Quavo. “I need to be having equity in some kind of alcohol.”

40 | Migos

2019 EARNINGS: $36 million

39 | U2

2019 EARNINGS: $37 million

38 | Celine Dion

2019 EARNINGS: $37.5 million

37 | Shawn Mendes

2019 EARNINGS: $38 million

34 (tie) | Zac Brown Band

2019 EARNINGS: $38.5 million

34 (tie) | Kendrick Lamar

2019 EARNINGS: $38.5 million

34 (tie) | Calvin Harris

2019 EARNINGS: $38.5 million

33 | Dave Matthews

2019 EARNINGS: $39 million

32 | Lady Gaga

2019 EARNINGS: $39.5 million

29 (tie) | DJ Khaled

2019 EARNINGS: $40 million

29 (tie) | Marshmello

2019 EARNINGS: $40 million

29 (tie) | The Weeknd

2019 EARNINGS: $40 million

28 | Rolling Stones

2019 EARNINGS: $41 million

27 | Luke Bryan

2019 EARNINGS: $42.5 million

26 | Jennifer Lopez

2019 EARNINGS: $43 million

25 | Guns N’ Roses

2019 EARNINGS: $44 million

24 | The Chainsmokers

2019 EARNINGS: $46 million

22 (tie) | Ariana Grande

2019 EARNINGS: $48 million

22 (tie) | Paul McCartney

2019 EARNINGS: $48 million

21 | Fleetwood Mac

2019 EARNINGS: $49 million

19 (tie) | Jimmy Buffett

2019 EARNINGS: $50 million

19 (tie) | Eminem

2019 EARNINGS: $50 million

18 | Bruno Mars

2019 EARNINGS: $51 million

17 | Billy Joel

2019 EARNINGS: $52 million

15 (tie) | BTS

2019 EARNINGS: $57 million

15 (tie) | Pink

2019 EARNINGS: $57 million

13 (tie) | Katy Perry

2019 EARNINGS: $57.5 million

13 (tie) | Justin Timberlake

2019 EARNINGS: $57.5 million

12 | Travis Scott

2019 EARNINGS: $58 million

1 | Rihanna

2019 EARNINGS: $62 million

10 | Metallica

2019 EARNINGS: $68.5 million

9 | Diddy

2019 EARNINGS: $70 million

8 | Drake

2019 EARNINGS: $75 million

6 (tie) | Beyoncé

2019 EARNINGS: $81 million

6 (tie) | Jay-Z

2019 EARNINGS: $81 million

5 | Elton John

2019 EARNINGS: $84 million

4 | The Eagles

2019 EARNINGS: $100 million

3 | Ed Sheeran

2019 EARNINGS: $110 million

2 | Kanye West

2019 EARNINGS: $150 million

1 | Taylor Swift

2019 EARNINGS: $185 million

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