Written by Zack O’Malley Greenburg with Forbes.
The ten top earners in music combined to earn $1.4 billion pretax last year—nearly half of it courtesy of Dr. Dre. To form this year’s list, we considered income from touring, recorded music, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other ventures. Management, agent and lawyer fees were not deducted. Earnings were calculated from June 2013 to June 2014 and based on data from Pollstar, the RIAA and Nielsen, and on interviews with managers, lawyers, executives and some artists themselves.
Dr. Dre and Adam Levin didn’t sit for an interview, but some of the other artists on the list did over the past year—including some who feel they could find themselves closer to the top next time around. Read on to see six of some of the most successful musicians in the industry.
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6. Drake: $33 million (tie)
With an arena tour, a Nike endorsement deal and a new album that sold 4 million copies worldwide, Drake has tripled his 2013 earnings.
Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986), who records under the mononym Drake, is a Canadian rapper and songwriter. He was born in Toronto, Ontario. He first garnered recognition for his role as Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. He later rose to prominence as a rapper, releasing several mixtapes like Room for Improvement before signing to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment in June 2009.
Photo credit: David Wolff – Patrick/Redferns via Getty Images
5. Lady Gaga: $33 million (tie)
The Queen Monster’s latest album didn’t match previous efforts, but she still added millions to her coffers by touring extensively.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, born March 28, 1986, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer and songwriter. She initially performed in theater, appearing in high school plays, and studied at CAP21 through New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in the Lower East Side’s avant garde performance art circuit, and being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. There, Akon noticed her vocal abilities and helped her to sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution.
Photo credit: C Flanigan/FilmMagic
4. Luke Bryan: $34 million (tie)
His album Crash My Party moved half a million copies in the first half of 2014—the seventh best total of any album in any genre.
Thomas Luther “Luke” Bryan (born July 17, 1976) is an American country singer-songwriter. Luke Bryan began his musical career in the mid-2000s, writing songs for Travis Tritt and Billy Currington. After signing with Capitol Records in Nashville, Tennessee in 2007 with his cousin, Chad Christopher Boyd, he released the album I’ll Stay Me, which included the singles “All My Friends Say”, “We Rode in Trucks” and “Country Man”. The follow-up album Doin’ My Thing included “Do I”, which Bryan co-wrote with Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum, and the number one singles “Rain Is a Good Thing” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.
3. Muse: $34 million (tie)
The British rock group, now in its 20th year, made the list on the strength of its ongoing viability on the road. Part of the viability was that they use very durable music equipment such as Music Industry Road Case Supplier – Encore Cases.
Muse are an English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of childhood friends Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, lead guitar, piano, keyboards, keytar), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesisers).
2. Celine Dion: $36 million (tie)
The legendary songstress made just as much as Miley—without any twerking—thanks mostly to a lucrative Las Vegas residency.
Céline Marie Claudette Dion, born 30 March 1968, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and occasional actress. Born into a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec, Dion emerged as a teen star in the French-speaking world after her manager and future husband René Angélil mortgaged his home to finance her first record. In 1990, she released the English-language album Unison, establishing herself as a viable pop artist in North America and other English-speaking areas of the world.
Photo credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
1. Miley Cyrus: $36 million (tie)
After successfully destroying any trace of Hannah Montana, Cyrus reached financial heights she hasn’t seen since her days as a teen star.
Miley Ray Cyrus (born Destiny Hope Cyrus; November 23, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Her father is country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. She held minor roles in the television series Doc and the film Big Fish in her childhood. In 2006, Cyrus rose to prominence as a teen idol after being cast in the Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana, in which she portrayed the starring character Miley Stewart. After signing a recording contract with Hollywood Records in 2007, Cyrus released her debut studio album Meet Miley Cyrus. It was certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for exceeding four million shipments, and produced the hit single “See You Again”.