With touring remaining at a standstill for parts of 2021, the lucrative sales of legacy acts' back catalogs made the biggest impact on Rolling Stone's list of last year's top 10 highest-paid musicians.
Country music's top earner, Blake Shelton, secured the ninth spot after an $83 million year. Rolling Stone reports that the country star and The Voice coach "landed a windfall north of $50 million for a previously unreported catalog sale of his own."
Shelton finishes ahead of the only woman on the list, Taylor Swift. While multiple men and all-male bands in the top 10 cashed in on selling the copyrights to their songs, Swift made part of her $80 million off re-recording studio albums for which the rights got sold in 2020 without her knowledge. Both Red (Taylor's Version) and Fearless (Taylor's Version) topped the Billboard album charts and finished among the top five highest-grossing albums of the year.
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To paint a fuller picture of how much richer the rich got from a music industry trend, rock idol and Americana pillar Bruce Springsteen topped the list after earning $590 million. In a year when The Boss played intimate, solo concerts on Broadway and collaborated with Barack Obama on Spotify podcast Renegades: Born in the USA and a book of the same title, $550 million of his earnings came from selling his masters to Sony Music Publishing.
Motley Crue, Paul Simon, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lindsey Buckingham also made the list after selling the rights to their back catalogs.
Rolling Stone's List of 2021's Top 10 Highest-Paid Musicians
10. Taylor Swift ($80 million)
9. Blake Shelton ($83 million)
8. Motley Crue ($95 million)
7. Lindsey Buckingham ($100 million)
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers ($145 million)
5. Ryan Tedder ($200 million)
4. Kanye West ($250 million)
3. Paul Simon ($260 million)
2. Jay-Z ($470 million)
1. Bruce Springsteen ($590 million)
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