The world's richest musicians aren't making their money off of songs

The world's richest musicians aren't making their money off of songs

MusicJuly 02, 2019 By Brian Frederick

Rihanna is officially the richest female musician in the world. According to Forbes, she beat out Madonna, Céline Dion and Beyoncé to snatch the crown. The outlet estimates RiRi to be worth over $600 million. That means she could buy half-a-billion Totino’s Party Pizzas right now if she wanted to, maybe a little less factoring in sales tax. Poor financial planning if she did, but she could.

As with any musician though, she’s banked a fraction of that wealth through her songs. By all available metrics, musicians don’t make diddly-squat for what they do. And never really have. 

Here’s a fun fact about Aerosmith. The iconic rock band has been together performing music globally since 1970 and has sold over 150 million albums so far. Yet none of those ever brought in more cash for them than Guitar Hero did. Licensing music to a video game was one of the band’s greatest financial come-ups.

Rihanna wasn’t the only rich musician Forbes mentioned either. Jay Z is officially the first hip-hop billionaire — with a “B.” The outlet even lists his financial accomplishments. #1: Booze. #2: Stocks and investments. #3: Booze. #4: Tidal. #5: Clothing. Not until #6 does his music catalog make an appearance. It’s worth $75 million — about 8 percent of his overall piggybank.

It makes one wonder what people care enough to spend money on. Video games. Booze. Fashion. Late night snacks?

So to become a successful musician means becoming a successful brand. Rihanna isn’t rolling her stacks on music, she hasn’t even released a proper track in three years. The brunt of her success comes from fashion campaigns. After inking a deal with LVMH not long ago (a French luxury goods company), she put her 71 million social media followers to work buying up everything they could.

It’s not unlike the youngest Kardashian who’s actually a Jenner. She simply became the face of a makeup line and the rest of the story is written in the checks without enough space for all the zeroes. Outlets call her the youngest self-made billionaire in history. *eye roll* People love this shit.

And it’s as easy as using your greasy Google-fingers to understand the bigger picture.

The global cosmetics market is worth over $530 billion and expected to catapult to $805 billion in less than 4 years. Music on the other hand is worth $130 billion worldwide, according to IFPI. And it’s growing (“recovering” is a better word here) about as fast as your own bank account. Insufficient funds is the new 401k.

Whether or not alcohol and makeup should be more important to people than music is reserved for another episode of Dr. Phil. The numbers are there though, telling a bummer of a story. 

It doesn’t take much to reverse the trend, however. Support local artists. Buy direct from national artists whenever possible. Expand your playlists outside of major label-owned acts. Cancel Drake. Be the pocket change you wish to see in the world.