When Destiny’s Child released the song “Independent Women” at the start of the decade in 2000, the girl group’s lead singer Beyoncé Knowles could not have known that the following decade would surpass the very high bar, and net worth, she would establish in the oughties, the decade ended in 2010.
However, she did. And she was not even the highest earning woman on Forbes Magazines’ list of the 10 Top Earning Musicians of the Decade. That honour went to Taylor Swift, a phenom who came to prominence in 2006 with her eponymous debut album which would catapult her from burgeoning country singer to global star.
The top earning musicians of the 2010s earned a combined US$6.43 billion that came from album and music sales, touring, sponsorship and business deals that saw them rival the world’s most savvy business people.
Swift earned US$825 million from sold out stadia performances and defied trends to sell millions of units for each of her six albums released in the review period in an era which streaming saw sales drop for even the most popular musicians. She had four consecutive albums sell one million units in their first week of release, a feat never done before. Even with these successes, Swift was convincingly beaten out of the top spot by Andre Young, better known as rapper Dr Dre.
While Dr Dre did not approach the dizzying heights of Swift in music, he made his millions elsewhere, earning US$950 million in the 10-year period mostly from his 20 per cent stake in the uber-popular Beats headphone brand which was bought by Apple for US$3 billion in 2014.
Beyoncé pulled in US$685 million for third place, thanks to the release of her much-acclaimed albums including Lemonade and Beyoncé and sold-out stadium tours that few other entertainers could boast.
The top five was completed by British rock group U2 (US$675 million) and rapper Diddy (US$605 million).
Rounding out the top ten were Elton John ($565 million), Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z ($560 million), Paul McCartney ($535 million), Katy Perry ($530 million) and Lady Gaga ($500 million).
Interestingly, the list does not account for deceased musicians, which would have seen the top spot go to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, whose estate pulled in an impressive $2.37 billion in the review period, Forbes notes.
The magazine says fees for agents, managers, promoters and taxes are not included in its figures.