When you listen to your favorite musicians, you can’t help wondering what they are up to when they are not on stage. Maybe they are recording a new song or performing at a music festival. But some of them must be spending their hard-earned money somewhere, like buying a new car or taking a luxurious vacation.
Their music has captivated you but what happens backstage makes you stay and simply curious. How much do they earn from performing for you and where do they spend it? Here is a list of the world's highest-paid musicians who took home the biggest paychecks in 2020.
Paul McCartney, the former member of The Beatles, launched his solo career in 1970. Since then he has continued to compose songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
As of 2009, McCartney had sales of 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the U.S. Overall, he has produced six gold discs with over 100 million singles sold worldwide.
McCartney, whose net worth as of 2021 is $1.2 billion, owns his music publishing copyrights through his company MPL.
Bruno Mars is known for being an all-around artist, performing as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer, and dancer. You probably know him also for songs like The Lazy Song, Just the Way You Are, When I Was Your Man, 24K Magic, That’s What I Like, and Finesse.
With over 130 million record sales around the world, Mars has been recognized by several award-giving bodies, such as the Grammy Awards, the Brit Awards, and the American Music Awards.
In 2018, Mars’ tour became the fourth highest-grossing of all-time, having earned $237 million for 100 shows.
While DJ Khaled has been active as a radio DJ and recording artist in the past, he received worldwide attention in 2015 and 2016. His ninth studio album Major Key became commercially successful, landed atop the Billboard 200, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.
DJ Khaled’s eleventh album, Father of Asahd, peaked at number two in 2019, and his song Higher grabbed the Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.
He earns millions from his endorsement deals with Apple, T-Mobile, Weight Watchers, Ciroc, and others. His book The Keys landed on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Beyoncé Knowles became famous in the late 1990s as part of Destiny's Child, but her solo career expanded her horizons and opportunities to earn more. Her most critically acclaimed albums are Beyoncé and Lemonade.
Knowles, who has sold over 118 million records around the world, is the most nominated female artist and most awarded artist of all time at the Grammy Awards. During the 2000s, she was recognized as the Recording Industry Association of America's Top Certified Artist of the Decade.
Knowles runs a company called Parkwood Entertainment, which launched the clothing line Ivy Park. She also earns income from her Tidal music streaming service and endorsement deals with brands like Pepsi and L’Oreal.
Justin Bieber reached stardom and amassed a fortune at a young age. His first hit single Baby placed him at the US Billboard 200 and launched him into teen heartthrob fame.
Even though the Canadian singer faced controversies throughout his career, he remains one of the world's best-selling music artists, with over 150 million sales of records.
Bieber has worked with different brands, such as Adidas, Nicole by OPI, Walmart, Proactive, Calvin Klein, and Schmidt's Naturals. Bieber reportedly bought a new home in Beverly Hills for $28.5 million in August 2020.
American singer and actress Selena Gomez is best known for her role Alex Russo in Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place.
As a singer, she has more than 7 million album sales and 22 million singles around the world. Her hits include Come & Get It, Same Old Love, Who Says, Lose You to Love Me, The Heart Wants What It Wants, and Good for You.
Named the Billboard Woman of the Year in 2017, Gomez was once the most-followed person on Instagram. Her business ventures include a clothing line, a makeup line, a handbag line, a fragrance line, and a production company called July Moonhead Productions.
The heavy metal band Metallica has ten studio albums, a cover album, four live albums, five extended plays, 37 singles, and 39 music videos. As of 2018, they have sold over 125 million albums around the world.
Metallica is recognized as one of the greatest acts of all time by magazines like Rolling Stone and TIME, which placed them at no. 61 on its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list. In 2019, they raked in $100 million for their music and shows.
The Eagles, one of the most successful musical groups in the 1970s, is known for songs like Take It Easy, Witchy Woman, Desperado, Best of My Love, Already Gone, and One of These Nights. The band features Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Vince Gill, and Deacon Frey.
The Eagles earned $73.4 million after playing 29 shows in 2019. When touring, they gross on average $3.5 million per concert.
The legendary Celine Dion conquered the world In 1990 when she launched her debut English-language album titled Unison. Who doesn’t know the songs It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, The Power of Love, Because You Love Me, My Heart Will Go On, and I’m Your Angel.
Her Las Vegas residency titled A New Day... on the Las Vegas Strip is still the highest-grossing concert residency of all time. She has received five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Dion, named as "Queen of Adult Contemporary" by Billboard, remains the second best-selling female artist in the U.S. during the Nielsen SoundScan era. Dion co-owned the artist management company Les Productions Feeling Inc. and founded the Nickels Restaurant food chain.
American country music superstar Blake Shelton immediately reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with his first single Austin. He since went on to release commercially successful albums and singles throughout his career.
His hit songs included Pure BS, Startin’ Fires, Sure Be Cool If You Did, Bringing Back the Sunshine, and Red River Blue. Shelton also served as a judge on singing contests like Nashville Star, Clash of the Choirs, and NBC's The Voice.
As a businessman, Shelton runs a franchise of restaurants and entertainment facilities called Ole Red across the country. He also has a high fee for his appearances at events and ceremonies.
Philip Collins, who is known for being the singer and drummer of the rock band Genesis, has been famous for songs like Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now), In the Air Tonight, Another Day in Paradise, I Don't Care Anymore, One More Night, Take Me Home, and Sussudio.
Collins has 33.5 million sales of certified units in the U.S. and about 150 million sales around the world. Throughout his career, he has received two Golden Globe Awards, eight Grammy Awards, one Academy Award, six Brit Awards, and a Disney Legend Award.
In 1999, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and became a part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Collins earns around $50 million every touring year.
Backstreet Boys, the popular boy band, features AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and cousins Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson. While their music career as a band has been on and off, they still reunite and release songs together.
Backstreet Boys celebrated their 20th anniversary with the launch of their first independent album, In a World Like This in 2013. After 19 years, they landed again at number one with the release of their album DNA in 2019.
With over 100 million sales of records worldwide, the Backstreet Boys received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013 and had a residency show called Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life in Las Vegas from March 2017 to April 2019.
American country music singer and songwriter Luke Bryan signed with Capitol Nashville in 2007. He released commercially successful albums including Spring Break...Checkin' Out, Kill the Lights, Farm Tour... Here's to the Farmer, What Makes You Country, and Born Here Live Here Die Here.
The Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association named Bryan Entertainer of the Year in 2013, and his album Crash My Party was awarded the Album of the Decade award in 2019. Fans of his around the world have bought 15 million albums and 60 million singles.
Bryan owns a bar in Nashville called Luke's 32 Bridge Food + Drink. As a host on The American Idol, he reportedly earns $1 million per show and $12 million per year.
Rihanna’s hit song Umbrella propelled her career and earned her a Grammy Award for the first time. Her other chart-topping songs include Rude Boy, Only Girl (In the World), What's My Name?, S&M, We Found Love, Diamonds, and Stay.
Rihanna is considered one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, with more than 250 million records sold around the world. Under her belt are nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, six Guinness World Records, and 12 Billboard Music Awards.
TIME Magazine included her in its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in both 2012 and 2018. Together with LMVH, Rihanna runs the makeup company Fenty Beauty, which earned $100 million in sales in its initial weeks.
Pink, originally one of the members of Choice, saw her first album Can't Take Me Home achieve double-platinum in the U.S. and occupy two Billboard Hot 100 top-10 songs. International number-one songs include Get the Party Started and Don't Let Me Get Me, and the collaborative single Lady Marmalade from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
As of 2020, Pink’s albums have had more than 90 million sales worldwide. Throughout her career, she has received three Grammy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, and seven MTV Video Music Awards, including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and two Brit Awards.
Pink was included in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music, and Billboard named her the Woman of the Year in 2013. She has endorsed brands like CoverGirl, T-mobile, VW, and more.
Jennifer Lopez, or J.Lo, became a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color before landing on her first leading role in the 1997 Selena biopic. She became remarkable in films like Anaconda and Out of Sight.
Her debut studio album On the 6 and her romantic film The Wedding Planner in 2001 made her the first woman to achieve a number-one album and film in the same week. Her hit songs include If You Had My Love, I'm Real, Ain't It Funny, All I Have, and On the Floor.
She was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, received the Billboard Icon Award, and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award among other honors. She also has beauty and clothing lines, a production company, fragrances, and a charitable foundation.
Canadian rapper and entrepreneur Drake was first recognized on the teen drama television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. His first-ever album Thank Me Later debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200.
Drake’s album Views sold 1 million copies in the first week of release in 2016, and he earns about $1 million per concert. He founded his own record label called OVO Sound and his own brand of whiskey called Virginia Black in 2016.
Drake’s brand partnerships involve companies like Apple, Nike, Sprite, and Burger King. He bought a Boeing 767 private jet in 2019 and repainted it to read “Air Drake.”
Korean boy band BTS, composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, gained worldwide attention for writing songs about personal and social struggles, youth, and individualism. Wings, their second album, was the first one to sell 1 million copies in South Korea.
BTS landed on the top of the Billboard Global 200 and US Billboard Hot 100 with their hit single Dynamite and the remix of Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat). With their album Map of the Soul: 7, they became the best-selling artists and have the best-selling album in South Korean history.
TIME Magazine featured them for an international cover as "Next Generation Leaders” and listed them in the magazine's 25 Most Influential People on the Internet. Meanwhile, Forbes Korea labeled BTS the Most Influential Celebrities of Korea in 2018 and 2020, and as of 2019, BTS is reportedly worth over $4.65 billion to South Korea's economy annually.
Billie Eilish became popular in 2015 when she released her song Ocean Eyes on SoundCloud, written and produced by her brother Finneas O'Connell. Her debut album Don't Smile at Me reached the top 15 in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
It was her second album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? that placed her atop the US Billboard 200, number one in the UK, and as one of the best-selling artists of 2019. Her hit singles include No Time to Die, written for the James Bond film of the same name, Everything I Wanted, My Future, and Therefore I Am.
Eilish has won seven Grammy Awards, two Guinness World Records, two American Music Awards, one Brit Award, and three MTV Video Music Awards. In 2019, TIME included her in their inaugural Time 100 Next list.
American rapper, businessman, and record producer Jay-Z is often named as one of the greatest rappers of all time. He started his career with the label he founded, Roc-A-Fella Records, in 1995, and launched his debut studio album titled Reasonable Doubt in 1996.
His critically-acclaimed albums include The Blueprint, The Black Album, American Gangster, 4:44, and the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne and Everything Is Love. Jay-Z has sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles sold worldwide.
As a businessman, Jay-Z built the clothing retailer Rocawear in 1999 and the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club in 2003. In 2015, he purchased the tech firm Aspiro and gained control of the media streaming service Tidal.
Canadian singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes attracted fans in 2013 when he posted song covers on the video-sharing platform Vine. His debut studio album Handwritten reached the US Billboard 200, while his single Stitches took the top spot in the UK and the top 10 in the US and Canada.
His singles Treat You Better and There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back off his second album climbed at the top 10 in several countries. Meanwhile, his 2019 singles If I Can't Have You and Señorita peaked atop the US Billboard Hot 100.
Mendes has won 10 MTV Europe Music Awards, 13 SOCAN awards, eight Juno Awards, two American Music Awards, eight iHeartRadio MMVAs, and three Grammy Award nominations.
The person behind the mask of Marshmello is Christopher Comstock, an American electronic music producer and DJ. His hits Silence, Wolves, Friends, Happier, and Alone achieved certified multi-platinum internationally and landed on the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Joytime, released in January 2016, was his first album and featured the lead single Keep It Mello. His other bestselling single was a collaboration with American singer Selena Gomez called Wolves.
But it was Happier that gave Marshmello his highest-charting song on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the United Kingdom. He became one of the world's highest-paid DJs in 2017 after raking in $21 million in the twelve months prior to June 2017.
The Rolling Stones
The English rock band, The Rolling Stones, was formed in London in 1962 and pioneered the popular pop-rock of the 1960s. The band earned $59 million in 2020.
The Rolling Stones started their career in 1962 by playing covers. Their record sales of 240 million over the years make them one of the best-selling musical acts of all time. The Rolling Stones received three Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1989, they were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. The Rolling Stone's most famous songs include Gimme Shelter, Paint It Black, I Can Get No Satisfaction, Wild Horses, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and Angie.
American rapper, singer, and songwriter Post Malone earned $60 million in 2020. He was recognized in 2015 when he released his debut single White Iverson.
His nominations and awards include six Grammy Award nominations, a Billboard Music Award, and three American Music Awards. In 2020, he topped both the Billboard Rap Airplay and Adult Contemporary charts, becoming the first-ever solo artist to achieve that.
Post Malone’s masterpieces include Sunflower, Better Now, Wow, Congratulations, Rockstar, I Fall Apart, and Psycho. Hollywood's Bleeding, his third album, was released in late 2019 and nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Pop superstar and 11-time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift earned $63.5 million in 2020, placing her in the seventh position of highest-earning musicians. She has partnerships with different companies, including AT&T, CoverGirl, Diet Coke, Sony Electronics, Keds, Verizon Wireless, Qantas, AirAsia, and Target.
Born in West Reading, Pennsylvania, Swift relocated to Nashville, Tennessee in 2014 to start a career in country music. With her third single, Our Song, she became the youngest person to have written and sung a number-one song on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Her best songs include All Too Well, Last Great American Dynasty, Blank Space, Out of the Woods, Style, and Lover. In 2018, Swift signed with Universal Music Group in a deal that is reportedly worth $200 million.
Ed Shereen is an English singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. The 29-year-old musician earned $64 million in 2020, which puts him as the sixth-best musician earner for 2020.
Sheeran gained attention through YouTube in 2004. His debut album was released in September 2011. He called it ‘+’ - pronounced “plus.” This album topped the UK Albums Chart. He also won the Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist.
Sheeran, who has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, has 84.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. He was named the artist of the decade in December 2019 by the Official Charts Company. His biggest hits include Lego House, One, Thinking Out Loud, Eraser, Castle on the Hill, and Dive.
With their $68 million income, the Chainsmokers is in fifth place for 2020. This American electronic DJ and production duo consists of Alexander Pall and Andrew Taggart.
They started as remixers of songs from other artists. Their breakthrough came with their song #Selfie in 2014. It became a top twenty single in many countries.
The American pop-rock band Jonas Brothers reached the fourth best-earning position on the Forbes-list in 2020. The three brothers Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas earned $68.5 million.
The Jonas Brothers were raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and later moved to Little Falls in New Jersey. Each of them also has their respective business ventures, brand partnerships, and creative projects as individuals.
In 2013 the group sold over 17 million albums. They broke up for a few years, and six years after the split, they reunited. The song Sucker was released in 2019 to become their first number-one single on the chart.
For 2020 Ariana Grande was the third on the list of best earnings. The American singer and actress earned $72 million.
Grande, born in 1993 in Florida, began her singing career in the Broadway musical 13 at the age of 15. After launching her singing career, she became the first solo artist to simultaneously hold the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100.
When Grande got the chance to perform for Coachella 2019, she reportedly received $8 million for two days of headlining the event. Meanwhile, her Dangerous Woman tour around the world took home $71 million.
Elton John earned the second-highest income in 2020. This English singer, pianist, composer, and songwriter earned a whopping $81 million.
Sir Elton Hercules John CH CBE, born in 1947 and raised in London, started playing piano at a very young age. In 1962, he formed an R&B band called Bluesology and played with them until 1967. Since 1967, he has been working with his musical partner Taupin and producing music for many artists.
Elton’s first album, Empty Sky, was released in 1969. He has sold more than 300 million records throughout his career. His biggest hits include Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Rocketman, Tiny Dancer, Can You Feel the Love Tonight? and Candle in the Wind.
Kanye West was not only the highest-paid musician in 2020, he was also the second-highest earning celebrity overall. His income was $170 million, and the majority of his wealth came from his fashion and footwear brand, Yeezy.
Yeezy, valued at almost $3 billion in 2019, entered a multi-year partnership with Gap in 2020. According to Forbes, the rapper owns $21 million in real estate, a $3.8 million car collection, and $297,050 worth of livestock.
West is known for giving luxurious gifts to his wife, Kim Kardashian, like Hermes Birkin bags (worth between $9,000 and $50,000) and a neon Mercedes truck that costs about $240,000. The musician is also a driver of several luxury cars, and reportedly owns $3,845,162 worth of vehicles.
What your favorite musicians are earning may surprise you, but behind those figures are their years of hard work, talent, and efforts to entertain their fans.
For many of the artists on our list, they are currently releasing music and earning money from their tours and album sales. Many of them are raking in the cash from endorsement deals, while some are seeing their music being rediscovered in the modern decade.