Michael Jackson’s estate recently signed a record deal with Sony BMG worth £133 million. It will reportedly cover ten Jackson albums over the next seven years, and is the biggest record deal in history. But it’s by no means the only colossal payout in recent music history…
The bulk of 50 Cent’s wealth comes not from his music but his business investments. In 2004 he took an equity stake in drinks company Glaceau (makers of his branded Formula 50 vitamin water). Three years later Coca-Cola bought the company for $4.1 billion – netting the rapper a cool $100 million, a month before his 31st birthday.
Thanks to the profitability of touring, the biggest stars just get richer every year. Two decades into her career, Kylie Minogue banked £4.1 million in 2009, £2.8 million of which came from her world tour – that’s the equivalent of earning £11,000 per day. The previous year she was reportedly paid £2 million to play a 60-minute set at the opening of the Palm hotel resort, Dubai.
Simon Cowell has come a long way since the 80s, when his label folded and he was forced to move back in with his parents. The music/TV mogul is currently negotiating a pay rise for appearing on American Idol, to around £30 million a series. He’s also tipped to rake in another £35-40 million by launching The X Factor in America.
The Rolling Stones’ 2005-7 A Bigger Bang tour is the highest-grossing of all time, netting a final box-office take of $558,255,524. Not every UK show was a sell-out, but the band wisely capitalised on their wealthy, older fans by introducing different ticket prices, ranging from £40 all the way up to £340.
Jay-Z’s another rapper who makes more money from brand extensions than he does from music. In 2007, he personally banked $82 million when when he sold his urban apparel line Rocawear to Iconix Brand Group in a deal topping $204 million.
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar pocketed $80 million in May 2007 when Gruppo Campari, maker of Campari and Skyy vodka, bought the rocker’s Cabo Wabo tequila brand.
In 1994, Roxy Music keyboard player-turned in-demand producer Brian Eno was paid £35,000 to write a start-up noise for the Windows 95 operating system – what became known as The Microsoft Sound. It doesn’t sound like a huge sum, until you consider that the sound is only six seconds long. So that’s an hourly rate of £350,000 – nice work if you can get it.
Paul McCartney is not short of a bob or two. On top of grossing as much as $2 million a night on tour, he earns around $5 million a year from his publishing company, MPL Communications, whose catalogue includes his solo work, as well as Buddy Holly’s songs.
Prince is a canny businessman – his was 2009’s second-highest-grossing tour, generating $90.3 million in ticket sales. But thanks to lower production costs, his net take was larger than top grosser Madonna’s. Prince took a reported eighty-five percent of the profits from the concerts, which earned an average $910,000 a night.
In 2002, Robbie Williams signed a then-record breaking £80 million contract with EMI. The label were probably a bit miffed, then, when the star’s subsequent album, ‘Intensive Care’, under-performed. And then came ‘Rudebox’, which sold so poorly EMI ultimately shipped a million unsold copies to China to be recycled as road surfacing material.
The global recession didn’t affect Madonna – she earned £169 million from her 2008-9 Sticky & Sweet world tour, during which she performed to over 3.5 million fans in 32 countries. She put some of the money into property. In 2009 she paid $40 million for a Georgian-style townhouse in New York’s Upper East Side.
AC/DC have made their one song go a long way – in 2009 their stadium tour swelled the band’s coffers to the tune of $40 million. Not so much Whole Lotta Rosie as whole lotta moolah.
50 Cent – yep, him again. The jammy rapper just can’t stop raking it in. Reebok sold more than 1 million pairs of G Unit sneakers in 2009, netting 50 Cent at least $6 million in royalties.
Bruce Springsteen makes pots of money even when he can’t be arsed to tour. In 2003 he set the record the biggest single-city, single-artist gross in history, taking $79 million at the box office over a 10-night run at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
U2 could probably eliminate Third World debt themselves if they wanted to. The band raked in more than $108 million in 2009, mostly through their gigantic 360 Tour, which despite being the most expensive stadium production ever staged, is also projected to be the highest-grossing, eclipsing even the Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour.
Poor EMI. Shortly before paying way over the odds for Robbie Williams, in April 2001 they signed Mariah Carey for $80 million – only to pay her a further $28 million in January 2002 to get rid of her, after her Glitter album bombed. To add insult to injury, Carey is now hugely bankable once more, having signed with EMI’s rivals, Universal.
What did you do on New Year’s Eve, 2009? Beyonce spent it on the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s, getting paid $2 million to play a one-hour set for super-rich revellers. Whose party was it? Erm, Hannibal Gaddafi (son of the Libyan dictator), a decidedly shady character described by The Guardian as “an absolute scumbag”.
Justin Timberlake is not just a sell-out, he’s an ungrateful sell-out. He got paid £1 million to sing the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle for McDonald’s – then had the temerity to whinge about it, telling QG. “I regret the McDonald’s deal. [Their] market share went up 25 per cent when I walked into those offices and changed their image…” Such modesty.