By Haddon Libby
Forbes recently published its annual list of the top earning entertainers. For many on the list, earnings were from the sale of decades of music or television rights. For older musicians, the sale of music catalogs helps to put estates in order while they are alive.
A large part of the Coachella Valley has probably never heard of the entertainment who is tenth on the list. Born in 1994, Bad Bunny aka Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio is a Puerto Rican rapper who came to prominence on Cardi B’s hit “I Like It”. Most of his $88 million in earnings came from tours and endorsements.
At 33 years of age, Taylor Swift is the queen of pop music. Without a major tour, Swift earned $92 million from streaming services, the actual sale of her music and endorsements. Expectations are that Swift will see a nine-figure payday in 2023 as she tours the United States. Demand for tickets was so great that it crashed Ticketmaster’s website and exposed the ugly side of progressive ticket pricing.
James Cameron comes in eighth thanks to Avatar: The Way of Water. The film earned Cameron at least $95 million and potentially more should the film reach revenue targets.
Coming in seventh are the legendary rockers The Rolling Stones. Celebrating their 60th anniversary, the band earned more than $8.5 million a show during their 15 city European tour.
Brad Pitt had a nine-figure payday at $100 million thanks to the sale of 60% of his production company to French media company Mediawan for $113 million. Roughly one-third of his income came from acting work in films like Bullet Train and Babylon.
In fifth are James L. Brooks and Matt Groening, the team behind The Simpsons. With over 30 years of shows streaming on Disney+, the duo earned $105 million from residuals.
The duo behind South Park and the Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, earned $160 million due in large part to their long-running Comedy Central show, South Park. Two years ago, Paramount+ signed them to a $935 million, six-year deal. In 2011, Parker and Stone made $210 million.
Tyler Perry has made quite a career from his Madea film franchise. With profits, Perry invested in himself and built a 330-acre film studio in Atlanta from which he churns out television shows and films. In 2022, Perry earned $175 million, up $10 million from the prior year.
Coming in second place at $210 million is Sting thanks to the sale of his music catalog to Universal Music Group for $300 million. The sale of music rights includes both his solo work and that with The Police. In recent years, large media groups and investment funds have acquired the music catalogues of many recording artists. Just last year, Bruce Springsteen sold his catalogue to Sony Music for $435 million while Paul Simon sold his for $200 million.
Topping this year’s list is rock music group Genesis with $230 million. Concord Music Group bought their catalog for $300 million. A small farewell tour and royalties rounded out their income.
Last year’s tope earner was The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson at $580 million due to the sale of his visual effects company to Unity Software for $1.6 million.
Falling out of the top ten was Jay-Z after earning $340 million due to his Armand de Brignac Champagne Brand while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson earned $270 million due in large part to his Teremana tequila brand. Kanye West was earning $235 million from his Yeezy shoe line with Adidas until Ye professed a fondness for white supremicists and Hitler which caused Adidas to cancel the deal.
Haddon Libby is the Founder and Chief Information Officer of Winslow Drake Investment Management. For more information, please visit www.WinslowDrake.com.