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Who are the Highest Earning Musicians in the UK & US and How Do They Impact the Economy?

A few days ago I wrote a post over on Canpages about how Justin Bieber, Drake, and Chris Brown represent a whopping 7% of Canada’s whole music economy, which as a figure is a staggering $107,000,000 a year. I thought it would also be quite interesting to look at who has the biggest impact on the music economy here in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

The UK is home to three of the current highest earning artists in the world: U2, Elton John, and Paul McCartney, who collectively earn a massive $362,000,000 a year (it slightly dwarfs Justin Bieber’s $53,000,000!)



Per Year

Per Month

Per Week

Per Day

Per Hour







Elton John






Paul McCartney







Yes, you read that correctly, Sir Elton John earns $24,000 an hour! Compare that with the United State’s three highest earning artists…


Per Year

Per Month

Per Week

Per Day

Per Hour

Bon Jovi






Lady Gaga






Black Eyed Peas






The economic impact of these high earning artists is also far beyond their annual salaries as they will directly provide jobs and business to a large number of music industry professionals.

The UK’s music economy in 2009 was worth about £4,000,000,000, just over 20 times U2’s annual earnings. 

However, as Lee from Ditto quite rightly pointed out, these artists don’t necessarily have a large impact on the music economies of the countries they originate from. In the case of Canada, most of the high earning Canadian artist’s such as Justin Bieber had American or British record labels and managers, therefore directing money away from their home economies.

“If Justin Bieber, Drake, and Chris Brown’s labels and managers were also Canadian i think we could see that figure (Canada’s music industry revenue) going up 10 times as much. Canada should be putting money back into the music industry to make sure that these have artists can grow from Canadian labels and managers, that is where the higher revenues will be generated.”

- Lee Parsons, CEO of Ditto Music

Where do the 25 highest earning musicians come from and what are their cumulative earnings per country (in millions)?


As you can see, the United States have the largest chunk of the pie, with over half over the world’s highest earning musicians being American. In total, the American artist’s in the top 25 richest musicians earn $857million a year. The UK was the second largest chunk, earning a combined $397million per year, with Canada coming in third place.


 This article was written by Marcus Taylor, co-author of Get Noticed, and founder of The Musician’s Guide, a website for musicians with information on everything from getting music contracts to picking the right earplugs.

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