Back in January this year, Oxfam International released its annual inequality report. The data was exactly as bad as you imagine it would be: the richest 1% bagged 82% of all wealth created in the previous year.
The highlight of the report was this fact: “In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.”
Shocking, right? Probably not if you consider how much CEOs can make.
Inspired by this report, I set out to chart the difference in incomes between top musicians and ordinary job workers. It’s no secret that the world’s top musicians bring in the big bucks. But the sheer magnitude of their wealth can take you by surprise.
We listing the world’s highest-paid musicians in 2017 according to Forbes. Top of the list? Diddy with $130M, thanks to a range of business deals.
The rest of the list is largely what you’d expect – pop-stars and aging rock stars. I counted four musicians older than 65 - McCartney, Springsteen, Elton John and Jimmy Buffet. This just goes to show that wealth as a musician is compounding in nature. If you have a loyal fan base, they’ll continue to stream your albums, buy your merchandise and attend your concerts for decades.
For three EDM artists to out-earn pop stalwarts and established rock/hip-hop acts just reinforces the sheer popularity of the genre. Tiësto continues to tour like a madman, with a lucrative Vegas residency. The other two have those residences, while are also buoyed by the fact they can sell records. Calvin has been number one in the UK for two months now.
Here’s a breakup of all the 25 artists by genre and average earnings:
Next, I made a list of five common jobs along with their median annual salary. I purposefully picked jobs that cover the entire gamut from “struggling” to “financially comfortable”.
- Truck drivers - $41,340/year
- Elementary school teachers - $59,020/year
- Registered nurses - $68,450/year
- Real estate brokers - $79,340/year
- Software developers - $100,080/year
I then mapped how long it would take the world’s best-paid musicians to earn annual salaries in these jobs.
That’s when the data became interesting.
Heading for a workout? Diddy would make a minimum wage earner’s annual salary in less time that it takes you to finish a long treadmill session (61 minutes).
Flying from New York to Los Angeles? Drake would make a teacher’s annual salary before you even de-board the plane (5 hours and 30 minutes).
Adele would make a truck driver’s annual salary in less time that she would take to fly from London to New York – and still have hours to spare (5 hours and 15 minutes). Drake could visit his alleged son in France the time a registered Nurse makes their yearly salary.
Even The Chainsmokers, at the bottom of Forbes’ list, would make a minimum wage earner’s annual salary in just 3 hours and 28 minutes. Pall and Taggart would even make a well-paid profession’s (software developers) annual income in only 23 hours and 4 minutes.
We've compiled the full data in this infographic. Click on the link if the below image is too small.