Friday, January 14, 2022

Jay-Z and Kanye West Among 2021's Highest Paid Musicians

Photo credit: Tyler Cummings 
When former constant collaborators Jay-Z and Kanye West reunited for the first time in five years in 2021 for Ye’s album “Donda,” it would have been hard to imagine the dynamic duo having their names attached to a more impressive feat at the end of the year.

Jay-Z’s verse on “Jail” ended years of semi-public and subtle feuding between the mentor and his former protégée and generated excitement that they might resume their creative relationship, which contributed to many of the artists' biggest hits as well as the quintuple platinum album “Watch the Throne.” 

The 2011 joint project topped the Billboard charts in 12 countries and was the catalyst behind the highest-grossing hip-hop concert tour in history.

The reunion between the Businessman and the Bipolar Billionaire has been overshadowed, however, by the latest report from Rolling Stone. The seminal music publication counted Jay-Z and West among 2021’s top-earning musicians.

In a list compiled by Zach O’Malley Greenburg, the two were the only Black faces on the very white and very male list. Jay-Z took the No. 2 spot with $470 million in earnings and West was fourth with $250 million.

Their high rankings were made more impressive by the fact that the rappers, along with West’s one-time nemesis Taylor Swift (No. 10 with $80 million), were the only ones to make the cut without selling the rights to their musical catalogs.

For, example, Bruce Springsteen, who topped the list, earned $590 million. He sold his publishing copyrights and master recordings to Sony in December for $550 million in a record-setting deal for a solo musician’s catalog.

“These are almost like pieces of art — there’s a finite number of real, super-high-quality hit songs from the past — and there’s this sort of all-out grab to own those rights,” Josh Gruss, CEO of Round Hill Music, which has dropped $1.3 billion on music copyrights in the last 10 years, told Rolling Stone. “It’s a very steady stream of revenue that’s there, and that makes it very attractive for investment.”

Jay-Z and West both had significant earnings outside of music.

The sale of half of his Armand de Brignac champagne to LVMH for $300 million and a portion of Tidal to Square contributed heavily to Jay-Z’s ranking, while West, who also profited from the release of “Donda,” earned most of his green from his Yeezy footwear brand as well as a collaboration with The Gap.

The remainder of the Top 10, according to Rolling Stone, included Blake Shelton (No. 9, $83 million), Mötley Crüe (No. 8 $95 million), Lindsey Buckingham (No. 7, $100 million), Red Hot Chili Peppers (No. 6 $140 million), Ryan Tedder (No. 5, $200 million) and Paul Simon (No. 3, $260 million).

Check out the full report here

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