11/29/2012 02:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Most Surprising Revelations About the Highest-Paid Musicians of 2012

By Julie Miller, Vanity Fair


The same day that Adele soared to new recording-sales heights, Forbes named the British songstress one of the world's highest-paid musicians. The latter development comes in the financial magazine's latest ranking of People Who Make More Money Than You: Musicians in 2012 Edition. But aside from the jaw-slagging incomes, which were earned between May 2011 and May 2012, this year's list offers a few surprising shakeups to last year's tally. Among them:

  • Neither the Rolling Stones nor the Dave Matthews Band appears on the 25-spot list, meaning that their respective estimated incomes did not surpass33 million. And even worse, they will have to spend this holiday season being reminded that they could not even out-earn Michael Bublé this year.
  • Related: Michael Bublé is still a thing! A thing that reportedly earned34 million in a year from a tour and a Christmas album that makes a perfect gag gift.
  • For the first time since 2009, U2 did not top Forbes's tabulation of the World's Highest-Paid Musicians. After earning a reported130 million in 2010, and195 million in 2011, the band placed fourth on the list this year with a comparatively sad78 million. Better luck next year!
  • Only one of the top five highest-earning musicians listed is American. That musician is No. 1 earner Dr. Dre, who brought in most of his estimated110 million not from making music, but from his headphones. Handset manufacturer HTC paid the mogul100 million when it acquired a majority stake in Beats Electronics, with plans to integrate some of Beats' technology in its phones.
  • Neither Rihanna (53 million), Lady Gaga (52 million), Katy Perry (45 million), nor Adele (35 million) appears in the top 10 spots. They were all out-earned by highest-earning female musician Britney Spears, who made an estimated58 million between May 2011 and May 2012.
  • You may not have heard of the fifth highest-grossing musical act--which earned more than Bon Jovi (60 million) and Justin Bieber (55 million)--if you are an American over the age of 15 who is not in the music industry. Take That, a British boy band that is apparently doing a lot right, earned61 of its69 million haul from only eight performance dates at London's Wembley Stadium.
  • Paul McCartney's estimated-income twin in the aforementioned 12-month window was Taylor Swift.57 millions-ies!
  • Between May 2011 and May 2012 at least, Beyoncé was the slightly bigger breadwinner in the Beyoncé-Jay-Z household, taking in an estimated40 million vs. Jay-Z's38 million.
  • P. Diddy/Puff Daddy apparently just goes by "Diddy" now, as Forbes identifies the rapper/Cîroc-vodka pitchman. Update your holiday-card mailing list accordingly.

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