There may have been bigger-selling artists last year - the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran and Olivia Rodrigo spring immediately to mind - but when it came to earnings, Bruce Springsteen was very much The Boss.
Rolling Stone estimates that Springsteen earned a cool $590 million last year, but it’s worth noting that the majority of this income came not from a new album or tour, but the sale of his publishing copyrights and masters to Sony, which made him a whopping $550 million.
In fact, catalogue sales were all the rage in 2021, with established artists such as Paul Simon ($260 million, #3), Ryan Tedder ($200 million, #5), Red Hot Chili Peppers ($145 million, #6), Lindsey Buckingham ($100 million #7), Mötley Crüe ($95 million, #8), and Blake Shelton ($83 million, #9) all cashing in.
Only Jay-Z ($470 million, #2) and Taylor Swift ($80 million, #10) didn’t earn the majority of their money from a catalogue sale, but new music wasn’t their biggest income driver, either.
Jay-Z made a chunk of money by selling 80% of the Tidal music streaming service, and Taylor Swift helped to ease the pain of not owning her back catalogue by scoring success with re-recordings of two of her biggest albums - Red (Taylor’s Version) and Fearless (Taylor’s Version).
You’ll also note that Swift is the only woman to make the Top 10, and Jay-Z the only artist who isn’t white, emphasising that, when it comes to equality, the music business still has plenty of work to do.