Who Was the Highest-Paid Entertainer of 2022? It's Not Who You Think. A new list of last year's biggest earners had some real surprises.

By Jonathan Small

Forbes just released its annual list of "The World's 10 Highest-Paid Entertainers in 2022" — and they're not all who you'd think.

Classic English rock band Genesis took the top spot, earning $230 million in a single year. Genesis, which released its first album in 1969, launched the careers of both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, releasing such hit songs as "Invisible Touch" and "That's All."

But those songs dropped way back in the 1980s, so how did Genesis make so much money last year? One word: Publishing.

According to Forbes, Genesis sold the rights to their music catalog to Concord Music Group in September for $300 million. The deal also included some of Phil Collins' solo work, including his hit song "In The Air Tonight."

Genesis weren't the only greying rockers to kill it in 2022.

Sting was the second highest-paid entertainer. The former Police frontman and solo star of the 80s sold his entire songwriting catalog, including his work with the Police ("Every Breath You Take") and his solo hits ("If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"), to Universal Music Group for $210 million.

Genesis and Sting were the latest benefactors of major music conglomerates and companies, like JP Morgan and BlackRock, investing in artists' music catalogs, which they believe are undervalued in the age of streaming.

Related: Elon Musk Isn't the World's Richest Person Anymore — Here's Who Stole His Title

Who else made the list?

Not all the big earners last year were in their 70s. Other highly-paid entertainers include Taylor Swift (#9), who earned $92 million from her record sales, streaming, digital downloads, and licensing.

And that was last year.

"Crashing Ticketmaster with insane demand for her Midnights tour in November suggests an even bigger 2023 for her," wrote Forbes.

Latin rapper Bad Bunny was the 10th highest-paid entertainer of 2022, earning $88 million, thanks to his two tours and endorsements from Corona, Cheetos, and Adidas.

Here is the entire list:

  1. Genesis ($230 million)
  2. Sting ($210 million)

  3. Tyler Perry ($175 million)

  4. Trey Parker and Matt Stone ($160 million)

  5. James L. Brooks and Matt Groening ($105 million)

  6. Brad Pitt ($100 million)

  7. The Rolling Stones ($98 million)

  8. James Cameron ($95 million)

  9. Taylor Swift ($92 million)

  10. Bad Bunny ($88 million)

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

Jonathan Small is editor-in-chief of Green Entrepreneur, a vertical from Entrepreneur Media focused on the intersection of sustainability and business. He is also an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcast host of the upcoming True Crime series, Dirty Money, and Write About Now podcasts. Jonathan is the founder of Strike Fire Productions, a premium podcast production company. He had held editing positions at Glamour, Stuff, Fitness, and Twist Magazines. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, and Good Housekeeping. Previously, Jonathan served as VP of Content for the GSN (the Game Show Network), where he produced original digital video series.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Discover Your New Favorite Show or Movie with This App, Now $39.99 for Life

Think of this app as your very own, personalized guide to streaming film and TV.

Growing a Business

Serial Entrepreneur Turned VC Reveals 4 Numbers You Need to Know to Scale Your Company

If you're looking to attract investment or simply seeking to scale your business, there are four key numbers you should use as your guiding light.

Business News

McDonald's Is Making a Major Change to Its Burgers in 2024

The beloved Big Mac will also be getting a big makeover.

Thought Leaders

3 New Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus

To boost focus in the face of distractions, you need a new approach to success.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.