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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

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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