The trope of the struggling musician exists for a reason; it's undoubtedly hard to make a living in music.

But once you hit the big time and can easily sell out arenas, the money starts rolling in. The 2010s were a transformative time for music and a lucrative time for these 10 musicians. Most of these statistics are from Forbes, who "measures the industry's top-earning musicians annually for the Celebrity 100 by looking at touring data from Pollstar, music consumption numbers from Nielsen and interviews with managers, agents and many of the stars themselves."

10. Lady Gaga ($500 Million)

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Lady Gaga has had a lucrative decade. She released five albums: Born This Way, Artpop, Cheek to Cheek, Joanne and the A Star Is Born album. She also had a performance residency in Las Vegas that contributed to her hefty net-worth of $500 Million.

9. Katy Perry ($530 Million)

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Katy Perry can mostly attribute her wealth to three successful world tours: California Dreams, Prismatic, and Witness, as well as her stint as a reality TV judge.

8. Paul McCartney ($535 Million)

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Paul McCartney has amassed a huge fortune in his decades-long career, and the 2010s continued that trend, earning The Beatles superstar a cool $535 million thanks to his first number one album since 1982 and an ambitious touring schedule.

7. Jay-Z ($560 Million)

Jay-Z is the first musician in history to become a billionaire thanks to the various companies he's built. But in the 2010s he earned $560 Million more thanks to his tour with Beyoncé and other musical pursuits.

6. Elton John ($565 million)

Thanks to massive world tours and a Las Vegas residency, the "Bennie and the Jets" singer has raked in over $500 million since 2010.

5. Diddy ($605 million)

The singer formally known as Puff Daddy has Ciroc vodka to thank for his lucrative decade.

4. U2 ($675 million)

U2's 360 Tour earned nearly $800 million, making it the highest-earning tour of all time.

3. Beyoncé ($685 million)

Beyoncé had smash hit after smash hit this past decade, a platinum album, and multiple hugely successful tours and festival performances.

2. Taylor Swift ($825 million)

Taylor Swift has the enduring popularity of her music and her rigorous stadium-packing tour schedule to thank for the millions she's made since 2010.

1. Dr. Dre ($950 million)

Despite barely releasing music this decade, Dr. Dre tops our list thanks to Apple's $3 billion buyout of Beats by Dre, a company Dr. Dre had a 20% stake in.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

New Releases

Pom Pom Squad Celebrate Love's Gut Punches on "Red With Love"

The Brooklyn rockers seem poised to blow up in the indie world.

Pom Pom Squad has everything you could want from a Brooklyn-based indie-punk outlet—wailing guitars, searingly confessional yet simultaneously original lyrics, and music videos loaded with glitter and neon lights.

Their latest offering, "Red With Love," is a wide-eyed celebration of love, in all its overwhelming bittersweetness. The video plays with classic symbols of femininity—cheerleaders, prom queen crowns, wedding dresses—refracting them through glitchy filters and smashing them against streamer-covered diner counters. It perfectly encapsulates the sugary head-rush of desperation and glee that defines the sweet chaos of romance.

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The band might be most comfortable writing about the sharpest, bloodiest edges of romantic and emotional angst, but "Red With Love" is a marked change from that niche. It's an exploration of what it might mean to accept love for yourself and someone else. The product is tender and fierce and also extremely danceable.

"'Red' is my first proper love song and a pretty unguarded look into my heart, my relationship anxiety, and my acceptance of my own queerness," lead singer Mia Berrin told Paste.

"Red With Love" comes on the heels of the band's slow-burning cover of FKA twigs' "Cellophane," which offers a different kind of ecstasy. On that track, Berrin's voice breaks over fiery guitar and whirring synths, which sound like they're on the edge of shattering–until they do, collapsing into the song's aching final chorus.

The best indie rock bands have something far more than just catchy songs and emotional messages. Maybe it's a sense of forward motion combined with a deep internal ache, or a synergy that just clicks. Pom Pom Squad has whatever that magical X factor is, and it's no wonder that they've experienced so much success in the Brooklyn scene. Both "Red With Love" and "Cellophane" are examples of indie rock at its most golden, raw, and blindingly alive. It's likely that Pom Pom Squad won't stay a local gem for long.