Forbes celebrity wealth ranking highlights importance of streaming economy

Forbes has published a new list, this time revealing the 100 highest-paid celebrities. The list has a heavy lean toward musicians, and while many of those performers are still securing a large share of income from other branding and business enterprises, the entire ranking reflects how much creative enterprises have changed with the advent of digital tools.

Forbes noted that while the aggregate earnings of the celebrity list stayed flat over the past year at just over $5 billion. However, the celebrity income directly related to streaming has grown from $177 million to $387 million over the past year.

For musicians, touring is still the main driver of income. Abel Tesfaye, who performs as The Weeknd and placed at No. 6, has seen 5.5 billion streams in the past two years, and that digital success translated into an estimated $75 million touring advance. He also had the very helpful boost of performing his “I Can’t Feel My Face” single as part of the launch of Apple Music.

“We live in a world where artists don’t really make the money off the music like we did in the Golden Age,” Tesfaye said. “It’s not really coming in until you hit the stage.”

Other notable musicians on the list include Diddy, who topped the chart with $140 million. Beyoncé was second with $105 million and Drake was fourth with $94 million. Coldplay was the best-ranking band, coming eighth with $88 million.

Anna Washenko