Business Success: Facing the Music

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On March 23, 2015

Face-the-musicNot too long ago Forbes magazine released one of their famous lists: The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians Of 2014. It’s always kind of fun to look at these lists from Forbes because they are a mixture of what you’d expect along with a sprinkling of surprises. Their list of musicians is no different.

A lot of the usual cast of characters made the highest paid list—representing a range of popular musicians from classic rock to hip-hop to country and contemporary pop. Paul McCartney is still rocking it big time at #8, earning $71 million this year. Taylor Swift isn’t far behind, coming in at #11 with earnings of $64 million. The Rolling Stones make their annual appearance (coming in at #19 having earned $47 million).

It was a good year for cute boys, too. British boy band One Direction earned $75 million to come in at #7 and tabloid superstar Justin Bieber snatched the #6 spot by earning $80 million. Bruce Springsteen may not be The Boss of the money earners, but his $81 million earnings put him at #5 on the list. The Eagles may be getting older, but at #3 their $100 million in earnings in 2014 was more than Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Miley Cyrus—combined (all of whom made the list).

The #1 earner, however was a bit of a surprise—and at a whopping $620 million in earnings, nobody else was even close. That’s what hip-hop producer Dr. Dre took home last year.

What makes Dr. Dre’s coup so interesting (particularly from a business perspective) is that he didn’t make this fortune singing or playing an instrument or even producing recordings. He earned his payout when Apple bought his Beats company for $3billion.

You could make the argument that all of the musicians on the list are very good at what they do. But Dr. Dre expanded his reach. He leveraged his love, knowledge, and experience in the music industry to a level of success he never would have achieved as “merely” a performer, songwriter, or producer. He didn’t let his own (already significant) success keep him from being more successful.

What about your industry? You may be really good at what you do, but is there an opportunity within your spheres of influence, knowledge, and expertise that could take you to new heights? Dr. Dre knew that a lot more people listen to other forms of music than what he produced. You don’t have to love hip-hop to drop $300 (or more) for a set of headphones.

Maybe it’s time to face the music in your industry and play your own tune!