Artists like the likes of Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj are being paid millions of dollars a year to record music on their own albums and tour, while others are making a fraction of that.
For the most part, it’s been a long time coming.
Artists like The Weekend’s Ed Shearans’ earnings from the last album he made, A.M. in 2015 are still in the tens of millions of pounds ($1.4 million), but his recent release, We Got It From Here…
Thank You 4 Your Service, was recorded in a basement studio and sold on iTunes.
“This was a long process, it was painstaking,” he said in a video posted on Instagram.
“But it’s a step in the right direction.
Now I’m finally releasing the record.”
In a statement to Billboard, Warner Bros. said, “We are thrilled that Ed Shears new album has been released, and the album is an exceptional testament to his creative talent and the strength of his fans.”
But the biggest paychecks are being distributed at the other end of the music industry, where labels are getting huge paychecks from artists who aren’t getting any recognition.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums.
This week’s top 10 was led by Ed Sheares newest record, A Million Ways To Die in the West, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, a feat he surpassed in the previous week.
In the same week, Radiohead’s OK Computer topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a third week, after debuting at No and No. 4 respectively.
The song has since topped the Hot 100 a total of seven times and peaked at No, 8, in November, making it the most chart-topping single of all time.
As the charts have shifted over the years, so too have the deals.
In 2014, Ed’s A Million Songs topped the charts with an $8 million advance, earning him $4.6 million in gross profits.
In 2015, Radio’s The Day of the Jackal was No. 2 on the Hot 200 with $6.9 million, bringing the artist $6 million.
In 2016, Ed released his first studio album, A Thousand Suns, which went on to earn him $6,000 per track, the highest paid record in history, and a rare break from his previous work, which he had to release in the midst of a major legal battle.
That same year, he also released his debut album, Blackbird, which earned him $1 million, making him the highest-paid artist in history at the time.
The next year, when he began releasing solo records, Ed also recorded a collaboration with Jay Z called “All The Small Things,” which earned Ed $750,000, according to Billboard.
In 2017, Ed continued his success with the release of the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated “I Am Still Here,” which went to No. 3 on the album chart, but earned him just $1.2 million, a significant drop from the $10 million that his first album had earned.
A decade after A Million Suns, he was back on the charts again with “Blackbird” in 2019.
It went to a second No.1 in the United States, but only earned Ed an additional $600,000.
His first solo record in two years, “The Blackest Day,” also went to no. 1, but it wasn’t a big seller, earning just $100,000 in gross proceeds.
Ed is still the highest earning artist on the list, and still earning the highest per song earnings.
He’s still one of the most prolific artists of all-time.
But in 2018, he took his first solo tour in 25 years, with shows in cities including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
The tour has now sold over 2.3 million tickets, and Ed’s career is on track to reach 3 million worldwide sales in the next 25 years.