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Most massive musicians make most of their money outside of music.

The “Self Branding” revolution is well and truly underway, with popular musicians marketing their image more so than their music in so many ways.

But which of these musical entrepreneurs are working the hardest?   Which pop-star players are raking in the cash for something other than their catchy hooks?   And How?

Take a look in the top 10 musical entrepreneurs…

10. Gene Simmons

As well as the literally thousands of licensed KISS merchandise products, Gene Simmons has tried his hand at reality tv, a (now discontinued) men’s interest magazine “Gene Simmons’ Tongue”, Simmons Records and the clothing line “Moneybag”.

9. Dr Dre

His Headphone line “Beats by Dr. Dre” as well as the upcoming “Aftermath Cognac and Vodka” prove that this producer is more than a musician – though the majority of his money still seems to come from his productions.   He’s also made several movie and TV appearances to supplement his income, as well as directing music videos.

8. Justin Timberlake

Justin’s endorsement with 3 restaurants, his “William Rast” clothing line, endorsements with sony products, a Givenchy fragrance, the Audi A1 and Callaway golf products as well as buying and redeveloping a golf course in his home town show that Justin is more than just the pretty face of boy band pop.

He’s also done work with Saturday Night Live, that McDonalds advert and his MTV reality series “The Phone”.

7. Jennifer Lopez

J.Lo is one of the biggest female entrepreneurs in the pop music world.   Producing the reality show “DanceLife” and the series TLC which followed the launch of one of her many fragrances lie among her accomplishments in the TV world.   She has her “JLO by Jennifer Lopez” clothing line, her Cuban restaurant, her production company “Nuyorican Productions” and is also a spokesperson for “Lux” shampoo in Japan.


6. Paul McCartney

One of the few musicians who can claim to be a billionaire – in 2009 he was worth $1.2 billion (£750 million).   With his company MPL Communications, he owns 25,000 copyrights which earn him a significant amount, but MPL also acts as an umbrella company for several other companies – for the majority publishing companies he’s acquired, but what he lacks in versatility, he makes up for in… uh… money.

5. Pharrel Williams

Apart from being one of the most versatile men in popular music, swapping from laid-back RnB collaborations to heavy rock tracks with his band N.E.R.D., he’s ventured into clothing with his line “A Bathing Ape”, then creating another brand; “Billionaire Boys Club” and to complete the ensemble “Ice Cream Footwear”, which he advertised in the song “Drop it like it’s Hot”.

He’s also worked on furniture, perhaps a slightly obscure venture for a millionaire pop star, but I suppose he might need a sit down after all that hard work in the studio!

4. Travis Barker

The drummer from Punk Rock band “Blink 182″ almost has more ventures than tattoos.   He founded the “Famous Stars and Straps” clothing brand which is absolutely huge with the alternative crowd.   He also has a stake in two other clothing labels, “Rogue Status” and “DTA”.

He has his own label – “LaSalle Records”, a restaurant – “Wahoo’s Fish Taco” and has developed his own shoe for DC Shoes.   Then he tops all this off with his own line of drumming gear, sponsored by Zildjian.

Then there’s the reality TV show he was on – “Meet the Barkers”.   Definitely one of the most entrepreneurial rock stars in this list!

3. Britney Spears

Britney hasn’t done to bad for herself – apart from her massive world tours, her record-breaking fragrances have added hundreds of millions of dollars to her net worth.   She is also one of many artists to collaborate with Pepsi in advertisements, earning her hundreds of millions again.

Then there was her movie venture “Crossroads”, her doll and her video game, as well as the reality series “Britney and Kevin: Chaotic”.   Not bad for a little girl from Louisiana!

2. 50 Cent

Ol’ Curtis Jackson sure knows how to diversify – from his Video Games “50 Cent: Bulletproof” and “50 Cent: Blood on the Sand” to his “G-Unit Sneakers” line with Reebok, he’s been exploring other earning avenues than just CDs and downloads!

Then there was the famous deal with Glaceau, where he worked with them to create the “Vitamin Water” drink, then Coca-cola bought Glaceau for $4.1 billion, netting Fiddy a healthy sum.

More recently he’s made a body spray called “Pure 50 RGX” with Right Guard, as well as releasing his own condom line – “Magic Stick Condoms”.   He always was a subtle one.

Oh, and we can’t forget his movie career, starring in his semi-autobiographical film “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”, or his book imprint “G-Unit Books”, for the gangsta that also enjoys literature, or his reality TV show “50 Cent: The Money and the Power”…

1. P Diddy

Sean Combs has had an amazing career as an entrepreneur.   After founding “Bad Boy Records” and signing The Notorious B.I.G. to the top, he then began his music career – meaning he was an entrepreneur first, then a pop star.   After a while he starred in the film “Made” and later in “Monster’s Ball”.

His own reality TV show “Making the Band”, his clothing line “Sean John”, his men’s perfume, his starring in a Macy’s commercial, his restaurant chain – “Justin’s” (named after his son), his affiliation with the “Ciroc” brand of Vodka and purchasing the “Enyce” clothing line all add to his immense financial empire.

Diddy is not afraid to take risks – that’s what makes him such an interesting and versatile entrepreneur.   Even though him and his companies have on occasion hit some serious criticism from the media, he’s always pulled through and turned it into something positive – when it came out that his clothing brand wasn’t treating workers well, he installed air conditioning, water purification and let them create a union – something completely unprecedented in Honduras, where the factories were based.   Great publicity and a great example of turning a crisis into an opportunity.   That’s why he’s at the number one spot.

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5 Responses to “Top 10 Musical Entrepreneurs”

  1. It’s crazy how some musicians can transition to other ventures like that.

    It doesn’t seem to work as well with movie stars which is really weird because you’d figure someone that made a $500 million blockbuster could at least have something other than a movie career.

  2. 50 Cent also also collaborated with renowned author Robert Greene, to create “The 50th Law”, which is an incredible piece of literature. Im am quite surprised not to see Jay-Z in this column though!!

  3. That’s really astute, I never noticed that… though perhaps their intensive movie-making schedules don’t allow for it.

  4. Good observation… What I have noticed is urban music is washing up! Noone is really buying the CD’s forcing these Producers and Artists to do other thnigs. I say this because Dr Dre I mean he never jumps ship. While people are making movies and opening clothing lines… creating their own games… This man still stuck with music as his main source of income because it was all he needed. Now he is finally seeing the harsh reality and branching out..

  5. I think you forgot a big one: Jay Z :) . One of the greatest. And Madonna, a business woman at core.

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