Hollywood Salaries: Here are the People on Forbes Highest-Paid Entertainers List - The Scene

It seems that “selling out” isn’t always a bad thing.

Forbes recently released their annual list of the highest-paid entertainers, and the trajectory of the careers of these top earners teaches us a thing or two. 

With nearly half of the list earning from selling their bodies of work and TV showrunners still getting payouts from syndicating popular series that have ended years ago, it tells us that hard work does indeed pay off. 

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Topping the top five spots are director Peter Jackson, musician Bruce Springsteen, rapper Jay-Z, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and rapper-producer Kanye West.

According to Forbes, almost half of the top 25 earners, including Jackson and Springsteen, secured their massive earnings by selling their studio or music catalogs. 

Selling their success

Jackson, the Lord of the Rings franchise director, sold part of his visual effects firm to Unity Software for $1.6 billion. His earnings make him, Stevan Spielberg, and George Lucas the three people in history that became billionaires from making movies. 

Last December, Springsteen earned $435 million and “unloaded” his entire discography to his label Sony Music Group. The sale was worth $500 million and included five decades of his songs from twenty studio albums.

On the number 9th spot is songwriter Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of One Republic, and he also sold his more than 500 songs to investment firm KKR. He’s also responsible for some of the hits of Beyonce, Adele, and Ed Sheeran. 

Enterprising entertainers

The following two top-earning musicians are Jay-Z and West. The former is the first billionaire from the hip-hop industry, an entrepreneur. In 2021, he sold his music streaming platform, Tidal. In addition, he sold half of his champagne brand Armand de Brignac to LVMH. His total earnings of $340 million include cashouts from these deals.

West, who’s making waves right now trying to get his ex-wife Kim Kardashian back through Instagram posts, earns $235 million. A chunk of the sum comes from his contract as a designer for Adidas’ Yeezy line.

The fourth on the list is The Rock. He’s one of the few actors to make it on this year’s list, but only some of his $270 million come from his recent movies Red Notice and Jungle Cruise. The publication says most of his fortune is from Teremana, his tequila brand. 

Johnson’s tequila retails for $29.99 and $32.99 for the Blanco and Reposado variants, respectively. 

Show runners make millions

Lesser-known entertainers also made the Forbes list for creating some of the most well-loved American TV shows. Warner Brothers’ Chuck Lorre earns his $100 million partly from the licensing of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

Meanwhile, the creators of Friends, Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane, enjoy $82 million for putting together the show’s reunion on HBO Max. The deal with the streaming service is worth $425 million.

Other celebrities on the 2022 list include Reese Witherspoon ($115 million), Sean “Diddy” Combs ($90 million), Blake Shelton ($55 million), and Taylor Swift ($52 million).

Banner photo from @allthingsjayz on Instagram.

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