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Sunday Times Rich List shows how lucrative music industry is

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In a 1993 article written by David Harrop, it was suggested that McCartney had been making more than British Airways. 

“Paul McCartney is history’s most commercially successful musician – by far the wealthiest of the ex Beatles – and one of the world’s richest men,” he said. This fact doesn’t seem to have changed.

But surely McCartney’s success didn’t rest solely on the laurels of his musical talent? After all, the title of entrepreneur seems to go hand-in-hand with his name these days.

McCartney was involved with the renovation of the counterculture art gallery Indica Gallery, located in the basement of the Indica Bookshop co-owned by John Dubar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles. Although he may not have come up with the idea, he invested heavily in the project. He also helped Miles start an underground paper called the International Times, which caused a publishing revolution.

Of course, he also founded Apple Corps with his fellow Beatles, not to mention MPL, his own music publishing company. He also owned a 20 per cent stake in Northern Songs before selling it. What has most likely been the biggest source of his income, however, was a music publishing catalogue with access to over 25,000 copyrights, including the publishing rights to the musicals Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Annie and Grease.

It puts him well ahead of his nearest rival on the Rich List, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who is estimated to be worth £650m.

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Lloyd-Webber has also dabbled in the creation of a business. In 1977, he created The Really Useful Group due to the frustrations of not being in control over the management of his own work. The company was floated on the stock market and snatched up by Lloyd Webber four years later.

However, the powerhouse that is U2, third on the list, has been the most active in the business realm.

Ok, so it’s mostly Paul Hewson, otherwise known as Bono, that flies the U2 business banner. But Essex-born The Edge, has also helped along the way.

Bono started living the entrepreneurial life in 1992 when he bought and refurbished a Clarence Hotel in Dublin, with U2 guitarist The Edge. Together they also had a nightclub called The Kitchen.

He also has a stake in a chain of Dublin cafes called Nude, founded by his elder brother in 1999. Seemingly one to create businesses with family members, Bono founded Edun Clothing with wife Ali

Bono co-founded private equity firm Elevation Partners with former Silver Lake Partners’ Roger McNamee and Marc Bodnik, Apple’s Fred Anderson and Electronic Arts’ John Riccitiello. The business has stakes in companies such as Forbes, Facebook and Edios. 
But his latest venture has seen him add venture capital to his list of investment methods by becoming an advisor to TPG Capital.

The Edege and Bono have also joined the board of directors for Fender Musical instruments Corporation, the company behind the legendary Fender guitar lines.

Elton John and Mick Jagger follow with their own fortunes, said to be worth £270m and £225m respectively. The latter made a jump from music to movies in 1995 by co-founding Jagged Films with Victoria Pearman. That’s right, he became a film producer.

But that’s where the list falls flat, and where music royalties reign supreme. However, this may not be a bad sign. In fact, it may suggest how lucrative the UK music market truly is.

Unlike various celebrity markets such as sports, whereby age is a crucial factor, artists can continue to gain income from work they produced some 20 years ago. That only half of the list have delved into the entrepreneurial world is perhaps a good thing for the UK economy.

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The UK’s creative industries are together worth £36bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) and supports around 1.5m jobs. And according to BPI figures, the UK’s recorded music industry accounts for one in eight albums purchased by fans around the globe.

And with UK artists such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Adele and Paloma Faith riding high on the charts, it’s easy to see why the music industry has become the “poster boy” for British exports. 

The top ten ranking British musicians:

  1. Paul McCartney – £730m
  2. Andrew Lloyd-Webber –  £650m
  3. U2 – £431m
  4. Elton John – £270m
  5. Mick Jagger – £225m
  6. Keith Richards – £210 m
  7. Michael Flatley – £195m
  8. Ringo Starr – £180m
  9. Sting – £180m
  10. Roger Waters – £160m

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