Dr. Dre Is World’s Highest-Paid Musician: Yes, It’s the Headphones

The rapper and businessman built a headphones empire that paid him $110 million last year

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Dr. Dre.

Ain’t nuthin’ but a money thing.

Dr. Dre, known for hits like “Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” “I Need a Doctor,” “Still D.R.E.” and “California Love,” tops Forbes‘ new list of The World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians — largely due to the success of his Beatsbydre headphones line.

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The rapper raked in $110 million in total before taxes between May 2011 and May 2012. Forbes’ Zack O’Malley Greenburg explains:

“He collected $100 million pretax when handset maker HTC paid $300 million for a 51% stake in the company last year, at the beginning of our scoring period; he and his partners later bought back half of what they sold.

The brands are so aligned, Dre and Beats, it’s just who he is,” says Kevin Liles, former president of Def Jam Recordings, who now manages acts ranging from Young Jeezy to Trey Songz. “If you look at the biggest earners, the guys have been doing it for 20 years … what’s happening now is people are really telling their truth.”

Dr. Dre also stole the show at Coachella in April when he performed with Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, and the Tupac hologram.

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Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters nabs the No. 2 spot on the list with $88 million, thanks to the success of his worldwide concert tour The Wall Live, where he performs all of the Pink Floyd album The Wall.

Elton John rocketed to third place, boasting $80 million. In addition to performing 100 concerts during the survey period, the performer’s animated film Gnomeo and Juliet grossed $200 million, the magazine reports.

U2 led the Forbes list in 2011, and now they are No. 4, all thanks to the roaring success of their “360” tour, which earned “$736 million over three years,” making it the highest-grossing tour in history.

The British boy band Take That takes fifth place, grossing $61 million for eight dates at London’s Wembley Stadium, “the highest-grossing single-stadium stand recorded to that point,” according to Forbes.

Other musicians in the top 10 (in descending order): Jon Bon Jovi ($60 million), Britney Spears ($58 million), Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift tied for eighth place ($57 million each), and Justin Bieber and Toby Keith tied for tenth place ($55 million each). View the rest of the list here.

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