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1. Jay Z
Net Worth: $560 million
Of course, a huge part of rappers’ job is image management, but no one’s been quite as successful at it as Shawn Carter. When the average Jay Z fan plunks down their hard-earned cash for Magna Carta Holy Grail, they aren’t just buying an established rapper’s new music, they’re buying into the patented Shawn Carter Hyper-Successful American Dream brand. Jay Z fan, bumping Tom Ford in his Honda: “Hell yeah, a real man acquires capital, bitches.” Of course, all this mostly applies to Beyoncé as well, just switch it to “Hell yeah, a real woman acquires capability, my bitches”.
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Net Worth: $76 million
Even the highest echelons of celebrities aren’t able to easily position their brands to align with entire cities, but as Russell Martin is determined to tell us every 5 minutes, Drake “kinda represents what Toronto’s all about.” It’s telling of just how identity-starved we are in how quickly Toronto embraced Aubrey as its official cultural ambassador, spokesman, and unofficial princeling but it could be worse I guess… beats the other one, anyway.
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3. Snoop Dogg
Net Worth: $150 million
The owner of arguably the most robust (and least diversified) personal brand in all of music, Calvin Broadus doesn’t just have an image of ‘person who enjoys weed’, he’s weed culture personified. Beating out the competition to become the definitive weed ambassador is no easy feat, especially when everyone in the hip-hop world wants a shot at the title. Settle down, Wiz Khalifa! Every college sex romp and vape pen manufacturer is eager to enlist Snoop’s services to show their commitment to high times, leading to amazing quotes like “once we started to dibble and dabble in the tech world, we seen that it was missing cool."
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4. Willie Nelson
Net Worth: $25 million
Exactly like Snoop, but for the market segment that speculates “rap” supply exhibits interrelated demand to “crap”.
5. Jimmy Buffett
Net Worth: $450 million
As every loyal Parrothead knows, Jimmy Buffett = good tropical times. That’s the first equation they drill into your head at Margaritaville community college. The tropical goofball’s hilariously cheesy gulf-n-western sound commands a loyal legion of fans, and as Buffett himself would probably tell you, it’s not because the music is that good. Buffet’s brand, solidified through his books, restaurants, and other business ventures, is all about one thing: augmenting that beach-bum brand. That, and cheeseburgers.
6. Weird Al
Net Worth: $16 million
Though the Dr. Demento show was littered with hopefuls, only one man broke away from the pack and managed to become synonymous with ‘funny music’. Nowadays it’s like you can’t even come up with a dentist-based parody of “I Can’t Feel My Face” without being compared to one Alfred Yankovic. I can only imagine how polka musicians feel.
7. Lady Gaga
Net Worth: $110 million
While no longer the market force she once was, Stefani Germanotta’s ubiquity didn’t stem entirely from pop anthems like “Alejandro”… she also managed to tap into the world’s, or at least, the world’s art kids’ of a certain temperament, longing for a poker-faced brand to call their very own. Sorry Bjork, but you shoulda written “Born This Way”.
8. Andrew WK
Net Worth: $4 million
I know this guy is known for something, I just can’t remember what.
These days, it’s no longer enough to just put your head down and work your way up some corporate ladder, uncaring or unaware of what kind of image you’re projecting to colleagues and your social circle, not to mention the Internet at large.
Unfortunately for all slackers, sluggards, slouches, loafers, loungers, lazybones, goldbrickers, goof-offs, idlers, deadbeats, do-nothings and privacy advocates, to become truly successful in 2015 now requires more than just hard work and moxie. You gotta know how to market yourself 24/7 through social media networks if you’re ever going to have a hope of sweet sweet financial freedom, or, you know, the standard of living your parents had at your age. *In Alec Baldwin voice* “Hard worker? Team player? Who cares! What kind of persona do potential clients imagine when they read your Twitter feed?”
Musicians, like all celebrities, have to engage in way more image management than the average person, and some are way more successful than others. “Writing a hit song is one thing, but successfully leveraging your persona into a palatable image for public consumption? Aye, there’s the rub” – noted marketing luminary Josh “The Prince” Hamlet. Here are 8 of the most successful musicians who’ve managed it, in our professional opinion.