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You Won’t Believe Who the Richest Musician of All Time Is (Hint: It’s Not Paul McCartney)

The music industry is a difficult business to understand, from the outside and from the inside. Just as talent doesn’t guarantee success, pop stardom doesn’t guarantee endless riches for an artist. The musicians who make the most money from their careers are often just the ones who sign the right contracts, wisely invest the money they earn from hit singles, and find some way to maintain their longevity in a notoriously fickle industry.

It also helps to diversify one’s resume with film or television appearances, as we can see from the names who made it onto the following list. These are the 10 richest musicians in ascending order, with adjustments for inflation back to the 1950s. All information is sourced from Business Insider.

10. Michael Jackson: $350 million

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Michael Jackson | Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Jackson made roughly $50 million a year at the peak of his popularity through the ’80s and into the ’90s, earning him vast sums from record sales, highly-publicized tours, and a $5 million dollar partnership with Pepsi. In his later years, the King of Pop became notorious for the outrageous ways he spent his money, and racked up $200 million in debt by 2003 — which was still far less than what he was worth.

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