Dr. Dre earned $950 million in the past decade—here are the other 9 top-earning musicians of the 2010s

Dr. Dre attends a special screening of "The Defiant Ones" at the Ritzy Picturehouse Brixton on March 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.
David M. Benett | Dave Benett | WireImage

In 2014, French electro-pop duo Daft Punk swept the Grammys, music streaming service Spotify was named to CNBC's Disruptor 50 list and no one could get Pharrell Williams' chart-topping hit "Happy" out of their heads.

The year also marked when Beats Electronics, owned by super-producer and businessman Andre Young (aka Dr. Dre) was acquired by Apple for $3 billion. This major deal helped Dr. Dre secure his top spot as the highest-paid musician of the 2010s, during which time he earned a reported $950 million, according to Forbes' list of the 10 top-earning musicians of the decade. Also known as Beats by Dre, the company is best known for its line of headphones and speakers.

Unlike Taylor Swift and Beyonce, who come in second, earning $825 million, and third, earning $685 million respectively, Dr. Dre didn't spend the past decade going on sold-out world tours to promote multi-platinum albums.

In fact, his last album, "Compton," was released in 2015 as the soundtrack to the biopic he produced, "Straight Outta Compton," about his start in the music industry as a member of N.W.A. The last No. 1 hit he produced was in 2009, when he worked with Eminem and 50 Cent on the single "Crack a Bottle."

To be sure, Dr. Dre's own work as a rapper, musician and producer for artists such Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige has boosted his earning power; it also led to Rolling Stone's calling him one of the 100 greatest artists of our time.

But the artist's work outside of the recording studio, namely as an entrepreneur with continued work through Beats and Apple Music, helped him come out on top in the 2010s.

Dr. Dre's business prowess has inspired the likes of billionaire mogul Richard Branson. After watching HBO's documentary "The Defiant Ones," which chronicles the music industry successes of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, Branson said he admired the duo's approach to fear and setbacks.

"It is down to perseverance, seeing obstacles as opportunities and embracing fear as a fuel for change," Branson wrote in a blog post.

Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch agrees that Dr. Dre's path in music is one worth taking career advice from. Also praising the HBO documentary, she said she appreciated its "lessons about how you get what so many people dream of when they dream of their careers: huge impact."

The Forbes list is compiled using touring data from Pollstar and music consumption data from Nielsen, and does not include behind-the-scenes earners such as agents or managers. The ranking also doesn't take into account postmortem earnings. (By this measure, Michael Jackson would come in at No. 1 with $2.37 billion in earnings over the past 10 years.)

Here are the other artists who join Dr. Dre in earning the most money in the 2010s.

10. Lady Gaga: $500 million

Lady Gaga attends the The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp.
Rabbani and Solimene Photography | WireImage | Getty Images

9. Katy Perry: $530 million

Artist Katy Perry performs onstage during the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
Kevin Mazur | WireImage | Getty Images

8. Paul McCartney: $535 million

Musician Paul McCartney performs during Desert Trip at The Empire Polo Club on October 15, 2016 in Indio, California.
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images

7. Jay-Z: $560 million

Samir Hussein | Getting Images

6. Elton John: $565 million

Elton John performs at the Andrea Bocelli show
Jonathan Leibson | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

5. Diddy: $605 million

Sean "Diddy" Combs
Mike Pont | Getty Images

4. U2: $675 million

Getty Images

3. Beyonce: $685 million

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1.
Larry Busacca | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

2. Taylor Swift: $825 million

Singer Taylor Swift performs on the stage during the gala of 2019 Alibaba 11.11 Global Shopping Festival at Mercedes-Benz Arena on November 10, 2019 in Shanghai, China.
VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

1. Dr. Dre: $950 million

Dr. Dre
Elsa | Getty Images
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