Highest Earning Musicians Per Lyric

While we're young dumb
Young, young dumb and broke
Young dumb
Young, young dumb and broke
Young dumb
Young dumb
Young, young dumb and broke
Young dumb broke high school kids...

Recognize the hook? It’s from the hit song that catapulted Khalid from being an unknown singer/songwriter to a teen pop idol in 2017. If it seemed like the world had Young Dumb & Broke on repeat for most of last year, it’s because we did, playing it more than 290 million times on Spotify alone.

Based on The Trichordist’s estimate of pay-per-stream royalty rates, Spotify paid Khalid nearly $1.2 million for his streaming success. Oh, and did we mention that he’s still too young to drink legally in bars?

Here’s something else to give you pause to reflect on your life decisions. Young Dumb & Broke has 275 lyrics, which means Khalid earned a staggering $4241.85 for each lyric on that song! He might be young, but he sure isn't dumb or broke.

This back-of-the-envelope calculation got us wondering how Khalid compares with his pop music peers in terms of earnings per lyric. $4242 is a lot, but did other musicians take home higher per-lyric earnings for songs they put out in 2017? We examined Spotify streaming data to find out.

Read about the methodology behind these rankings below.

The 10 Highest Earning Musicians Per Lyric

RankArtistGenreEstimated. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017Most Popular Song - Title
1Shawn MendesPop/Rock$5,341.23There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back
2MarshmelloElectronic$4,597.25Silence
3KhalidR&B$4,241.85Young Dumb & Broke
4Justin BieberPop/Rock$4,079.98Friends (with BloodPop ®)
5Luis FonsiLatin$3,798.75Despacito - Remix
6Maggie LindemannPop/Rock$3074Pretty Girl - Cheat Codes X CADE Remix
7Sam HuntCountry$2,999.02Body Like A Back Road
8Clean BanditPop/Rock, Electronic$2,997.53Symphony (feat. Zara Larsson)
9Martin GarrixElectronic$2,759.75Scared to Be Lonely
10ZeddElectronic$2,730.49Stay (with Alessia Cara)

Believe it or not, Shawn Mendes, Marshmello and Khalid are the three highest earners per lyric from last year. Spotify paid them $5341.23, $4,597.25 and $4,241.85 respectively for each lyric on their songs. Pop veterans Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi round out the top five, with viral mega-hits Friends and Despacito.

Combined, the top five musicians released just seven songs last year, showing that viral singles beat full album releases when it comes to earning more money for less lyrical output.

The Lowest Earning Musicians Per Lyric

RankArtistGenreEstimated. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017Most Popular Song - Title
91KeshaPop/Rock$292.81Praying
92Lil PumpRap$282.44Gucci Gang
93Chris BrownR&B$216.70Questions
94Gucci ManeRap$213.19I Get The Bag (feat. Migos)
9521 SavageRap$189.55Bank Account
9621 SavageRap$189.55Bank Account
97LogicRap$172.251-800-273-8255
98FutureRap$144.02Mask Off
99Big SeanRap$63.92Moves
100EminemRap$58.89River (feat. Ed Sheeran)

Bringing up the rear in last place is Eminem, which is mildly surprising considering his new songs got more than 200 million streams in 2017. But things start to make sense when you consider that the self-proclaimed Rap God released more new songs - 18 - than all but two other artists on this list. Plus, the songs he did release are far more lyrically dense than those of the average artist - he averages 784 lyrics per song, more than three times as many as Khalid! Most of Slim Shady's songs also came out at the tail end of 2017, meaning they had less time to rack up streams than some of the others on this list.

In general, rap seems to be the least lucrative form of lyricism - eight of the ten lowest-earning artists were rappers pulling in less than $300 per lyric. 21 Savage talks about the size of his bank account on his hit song of the same name, but his braggadocious bars actually made him in 28x less money than Shawn Mendes. Meanwhile, in eighth-from-last place is Chris Brown, who earns the dubious distinction of being the R&B artist who sings the most for his supper.

Methodology

All song streaming data comes from Spotify. We ranked the most streamed artists by aggregating the stream counts for all songs released in 2017 that charted in Spotify’s Daily Top 200 in 2017. For the purposes of determining a song’s release date, we cross-referenced song listings from Discogs, Ultimate Music Database and Spotify. Where a release date differs between these sources, we’ve used the earliest listed release date. Music genre classification data is sourced from All Music. Estimated artist earnings from Spotify are calculated using pay-per-stream royalty data, courtesy of The Trichordist.

Check out the complete rankings below.

Complete Rankings

RankArtistGenreEstd. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017Most Popular Song - Title
1Shawn MendesPop/Rock$5,341.23There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back
2MarshmelloElectronic$4,597.25Silence
3KhalidR&B$4,241.85Young Dumb & Broke
4Justin BieberPop/Rock$4,079.98Friends (with BloodPop ®)
5Luis FonsiLatin$3,798.75Despacito - Remix
6Maggie LindemannPop/Rock$3,074.71Pretty Girl - Cheat Codes X CADE Remix
7Sam HuntCountry$2,999.02Body Like A Back Road
8Clean BanditPop/Rock, Electronic$2,997.53Symphony (feat. Zara Larsson)
9Martin GarrixElectronic$2,759.75Scared to Be Lonely
10ZeddElectronic$2,730.49Stay (with Alessia Cara)
11Manuel TurizoLatin, Electronic$2,647.59Una Lady Como TÚ
12Portugal. The ManPop/Rock$2,453.63Feel It Still
13Post MaloneRap$2,214.49rockstar
14Jonas BlueElectronic$2,161.86Mama
15Enrique IglesiasLatin, Pop/Rock$2,145.75SUBEME LA RADIO
16The ChainsmokersElectronic$2,144.32Something Just Like This
17KygoElectronic$2,098.35It Ain't Me (with Selena Gomez)
18WisinLatin$2,083.14Escápate Conmigo
19Charlie PuthPop/Rock$1,984.71Attention
20Travis ScottRap$1,975.72Butterfly Effect
21Cheat CodesElectronic, Pop/Rock$1,915.99No Promises (feat. Demi Lovato)
22J BalvinLatin$1,849.93Mi Gente
23Ed SheeranPop/Rock$1,805.69Shape of You
24Becky GPop/Rock, Rap$1,717.36Mayores
25LauvElectronic, R&B, Pop/Rock$1,693.12I Like Me Better
26Julia MichaelsPop/Rock$1,662.49Issues
27Dua LipaPop/Rock$1,650.51New Rules
28Hailee SteinfeldPop/Rock$1,637.00Most Girls
29Jason DeruloPop/Rock$1,599.69Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)
30Nicky JamLatin$1,597.90El Amante
31Rita OraPop/Rock. R&B$1,536.74Your Song
32ZAYNPop/Rock$1,527.17I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) - From "Fifty Shades Darker (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)"
33Liam PaynePop/Rock, Electronic, R&B$1,490.56Strip That Down
34Selena GomezPop/Rock$1,416.45Bad Liar
35David GuettaElectronic$1,396.382U (feat. Justin Bieber)
36Natti NatashaLatin, Rap$1,396.26Criminal
37MalumaLatin, Pop/Rock$1,390.12Felices los 4
38Chris JedayLatin$1,379.90Ahora Dice
39Axwell /\ IngrossoElectronic$1,325.37More Than You Know
40French MontanaRap$1,319.85Unforgettable
41Imagine DragonsPop/Rock$1,282.55Thunder
42NFRap, Religious$1,245.05Let You Down
43Carlos VivesLatin, International$1,231.35Robarte un Beso
44XXXTENTACIONRap$1,177.97Look at Me!
45CNCOLatin, Pop/Rock$1,145.30Hey DJ
46Louis TomlinsonPop/Rock$1,091.17Back to You (feat. Bebe Rexha & Digital Farm Animals)
47Maroon 5Pop/Rock$1,085.23What Lovers Do (feat. SZA)
48Major LazerElectronic, Pop/Rock, Reggae$1,064.72Know No Better (feat. Travis Scott, Camila Cabello & Quavo)
49ShakiraLatin, Pop/Rock$1,026.36Me Enamoré
50AviciiElectronicLonely Together (feat. Rita Ora)$1,023.88
51Daddy YankeeLatin$1,013.75La Rompe Corazones
52Lady GagaPop/Rock$991.72The Cure
53NachoLatin$938.95Báilame - Remix
54Niall HoranPop/Rock$933.16Slow Hands
55Camila CabelloPop/Rock$924.58Havana
56OneRepublicPop/Rock$889.52Rich Love (with Seeb)
57MacklemoreRap$849.42Glorious (feat. Skylar Grey)
58Demi LovatoPop/Rock$841.35Sorry Not Sorry
59Alex SensationLatin, International$829.03Que Va
60HalseyPop/Rock$731.69Now Or Never
61Kendrick LamarRap$720.89HUMBLE.
62Calvin HarrisElectronic, Pop/Rock$717.56Feels
63Robin SchulzElectronic$710.16OK
64DrakeRap$706.21Passionfruit
65Piso 21Latin, Pop/Rock$695.21Besándote
66Playboi CartiRap$664.64Magnolia
67PitbullLatin, Rap$663.61Hey Ma (with Pitbull & J Balvin feat. Camila Cabello) - Spanish Version
68Katy PerryPop/Rock$659.42Chained To The Rhythm
69Romeo SantosLatin$591.23Bella y Sensual
70Miley CyrusPop/Rock$582.54Malibu
71blackbearRap$572.91do re mi
72Sebastian YatraLatin, International, Pop/Rock$539.57Traicionera
73Cardi BRap$534.40Bodak Yellow
74Alan WalkerElectronic$521.68All Falls Down
75DJ KhaledRap$517.28I'm the One
76Harry StylesPop/Rock$514.06Sign of the Times
77OzunaLatin, Rap$508.41Se Preparó
78A Boogie Wit da HoodieRap$507.17Drowning (feat. Kodak Black)
79Kodak BlackRap$491.93Tunnel Vision
80YandelLatin$481.10Explícale
81P!nkPop/Rock$463.18What About Us
822 ChainzRap$458.72It's A Vibe
83AnittaPop/Rock, Latin$449.72Downtown
84SnakehipsElectronic$428.24Don't Leave
85Sam SmithPop/Rock$407.99Too Good At Goodbyes - Edit
86Taylor SwiftPop/Rock, Country$406.48Look What You Made Me Do
87Bebe RexhaPop/Rock$376.59Meant to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line)
88G-EazyRap$341.19Good Life (with G-Eazy & Kehlani)
89LordePop/Rock$315.93Green Light
90Lil Uzi VertRap$304.80XO TOUR Llif3
91KeshaPop/Rock$292.81Praying
92Lil PumpRap$282.44Gucci Gang
93Chris BrownR&B$216.70Questions
94Gucci ManeRap$213.19I Get The Bag (feat. Migos)
9521 SavageRap$189.55Bank Account
9621 SavageRap$189.55Bank Account
97LogicRap$172.251-800-273-8255
98FutureRap$144.02Mask Off
99Big SeanRap$63.92Moves
100EminemRap$58.89River (feat. Ed Sheeran)

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