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 unknown singer/songwriter to teen pop idol status 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

Rank Artist Genre Estimated. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017 Most Popular Song – Title
1 Shawn Mendes Pop/Rock $5,341.23 There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back
2 Marshmello Electronic $4,597.25 Silence
3 Khalid R&B $4,241.85 Young Dumb & Broke
4 Justin Bieber Pop/Rock $4,079.98 Friends (with BloodPop ®)
5 Luis Fonsi Latin $3,798.75 Despacito – Remix
6 Maggie Lindemann Pop/Rock$3074Pretty Girl – Cheat Codes X CADE Remix
7 Sam Hunt Country $2,999.02 Body Like A Back Road
8 Clean Bandit Pop/Rock, Electronic $2,997.53 Symphony (feat. Zara Larsson)
9 Martin Garrix Electronic $2,759.75 Scared to Be Lonely
10 Zedd Electronic $2,730.49 Stay (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 thanks to 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

Rank Artist Genre Estimated. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017 Most Popular Song – Title
91 Kesha Pop/Rock $292.81 Praying
92 Lil Pump Rap $282.44 Gucci Gang
93 Chris Brown R&B $216.70 Questions
94 Gucci Mane Rap $213.19 I Get The Bag (feat. Migos)
95 21 Savage Rap $189.55 Bank Account
96 21 Savage Rap $189.55 Bank Account
97 Logic Rap $172.25 1-800-273-8255
98 Future Rap $144.02 Mask Off
99 Big Sean Rap $63.92 Moves
100 Eminem Rap $58.89 River (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 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

Rank Artist Genre Estd. Earnings Per Lyric in 2017 Most Popular Song – Title
1 Shawn Mendes Pop/Rock $5,341.23 There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back
2 Marshmello Electronic $4,597.25 Silence
3 Khalid R&B $4,241.85 Young Dumb & Broke
4 Justin Bieber Pop/Rock $4,079.98 Friends (with BloodPop ®)
5 Luis Fonsi Latin $3,798.75 Despacito – Remix
6 Maggie Lindemann Pop/Rock $3,074.71 Pretty Girl – Cheat Codes X CADE Remix
7 Sam Hunt Country $2,999.02 Body Like A Back Road
8 Clean Bandit Pop/Rock, Electronic $2,997.53 Symphony (feat. Zara Larsson)
9 Martin Garrix Electronic $2,759.75 Scared to Be Lonely
10 Zedd Electronic $2,730.49 Stay (with Alessia Cara)
11 Manuel Turizo Latin, Electronic $2,647.59 Una Lady Como TÚ
12 Portugal. The Man Pop/Rock $2,453.63 Feel It Still
13 Post Malone Rap $2,214.49 rockstar
14 Jonas Blue Electronic $2,161.86 Mama
15 Enrique Iglesias Latin, Pop/Rock $2,145.75 SUBEME LA RADIO
16 The Chainsmokers Electronic $2,144.32 Something Just Like This
17 Kygo Electronic $2,098.35 It Ain’t Me (with Selena Gomez)
18 Wisin Latin $2,083.14 Escápate Conmigo
19 Charlie Puth Pop/Rock $1,984.71 Attention
20 Travis Scott Rap $1,975.72 Butterfly Effect
21 Cheat Codes Electronic, Pop/Rock $1,915.99 No Promises (feat. Demi Lovato)
22 J Balvin Latin $1,849.93 Mi Gente
23 Ed Sheeran Pop/Rock $1,805.69 Shape of You
24 Becky G Pop/Rock, Rap $1,717.36 Mayores
25 Lauv Electronic, R&B, Pop/Rock $1,693.12 I Like Me Better
26 Julia Michaels Pop/Rock $1,662.49 Issues
27 Dua Lipa Pop/Rock $1,650.51 New Rules
28 Hailee Steinfeld Pop/Rock $1,637.00 Most Girls
29 Jason Derulo Pop/Rock $1,599.69 Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)
30 Nicky Jam Latin $1,597.90 El Amante
31 Rita Ora Pop/Rock. R&B $1,536.74 Your Song
32 ZAYN Pop/Rock $1,527.17 I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) – From “Fifty Shades Darker (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”
33 Liam Payne Pop/Rock, Electronic, R&B $1,490.56 Strip That Down
34 Selena Gomez Pop/Rock $1,416.45 Bad Liar
35 David Guetta Electronic $1,396.38 2U (feat. Justin Bieber)
36 Natti Natasha Latin, Rap $1,396.26 Criminal
37 Maluma Latin, Pop/Rock $1,390.12 Felices los 4
38 Chris Jeday Latin $1,379.90 Ahora Dice
39 Axwell / Ingrosso Electronic $1,325.37 More Than You Know
40 French Montana Rap $1,319.85 Unforgettable
41 Imagine Dragons Pop/Rock $1,282.55 Thunder
42 NF Rap, Religious $1,245.05 Let You Down
43 Carlos Vives Latin, International $1,231.35 Robarte un Beso
44 XXXTENTACION Rap $1,177.97 Look at Me!
45 CNCO Latin, Pop/Rock $1,145.30 Hey DJ
46 Louis Tomlinson Pop/Rock $1,091.17 Back to You (feat. Bebe Rexha & Digital Farm Animals)
47 Maroon 5 Pop/Rock $1,085.23 What Lovers Do (feat. SZA)
48 Major Lazer Electronic, Pop/Rock, Reggae $1,064.72 Know No Better (feat. Travis Scott, Camila Cabello & Quavo)
49 Shakira Latin, Pop/Rock $1,026.36 Me Enamoré
50 Avicii Electronic Lonely Together (feat. Rita Ora) $1,023.88
51 Daddy Yankee Latin $1,013.75 La Rompe Corazones
52 Lady Gaga Pop/Rock $991.72 The Cure
53 Nacho Latin $938.95 Báilame – Remix
54 Niall Horan Pop/Rock $933.16 Slow Hands
55 Camila Cabello Pop/Rock $924.58 Havana
56 OneRepublic Pop/Rock $889.52 Rich Love (with Seeb)
57 Macklemore Rap $849.42 Glorious (feat. Skylar Grey)
58 Demi Lovato Pop/Rock $841.35 Sorry Not Sorry
59 Alex Sensation Latin, International $829.03 Que Va
60 Halsey Pop/Rock $731.69 Now Or Never
61 Kendrick Lamar Rap $720.89 HUMBLE.
62 Calvin Harris Electronic, Pop/Rock $717.56 Feels
63 Robin Schulz Electronic $710.16 OK
64 Drake Rap $706.21 Passionfruit
65 Piso 21 Latin, Pop/Rock $695.21 Besándote
66 Playboi Carti Rap $664.64 Magnolia
67 Pitbull Latin, Rap $663.61 Hey Ma (with Pitbull & J Balvin feat. Camila Cabello) – Spanish Version
68 Katy Perry Pop/Rock $659.42 Chained To The Rhythm
69 Romeo Santos Latin $591.23 Bella y Sensual
70 Miley Cyrus Pop/Rock $582.54 Malibu
71 blackbear Rap $572.91 do re mi
72 Sebastian Yatra Latin, International, Pop/Rock $539.57 Traicionera
73 Cardi B Rap $534.40 Bodak Yellow
74 Alan Walker Electronic $521.68 All Falls Down
75 DJ Khaled Rap $517.28 I’m the One
76 Harry Styles Pop/Rock $514.06 Sign of the Times
77 Ozuna Latin, Rap $508.41 Se Preparó
78 A Boogie Wit da Hoodie Rap $507.17 Drowning (feat. Kodak Black)
79 Kodak Black Rap $491.93 Tunnel Vision
80 Yandel Latin $481.10 Explícale
81 P!nk Pop/Rock $463.18 What About Us
82 2 Chainz Rap $458.72 It’s A Vibe
83 Anitta Pop/Rock, Latin $449.72 Downtown
84 Snakehips Electronic $428.24 Don’t Leave
85 Sam Smith Pop/Rock $407.99 Too Good At Goodbyes – Edit
86 Taylor Swift Pop/Rock, Country $406.48 Look What You Made Me Do
87 Bebe Rexha Pop/Rock $376.59 Meant to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line)
88 G-Eazy Rap $341.19 Good Life (with G-Eazy & Kehlani)
89 Lorde Pop/Rock $315.93 Green Light
90 Lil Uzi Vert Rap $304.80 XO TOUR Llif3
91 Kesha Pop/Rock $292.81 Praying
92 Lil Pump Rap $282.44 Gucci Gang
93 Chris Brown R&B $216.70 Questions
94 Gucci Mane Rap $213.19 I Get The Bag (feat. Migos)
95 21 Savage Rap $189.55 Bank Account
96 21 Savage Rap $189.55 Bank Account
97 Logic Rap $172.25 1-800-273-8255
98 Future Rap $144.02 Mask Off
99 Big Sean Rap $63.92 Moves
100 Eminem Rap $58.89 River (feat. Ed Sheeran)