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    Money Just Rolls In: Coldplay Earn Megabucks in 2005

    speedofsound3a.jpgPrivate jets, African hideaways, prenuptial parties, red carpet rages – life is so different for rich celebrities. And so, apparently, is death.

     

    When most of us shuffle off this mortal coil our earning power ends. But if you are a rich entertainer the pay cheques can keep coming.

     

    Elvis Presley died in 1977 but he is still earning $52 million a year. According to US magazine Forbes, Marilyn Monroe is making more money in the afterlife than she ever did on the big screen. Charles M. Schultz, the creator of cartoon strip Peanuts, is making much more than that in death, earning $45 million a year. But however lucrative death might be for some entertainers, life, for many, is certainly a lot more profitable.Take Sir Paul McCartney. He's staring down the barrel of an expensive divorce settlement but he can afford it. The former Beatle is the United Kingdom's richest entertainer, worth more than $2 billion last year – and that's just a cautious estimate.

     

    According to UK newspaper The Sunday Times, he has earned his wealth through royalties from The Beatles' back catalogue, inheritance from first wife Linda and earnings from his MPL Communications, which is one of the world's biggest privately owned music companies.

     

    When he turns 64 McCartney might not have someone to hold his hand but he certainly won't be sweating on his superannuation.

     

    If you haven't noticed, the rich are getting richer and while business chief executives watch their pay packets bulge beyond belief, entertainers are also experiencing a delirious gold rush fuelled by our enormous appetite to be amused. New technology may have threatened to kill the video star but downloading tunes and videoclips has given record companies and their artists another window to earn revenue. Also, we have thousands of songs at our fingertips stored away in our iPods but nothing beats a live concert and we remain avid showgoers giving bands such as U2 hefty boosts in income.

     

    Rock's wrinkly generation – The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Sting and Eric Clapton – are no longer big on the pop charts but who cares. They easily make it to the other top 10, the UK's richest entertainers.

     

    The Rolling Stones and McCartney are also among the wealthiest entertainment earners in the US, where they compete with film moguls for the top dollar. In his interview last year with Enough Rope's Andrew Denton, fimmaker Steven Spielberg spoke of downsizing his life.

     

    Perhaps he is living extremely well in small spaces because Spielberg is America's richest man in the entertainment business worth a massive $3 billion last year. Mel Gibson isn't that far behind earning $1.1 billion in 2005 according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. His movie The Passion of the Christ did underwhelming business at the box office but offering bulk discounts on DVDs to churches meant he got doubly rich off video and DVD sales.

     

    Wealth is important in Hollywood but it doesn't always buy total power. According to magazine Forbes, Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful celebrity in Hollywood yet she only earns a paltry $294 million. However, no one dares cross this doyenne of daytime television whose global empire spans books, magazines and movies. For a TV host the written word is proving a profitable sideline with Winfrey last week signing a book $16 million book deal to write about her weight battles.

     

    But it is not only smooth talk show hosts and wrinkled rockers who are rolling in dough. The money tree is also dropping leaves in the lap of our young entertainers. Electric violinist Vanessa-Mae Nicholson, 27, is the richest young entertainer in the UK, worth $80 million last year. This plucky Singaporean is busy buying houses in the posh London suburb of Kensington and building a ski lodge in the French Alps.

     

    Destined to be a mainstay of the rich list like the Rolling Stones and U2 are British band Coldplay, who between them earned $61 million last year. When they come to Brisbane later this year they will have no trouble paying their hotel bill.

     

    Singing and strumming a guitar has proved far more profitable than soldiering for Englishman James Blunt who earned $12 million last year. He's a new entry on the UK rich list as is crooner Jamie Cullum.

     

    The key to riches for any entertainer is going global or, more precisely, cracking the US market. U2 reigns supreme because the band is big in the US and the UK. According to Billboard's inaugural Money Makers chart, the band was the biggest rock 'n' roll money-spinner in the US last year, beating the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Elton John.

     

    They are Ireland's richest entertainers worth $1.6 billion in the UK between them last year. They made the most money of any rock act in the world with their Vertigo tour and the album How To Dismantle an Atom Bomb. But family still comes before money with the band postponing its Australian tour this year due to the illness of a U2 family member.

     

    Curiously, U2 lead singer Bono – easily the world's highest profile charity worker – is not among the top 30 names on The Sunday Times giving list. According to the list, Sir Elton John is the biggest giver, donating almost $60 million to charity.

     

    That's more than the earnings of Australia's richest entertainers, The Wiggles. Those bouncy blokes in their coloured sweatshirts earned more than $50 million last year to top the Business Review Weekly's list of our top 50 entertainers.

     

    Their earnings have skyrocketed in the past three years – in 2002 they earned $14 million. Their income is from earnings from shows, merchandise sales and a joint venture with Macquarie Leisure Trust which owns Dreamworld amusement park.

     

    The spread of Wigglemania to the US, the UK and Japan has been the secret to the group's success and all of our richest entertainers can credit their improving pay cheques to their international appeal.

     

    Country singer Keitih Urban hit it big in the US in 2005 with his earnings rising from a meagre $4.7 million in 2004 to $20 million last year.

     

    His stocks are destined to rise, not only because of his union with Nicole Kidman (No.3 on the Australian rich list) but because the Americans like his music.

     

    He was voted Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year in 2005, taking over from previous year winner Kenny Chesney.

     

    Now that Urban has Chesney's award he could soon match the singer's pay packet which last year added up to $115 million.

     

    Moving on up will be Hugh Jackman, who this year replaced Russell Crowe as Australia's highest paid star. Next year he might just edge out Nicole Kidman and rock kings AC/DC after signing a new deal to promote Foxtel, starring in arena spectacular The Boy From Oz and taking the lead in a clutch of new movies.

     

    For Jackman and the other rich entertainers, it might be a long way to the top, but once you're there the only way is up. Even in death.

     

    Source: couriermail.news.com.au




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