Top 12 Most Powerful Musicians of Today

Written by muchmusic

When compiling a list of the Most Powerful Musicians, one must take into account not just album sales, but also clothing lines, fragrances, sold-out tours, charities, endorsement deals and, of course, relevancy. When you throw all of these important ingredients together and bake for more than 15 minutes of fame, you get the following 12 entertainers.

12. 50 Cent The King of Drama


At the age of 12, Curtis James Jackson III (aka 50 Cent) started dealing drugs. He was then arrested, served 6 months, and got his GED. Then, in 2000, he was shot nine times – DRAMA! – only to come back stronger than ever, breaking into the music industry and being one of today’s most successful rappers. It’s a compelling story, hence the making of Get Rich or Die Tryin’, the semi-autobiographical movie in which he also starred. And then, even though he didn’t retire like he said he would after Kanye West sold more albums than he did, 50 Cent is proving he’s still a fighter: he has 6 – yes, SIX – movies in the works and a new album (most likely) coming out later this year – which is aptly titled Before I Self Destruct. Duly noted.

11. Christina Aguilera The Chameleon


Christina Aguilera is one of the most successful female recording artists of the decade. She has had 18 Grammy nominations, 5 Wins, and has sold over 37 million albums worldwide. Although she just gave birth to her first son in January, she shows no signs of slowing down. She doesn’t have a new album coming out in the near future, but she has 2 best-selling European perfumes with a 3rd on the way. She also has made her mark by avidly supporting such charities and organizations as Missing Kids, Women’s Cancer Research Fund, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. She also donated all of her wedding gifts in support of Hurricane Katrina victims. Christina Aguilera wears many hats – a singer, a songwriter, a philanthropist – and she looks great in all of them.

10. Miley Cyrus The Teen Queen


At first glance, 15-year-old Miley Cyrus might just look like your typical well-to-do teenager: a bubbly, happy-go-lucky girl, making silly YouTube videos with her best friend, Mandy. But oh yeah – she is also the star of that hugely-popular Hannah Montana TV show; has a Hannah Montana clothing line; toured extensively with those Jonas Brothers, selling-out tickets in record speed; has had a number 1 album and is about to release another one that will most likely shoot to the top; and, according to Forbes magazine, is earning $3.5 million+ per year. She is a Disney dream come true, but a consumer’s nightmare since she is the sole reason that mom’s everywhere are breaking the bank – and that’s pretty damn powerful.

9. Bono The Global Ambassador


If there is one person who fully demonstrates that activism and celebrity can go hand-in-hand, it is Bono. By day he is merely the lead singer of U2, one of the greatest rock bands of all time, but by night, he is healing the world. To wit: he was the founder of the multinational non-government organization DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade in Africa), was the co-founder of Product Red and the ONE Campaign, was named a Person of the Year by TIME magazine, was an organizer of the Live 8 concerts, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and was even granted an honorary knighthood by the UK. The only logical next-step: Sainthood.

8. Kanye West The Loudmouth


Kanye West is kind of like that little kid at the grocery store who throws a fit when no one buys him that KitKat bar in the check-out aisle. You see, he will complain when he doesn’t win the Best Album Grammy and will storm the stage in outrage when he doesn’t win the Best Video Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards. But in the end, he still manages to sell a shitload of albums, sell-out concert after concert and wrangle fellow powerhouse performers to go on tour with him, such as Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. So no matter how much kicking and screaming he does, the man’s got clout and talent – and in the end, he will always get that KitKat bar.

7. Beyonce The Bootylicious Businesswoman


Her body may be Bootylicious, but both Beyonce’s vocal talent and business-savvy are what have propelled her to the top of her game. She no longer is the lead singer of some passe girl group, but rather a solo artist/brand who has won 5 Grammy Awards for her chart-topping albums, been nominated for 2 Golden Globe Awards for her hit movie Dreamgirls, has launched a fashion line with her mom called House of Dereon, and is the face of Pepsi and L’Oreal. She’s got piles of personality and charm to boot and it also doesn’t hurt that she recently married R&B rapper/producer/ultimate-moneymaker Jay-Z. With so much going for her, Beyonce has proven that she truly is Irreplaceable.

6. Timbaland The Music Maestro


Timbaland is the man with the Midas touch. He has produced chart-topping beats for all the musical heavy-hitters and is the man responsible for putting OneRepublic on the map with that little ditty Apologize. You may have heard of it. His latest endeavour was Madonna‘s Hard Candy which recently debuted at number one in 27 countries, proving once again that Timbaland knows how to spin dance-able gold and that’s simply The Way He Are.

5. Hilary Duff The Mini Mogul


Once upon a time, Hilary Duff was the star of a little Disney TV show called Lizzie McGuire. What followed was a career explosion which included a successful solo career (selling over 13 million albums worldwide), an affordable personal clothing line (Stuff by Hilary Duff), lucrative endorsements (namely with Elizabeth Arden), and now a blossoming film career (War, Inc.), all while avoiding the controversies of sex-tapes and DUIs. This 20-year-old “good girl” reigns supreme; however she better watch out – Miley Cyrus is taking notes and is set on dethroning Queen Duff. Let the war of the Disney Darlings begin…

4. Diddy The Unstoppable Entrepreneur


P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Sean Combs, call him whatever you want – the man has proven that he is more than just a name. In a career speckled with controversy (such as being held partly responsible for trampled audience members at a charity concert, charges of assault, and an arrest for weapons violations), there is no denying that the man is a marketing juggernaut. Along with his successful rap career, he has his own extremely lucrative clothing line Sean John, re-invented the Making The Band TV show, and has even appeared on Broadway – but perhaps his biggest contribution to the music industry has been his founding of Bad Boy Records which houses the likes of Yung Joc, Keyshia Cole and Danity Kane. Oh yeah – his butler, Farnsworth Bentley, has even become famous simply for being Diddy’s butler. You know when that happens that you’re dealing with Hollywood royalty.

3. Madonna The Living Legend


There is a reason Madonna “Madge” Ciccone has been nicknamed Her Madgesty; she truly is the Queen of Pop, ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America as the “Best Selling Female Rock Artist of the Twentieth Century.” She has an estimated net worth of over $400 million, her last 4 albums have debuted at number one, her new buddy Justin Timberlake just inducted her into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, and she recently signed a 10-year contract with concert promoters Live Nation for $120 million! Showing no signs of fatigue, 49-year-old Madonna is as fit, healthy and savvy as ever, proving that she’ll be around for more than just 4 Minutes.

2. Jay-Z The Franchise


It takes a lot of guts to retire from the music industry, only to come back a few years later, bigger than ever – but that’s exactly what Jay-Z did. And it takes a lot of guts to head up a successful record company, only to eventually leave it for an even better deal – but (again) that’s exactly what Jay-Z did. In 2004, he was appointed as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, where he signed such major newcomers as Ne-Yo and Rihanna, but when Live Nation came a’callin’ with a $150 million deal, Jay-Z was quick to take it. With 25 Grammy nominations and 7 wins, he is allowed to take risks – but for Jay-Z, it has all just been a walk in the park.

1. Justin Timberlake The New King of Pop


Back in 1991, the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson released an album entitled Dangerous, which launched 6 Top 20 hits. Flash forward 15 years and Justin Timberlake releases his second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which goes on to launch 6 Top 20 hits. The only difference here is that when Michael Jackson accomplished said feat, he was nearing the end of his musical career – Justin Timberlake is only just beginning. Girls love him, guys want to be him, and parents think he’s the perfect boy to have over for Christmas dinner. He inducts Madonna into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he dates respectable women, and he loves getting Punk’d. He sings, he dances, he plays piano and guitar, he beatboxes, and now he acts. It seems the man can do no wrong, and thus he ends up at number 1. The New King of Pop, indeed.

Photographs Courtesy Getty Images

26 thoughts on “Top 12 Most Powerful Musicians of Today

  1. jess

    eww JT is not the new king of POP…

  2. Adam

    i agree with this list (even if i dont like most of these artists), however jack white has to be #13 the guy has won every grammy he’s ever been nominated for, everything he’s touched has won critical acclaim, and sells a ton of albums internationally. He has won the endorsements of legends like bob dylan, jimmy page and slash. When i heard he walked into warner brothers saying “this is the new [Raconteurs] album, i want it out by next week” and they did what he asked, thats pretty powerful.

  3. afrikanbreeze

    I definitely agree with this list. All these people continue to rise and make more money, even when they are not producing an album. They have branched out into more than just their performances.


    I don’t agree with this article. They are not musicians. In the best of the cases they are only singers. In the worst of the cases they are only dancers…

  5. Tedel

    JT the new king of pop? No way José… He’s not very listened where I live (Peru), while Michael Jackson was an absolute superstar right after Thriller.

  6. Energy Guy

    I have to give a nod to Campinon, it’s a stretch to call some of them musicians, but not all. Obviously this list is from an American perspective. Most of the world doesn’t speak English. How about Shakira, or Fairuz, or Hirai, or Baba Mal, Shankar, or …

  7. daniel amadi


  8. Tom Human

    Wow, that’s pretty depressing. Few if any of these people are musicians at all…

  9. Make Bono Retire

    Please….enough with the constant worship of Bono’s charity work. Everything he does is super self-righteous, not to mention ineffective. The RED Campaign raised $40 million less than it spent on marketing, while sending the message that all you have to do to fight AIDS is buy T-shirts.

    Join the campaign calling on Bono to retire from public life:

  10. Musician with taste

    Muchmusic has taken leave of his/her senses. This is a list of the top powerful POP artists today. Make a list of the most influential musicians of all time. The music industry of today has become obsolete in my eyes. It does not matter how many teenagers love your music or how many records you sell. It matters only how you affect those who listen to your music in a positive way. Getting shot 9 times and being the town ho-bag (Madonna) is not positive. Bono?! Give me a break! THESE ARE NOTHING MORE THAN LIP-SYNCING RECORDING ARTISTS!!!! Which of them writes their own music AND lyrics?! Madonna? Where is Prince on this list? He plays 19 instruments and is a philanthropist. Not to mention sells his brilliant songs to these wannabes.

  11. marinnita

    damn what a selection 4 christ sake we r in 2009 pliz update it n get the hell some names in there

  12. Joe Oscar

    this sucks!
    where is coldplay
    where is kings of leon
    where is duffy
    where is eminem
    and where is the killers

  13. HM

    This list suck. Money and Fame has nothing to do with music. Its more like powerful businessman than powerful musicians.

  14. kris

    i dont even really like him that much but you have to admit right now dave matthews is in the top three for popularity. which gives him sales. and pearl jam just came out with another great cd. this list is very wrong


    Honestly? I think lady gaga should be up there. She has grown miraculously in such a short period of time. and you cant resist to dance to her songs.

  16. Stainboy

    Reads like a list of the worst people in the world. Come the revolution these 12 are the first against the wall.

    Let’s keep this sh*t list going.

  17. sx-rx-rr

    First of all its reads most powerful musicians? how bout artist or performers, i may be wrong but none of them play an instument. if they do im sure its a prop unless they play on the toilet at home while they read the lyrics the record co paid for or ripped off from some poor MUSICIAN. whut mf whut g whut yo this list is has been an 6-13 yr old girl gaga……im gonna puke, late. j.b. overanout

  18. manolo blahnik online store

    I have not checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

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