Bob Marley, Elvis & Bowie would earn the most on social media in 2021, says study

28 November 2021, 10:00

Elvis Presley, Bob Marley and David Bowie
A study has named the 20th century artists who would have made the most online in 2021. Picture: 1. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images 2. Richard E. Aaron/Redferns 3. Jorgen Angel/Redferns/Getty
Radio X

By Radio X

A study has used specialist tools to reveal the estimated earnings for 20th century musicians on Spotify, YouTube and Instagram.

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A new study has revealed which legendary musicians from the 20th century would earn the most from social media and streaming and Bob Marley has taken the top spot.

The reggae legend may have passed away on 11 May 1981, but according to new research, he would have been one of the highest earning artists in 2021.

A study conducted by revealed which legendary musicians would earn the most from modern platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Spotify by running the official accounts of the stars through specialist analysis tools.

It found the Jamaican singer would have made respectable annual earnings of £1,224,891, which would mostly come from music streaming service Spotify. Marley garners 12,438,220 monthly streams on the platform, generating £513,444 each year, with multiple generations listening to the likes of Redemption Song and No Woman No Cry.

Marley’s enduring influence also continues through to social media, with over 6 million fans following his official Instagram account.

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Despite also never living long enough to witness the birth of the internet, Elvis Presley wouldn't be far behind, raking in an estimated £1,176,150 when combining his streams and followers across the modern platforms

Third on the list was Ziggy Stardust icon David Bowie, who it's estimated would earn £1,023,949 today thanks to his enduring music and his popularity on social media.

Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash made it in fourth and fifth place, with estimated annual earnings of £999,173 and £795,500 respectively.

The first female musician to feature on the list is Aretha Franklin, who rounds off the Top 10 as a result of her estimated earnings coming in at £542,690.

Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald also make the Top 20, earning an estimated £317,720 and £284,511 respectively if they were around today.

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See the Top 20 artists from the 20th century who would earn the most on social media today:

  1. Bob Marley - £1,224,891
  2. Elvis Presley - £1,176,150
  3. David Bowie - £1,023,949
  4. Frank Sinatra - £999,173
  5. Johnny Cash - £795,500
  6. Prince - £764,765
  7. Marvin Gaye - £742,659
  8. John Lennon - £645,453
  9. Bob Dylan - £600,303
  10. Aretha Franklin - £542,690
  11. George Harrison - £466,281
  12. Jimi Hendrix - £444,578
  13. Louis Armstrong - £425,120
  14. Sam Cooke - £340,816
  15. Nat King Cole - £319,303
  16. Etta James - £317,720
  17. Dean Martin - £313,396
  18. Chuck Berry - £292,669
  19. Ray Charles - £286,945
  20. Ella Fitzgerald - £284,511

To see the full research, visit:

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