ListsMusic Industry

The Biggest Recording Contracts Ever

Adele was just signed to a new recording deal worth slightly north of $170,000,000 CAD, the largest contract ever given to a British artist. Given her drawing/selling power, though, she might be underpaid.

Even with that eye-watering number, this agreement is only the sixth-most-lucrative in the history of music. Here’s a look at the Top 5. (All figures in Canadian dollars.)

1.Michael Jackson’s Sony deal (2010): $312,000,000. This was a complicated one, a deal that tied in the entirety of the Jackson estate.

2.U2 and Polydor (1993): $248,000,000. With the band coming off both The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, manager Paul McGuinness managed to get the band re-upped at a nice premium–which, by the way, works out to about $374,000,000 in today’s dollars.. Oh, and they gained control of their master recordings, too.

3.Lil Wayne stays with Cash Money (2o12): $181,000,000. Not bad for a four-album deal in the post-Napster world.

3.Jay Z’s Roc Nation deal with Live Nation (2008): $181,000,000. Just like Lil Wayne, Jayzer walked away with more money than anyone could ever spend without buying a basketball team.

3.Bruce Springsteen sticks with Columbia (2005): $181,000,000: The label knew that there was still life in Springsteen’s career. They were right.

For more big money deals, the likes of which we may never see again, check out this list at The NME.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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