Are The World’s Richest Drummers Helping to Steal Music? revealed the world’s richest drummers.  But was the agenda behind this simple gossip piece really to promote piracy?

Moses Avalon

The people near the top of the Celebrity Networth’s World’s Richest Drummers list are those you might expect: Ringo Star, Phil Collins, Don Henley, etc. The site claims the reason these bangers have had amazing income is touring the world and performing on chart-busting recordings for many years.

But this is not exactly true.

For example, why would Ringo, who has not played on a new hit in over 20 years, rank higher than Joey Kramer, who had played on more than a few top 40 hits in the last decade.

World’s Richest Drummer

Or Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason ranking lower then Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl.   Dark Side of the Moon has been in the top 100 album sales of all time, year after year, while any Foo Fighters album (and I’m not knocking them in any way) would be lucky to make it into the top 500.

What up?  I’m gonna show you the pattern I noticed in the list and afterward I might just throw in a freetard conspiracy theory for spice.


I asked Celebrity Networth’s managing editor, Brian Warner  if he segregated the passive verses active revenue streams. “Yes,” he confirmed they took into account, “record sales, merchandise, royalties, licensing, touring etc.”  His effort, while admirable, seemed to make a rookie mistake those outside the music space often do when analyzing us; he didn’t parse music publishing, which is not the same as a royalties from record sales/downloads.

The drummers that rank near the top of the list are ones that share significantly in their signature group’s publishing revenue. In fact, of the top five, two of them wrote their group’s hits. And while it’s true that Ringo–in 1st position–didn’t technically write any of the Beatles’s top 10, Lennon and McCartney still opted to share a percentage of  songwriting revenue with their musical partner. Such was the case with some on the list.  Others were not as fortunate.

If you apply publishing as a factor, rather than touring or recordings, the list’s hierarchy starts to make sense.  Drummers who got publishing– got top cash. Drummers who relied solely on performing– made less.  Which is, in a subtle way, is the opposite conclusion reached.


Well, one obvious reason is that for most who read this gossip, music publishing is insider minutia.  Fair enough. But then why report a gaffed reason for the list’s hierarchy?

A “tell” of a bias is revealed in their conclusion:

“Most have had 30+ year careers banging away at the top of the charts and touring the world’s stadiums to perform for tens of thousands of adoring fans.”

Hummm.  That is starting to sound familiar.  Yes, I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere before. Who in the internet world constantly professes that touring is the way to make money with music and to forget about unit sales?  Yes… it’s those who also believe that “information wants to be free” and by information they mean popular content.  The freetards.

Think that is true?  Think these guys touched $100 Million + status by performing, more so than from copyright participation?   Except for medium sized venues with his All-Star Band, Ringo has not done a stadium tour since Noah built an ark. Where’s his $300 Million coming from?  Barbara Bach’s cleavage.


So, does fit the freetard profile?  Let’s see.

I asked Warner how the site turns a profit. He wrote back “Trade secrets, my friend…”  When I pressed for a less snarky answer I could use for a quote he confessed… “Advertising is our sole source of revenue.”

This is also true of many questionalbe P2P sites, like Megaupload and Pirate Bay.

Mr. Warner, according to his LinkedIn profile offers no credentials in journalism. Rather he spent several years managing  Break Media, a viral marketing firm.  He is schooled in how to attract Google’s spiders, more so than plying standards of reporting and research.  (And in fact, the site’s Alexi ranking is an impressive 7500, so clearly he is very competent.)

But, fact checking is one of the biggest expenses in publishing and why organizations like the New York Times can not compete with gonzo blogs.  Yet, of their four editors, three are described on the site as  having a technology background. None have worked in journalism.

Finally, their domain owner is listed as “private” and they have no visible snail mail address to serve a complaint in the (unlikely?) event of slander.

All are symptoms of a business model with a priority towards web-traffic over accuracy, respect for intellectual property or privacy.  The freetard trifecta.


While I’m sure some of the boys at Celebrity Networth have used the “music should be free” line to pick up a chick or two, all-in-all, bolstering an urban legend to attract Google juice may be sophomoric journalism, it is a bit shy of the standard to cast them into my freetard lion’s den.

So they get a pass. For now

Last year I predicted which sites that would be investigated (and in some cases shut down) by the Fed for copyright facilitation. In many cases, I was right.

My guess is that since web-traffic is the name of their game some advertisers are bound to eventually be those that will not make the RIAA or Homeland Security happy.  We’ll see.

Mo Out

The real “World’s Richest Drummer”: The Muppet Franchise. Worth as much as a some small nations.

20 responses to “Are The World’s Richest Drummers Helping to Steal Music?”

  1. Matthias says:

    Check this out Buddy Rich vs Animal
    One ahm two of the best drummers and one of the best utube vids ever
    I love it:

    Btw: good investigations Mo, .

  2. Rio says:

    And eventually, after searching and browsing everywhere on the Internet, now I can finally say that this is one article that makes perfect sense.
    Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  3. Zingo says:

    Megaupload was a “storage locker” site that followed the ‘freemium’ business model. Sure it made money from ads, but their credit-card revenue stream was likely as significant, if not more.

  4. Rob Falk says:

    Mo –

    I understand your point, and – without agreeing with your reasoning regarding the motivation for the story by Warner/CelebrityNewWorth – do agree that publishing is what makes the difference.

    When I advise bands, I always advise some publishing sharing among all members of the band, whether all are writers or not. I tell them that without sharing publishing, “there’ll come a day when the writers own the tour bus, but the rest of the band won’t even have bus fare, and that’ll be the day your music dies.”

    Also, what’s with the headline? I don’t see how being a wealthy drummer is “helping to steal music.”


  5. Tisk tisk tisk Moses! =3 Shame on you! (in a fun way! =D)

    “World’s Richest Drummers Help To Steal Music?”
    After reading your book “Confessions…” — twice… honestly!
    You sound almost as if you’re contradicting the lessons I learned!
    [I mean from YOU! XD]

    What person is threatening you or what “behind the scenes organization” is goading you to head such propaganda? =3

    The typical drummer likely won’t see more than $25K a year in a 5 piece band after record company costs and cuts and a 360 deal is also cross-collateralized over the next… FIFTEEN albums or so.

    Not really following this ‘un but it was an interesting read.
    The main thing is I notice that there is an urgent sudden poke of fun to the very people who were once promoted
    (Megaupload? Pirate Bay? o.o)

    You used to celebrate artists taking music into their own hands.

    My real question here is why it seems in “Confessions” you were so against people thinking, “If we could run an industry without artists it would be a great industry’ and now all of a sudden you seem mega angry with so-called “freetards” when in the book you talk about the sleaze who inspired this very movement of artists! (bad record deals, thieves in the copyright office and the likes! Your book coupled with Don’s [not Henley ^^;) seriously SCARED me out of ever even considering most deals — even management ones.)

    I personally am neither for or against the whole of this article,
    but what I will say Phil Collins is also a vocalist!
    Ringo Star I THINK I know who he is but honestly I don’t know Don.

    But what I think is really interesting here is these are
    more than just drummers. It’s the live performance that “sells.”

    You can buy 10,000 Drum Loops for less than $100 today on places like “Loopmasters” and the only person credited is the Producer.
    The drummers are paid $5 or whatever to have their drumming heard
    but “Rich Drummers?” …There are few and far between —
    this is like saying “Covering the world’s richest Presidents.”
    It’s like… the money has nothing to do with the status…

    There is enough free music online (whether people like it or not – indifferent either way *shrugs* both can work ) for people not ever to have reason to purchase another album again. Yet…
    People pay for the experience (meeting the artists / having a physical item or the likes) — *sighs*

    This isn’t a bad article in fact it’s rather good. =)
    It’s intriguing to see where people’s focus is…
    I think less people pay attention to the passion that goes into the music and more on the money that it can bring — and for that very reason — become “has-been” artists or known only as
    “The Richest iPad Salesman!”

    Money itself is not what mandates music.
    The MUSIC INDUSTRY is important I’ll agree.
    But I doubt journalists or bloggers or whatever…
    as passionate about the notes the drummers are actually drumming
    as they simply are jealous they don’t have what the passion got.

    Money is important in our world today. (Why I still go to work! Right now that’s putting in hours in school sitting for a Student check when I could instead be making music or making art!)

    However, when “money” becomes “music” I think the notes are obscured and the reason for the music made becomes forgotten…

    Your friend, (even in debate! =3)
    -Tiger M. Gales aka WAM! DJ, TIGER M! ^_~*

    • Moses Avalon says:

      Yeah… I think you may need to read my book a third time b/c you missed its central message, that is that I would like to see artists get paid for their work and not ripped off.

      Freetards don’t believe that recorded music is worth paying for. Therefore their interests are not aligned with commercial musical artists.

      I have never said to avoid label deals. Just bad labels deals.

      I don’t say “f-ck the labels.”

      I say, “F-uck the labels… But use protection.

  6. Understood and accepted. ^_^

    My view on so-called “Freetards” though is this:
    Few artists making a rock album in their mom’s basement
    and serving a table or window over summer — are going to have $100,000 to print up and share 50,000 CDs.

    If the person is in a small city — even if the money was had it would not be half as effective as simply saying, “Scrap the costs and save it for touring. Upload the album for free so we can get money at shows since people don’t already know our music.”

    Since I side with neither (those wanting to get money for music or for those who only release music with no commercial intent) I see the pros of both views.
    [And btw, I’m re-reading through Don’s book again and next up I’ll likely pick up your book “Million Dollar Mistakes” which just yet I haven’t read. =3 It should be good! Think that opening we talked about may apply to something that’s going on in my personal life right now
    Thanks for suggesting Mo’! =3 Also thanks for writing great teacher! ^_^]

    On the subject…

    I mean… how many people did you know Moses growing up who spent $10,000 on equipment over 8 years … and still work at Best Buy talking about “saving their album” for when “Record Company SUPER POP” gives them a call back because they pitched their demo 4 years back.

    Your friend, (even in debate! =3)
    -Tiger M. Gales aka WAM! DJ, TIGER M! ^_~*

    This Is TIGER M! =)

  7. Ted Myers says:

    Hi Mo,

    It seems to me the big mistake here is lumping songwriters in with non-songwriting players. Ringo seems to be an anomaly, but being a royalty sharing artist on the millions and millions of Beatles albums sold might be enough without being a songwriter. But Don Henley, Phil Collins, Dave Grohl? Of course they’re rich — they get writer and publisher checks from sales on giant hit records. They also happen to be drummers, but that’s like categorizing Joni Mitchell among the world’s richest painters.

    –Ted out

  8. Liz Friedman says:

    Thanks Mo! As always a good read to make you think about all sides and how material is presented … or can be presented … or not! Thanks again!!

  9. Jason Miles says:

    About Drummers-It’s simple and it goes through a few levels.If you are a good drummer you need to find another profession. Good drummers don’t make it. great Drummers make it!. The only one in the band who can’t hide behind anything.If Yiu are a great drummer there is always a spot for you. Is it easy? No-butyiu have a shot because the way of the band is the way of the drummer. I have drummer friends who haven’t stopped working in 30 years. So this article doesn’t surprise me or phase me

  10. Osiris Munir says:

    You really put yo foot up in this one, Mo. What up?, is key word for the Century. Drummers, guitarists, session musicians period all earn their worth from publishing, and the big boys have been into publishing for years. Errr body else is just now catching on. Master, genius, Ray Charles was one of the first artists that insisted on owning his own masters. Blood man was smart, to do so, and to this day, even the now generation can still HEAR, Mr. C bangin away, on some mix rap, hip-hop tape, makin oodles of green cheese. The pudding is in publishing. Publishing last forever, musicians pass away. Their words and music are the essence of who they are and live forever, as long as there is art and culture. As long as there is a society of which that culture is able to flourish.

  11. Neel says:

    I was right on board with your theory here as I read along. If nothing else for those reading this it is always good to put another reminder in on the importance of publishing.

    The title did trip me a little. But I actually read it as “Are The World’s Richest Drummers Being Used By Others To Help Steal Music”.

    How can someone read Confessions and not get the message right? Wish I had read it BEFORE I had that first deal in front of me. I may have made a buck. But that was too long ago so at least it can be read now by the youngsters.

  12. A drummer from somewhere out there says:

    For every “Great Drummer” that “makes it”, there are hundreds of thousands of “Great Drummers” in the that haven’t made it and never will.

    No one cares how good you play, it’s all simply the luck of having good friends and associates in high places.

    Don’t think so? Watch all the famous bands that are out there as their drummers plop along like they know how lucky they are, and yet don’t seem to give a f*##.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.