The UK’s Hardest Working Musicians

Hardest Working Musicians UK

The UK boasts many talented musicians, from solo stars like Lewis Capaldi and Adele to iconic groups such as Arctic Monkeys and Take That. But which of the UK’s musicians are working the hardest for the money they earn?

By analysing tour schedules, song streams and estimated earnings, the team at Spin Genie UK have revealed the UK’s hardest-working music stars.

The UK’s Hardest-Working Male Musicians

Hardest-Working Male Musicians UK

The UK has produced a whole host of well-loved male musicians over the years. This includes the likes of 80s icon Rick Astley, vocal powerhouse Rag’n’Bone Man and global megastar Harry Styles. Many of the world’s biggest male DJs also hail from the UK, such as Calvin Harris and Jax Jones, as well as plenty of rappers, including Stormzy and Dave.

1. Ed Sheeran - 9.67/10 overall score

At the top of the list for the males is one of the nation’s favourite singer-songwriters, Ed Sheeran, earning an overall score of 9.67/10. Since appearing on the music scene in 2011, Ed has released seven UK number-one albums and achieved 14 UK no.1 singles. He has also received over 15 awards for his music, including four Grammy Awards and five Brit Awards.

Ed’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Shape of You, released in 2017. It is estimated that this song alone has earned Ed over £12.9 million ($16.2 million or €15.1 million). Throughout his career, Ed has performed almost 1,200 shows in over 50 countries and amassed over 73.6 billion streams across all audio platforms. 

2. Elton John - 9.55/10 overall score

Coming in second is the music legend Elton John, receiving an overall score of 9.55/10. Since the beginning of his career in the late 60s, Elton has released an incredible 31 albums, achieved 162 weeks in the top 10 in the UK singles chart and even had a biopic made about his life and career. He has received a whole host of honours and accolades too, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a knighthood for his services to music and charity, and five Brit Awards.

Elton’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Rocket Man, released in 1972. This song alone is estimated to have earned Elton over £3.4 million ($4.3 million or €4 million). Throughout his career - which has spanned over five decades - Elton has performed a huge 4,180 shows in 80 countries. This includes over 660 shows in the UK and over 3,500 international shows. These figures mean that Elton is the UK male artist with the most shows performed by far.

3. Tom Odell - 8.65/10 overall score

In third place is Tom Odell, earning an overall score of 8.65/10. His career began in 2012, and Tom has since released five studio albums, with his debut album, Long Way Down, reaching number one in the UK. He has won multiple awards, including the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brits for his EP Songs From Another Love in 2013 and Songwriter of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards in 2014.

Tom’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Another Love, which was released in 2013. It is estimated that this song alone has earned Tom over £7.2 million ($9.1 million or €8.4 million). The song is also incredibly popular on TikTok, having been used in over 914,000 videos. Throughout his career, Tom has performed almost 630 shows in 55 countries and generated over 6.2 billion streams across all audio platforms.

The UK’s Hardest-Working Female Musicians

Hardest-Working Female Musicians UK

Many talented female musicians were born in the UK and have gone on to achieve huge success, despite the barriers they may face within the industry. This includes the likes of noughties icons Lily Allen and Natasha Bedingfield, rising stars PinkPantheress and Mimi Webb, and vocal powerhouses Adele and Jessie J. Plenty of female musicians have also maintained a career following stints on UK talent shows, such as Becky Hill, Leona Lewis and Cher Lloyd.

1. Ellie Goulding - 9.47/10 overall score

Taking the top spot for the UK’s hardest-working female musician is Ellie Goulding, earning an overall score of 9.47/10. Her music career began nearly 15 years ago, and since then she has released five studio albums (four of which have reached number one in the UK) and achieved 281 weeks in the UK Top 40 singles chart. She has also won various awards, including two Brit Awards, a Billboard Music Award and a People’s Choice Award.

Ellie’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Love Me Like You Do, released in 2015 for the film Fifty Shades of Grey. This song alone is estimated to have earned Ellie over £5.1 million ($6.4 million or €5.9 million). Throughout her career, Ellie has performed almost 690 shows in 49 countries and amassed over 18.5 billion streams.

2. Dua Lipa - 8.61/10 overall score

In second place is the pop princess Dua Lipa, receiving an overall score of 8.61/10. Since appearing on the music scene in 2013, she has released two studio albums, Dua Lipa and Future Nostalgia, the latter of which went to number one in the UK. She has also spent a huge 378 weeks in the UK Top 40 singles chart, received multiple awards (including five Brit Awards) and achieved two Guinness World Records. 

Dua’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Don’t Start Now, released in 2020. It is estimated that this song alone has earned Dua over £8.5 million ($10.6 million or €9.9 million). Throughout her career, Dua has performed over 540 shows in 50 countries and generated almost 44 billion streams across all audio platforms.

3. MARINA - 8.33/10 overall score

Coming in third is MARINA (previously known as Marina and the Diamonds), earning an overall score of 8.33/10. Since she first rose to fame in 2009, MARINA has released five studio albums and become known for her fun and quirky music style, garnering hits such as Primadonna, How to Be a Heartbreaker and Hollywood. She has been nominated for 15 awards, winning three of these, such as Best Newcomer at the Virgin Media Music Awards in 2010.

MARINA’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Bubblegum B***h, released in 2012. This song alone is estimated to have earned MARINA over £1.7 million ($2.1 million or €2 million). Throughout her career, MARINA has performed 575 shows in 31 countries. Of these, 201 have been in the UK, and 374 have been international shows.

The UK’s Hardest-Working Group Musicians

Hardest-Working Group Musicians UK

Many of the world’s most popular musical groups were born in the UK, with many having careers that are multiple decades long. The UK is well-known for its iconic rock and indie groups, including the likes of The 1975, Kasabian, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Stereophonics. There are also a whole host of DJ duos and groups that were created in the UK, such as Rudimental, Disclosure and Chase and Status. Although UK music groups are currently predominantly male, multiple female-led groups are breaking onto the scene, including Wet Leg and Flo. This is despite the barriers that female music artists often face within the industry.

1. Muse - 9.02/10 overall score

Taking the top spot for the groups is Muse, earning an overall score of 9.02/10. Their first EP was released in 1998, and they have since released nine studio albums, seven of which have reached number one in the UK. Many of the group's songs have been featured in films, including multiple Twilight Saga films, Pitch Perfect 2, and Hellboy.

Muse’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Uprising, released in 2009. It is estimated that this song alone has earned them almost £2 million ($2.5 million or €2.3 million). Throughout their career, Muse have performed over 1,660 shows in 52 countries and amassed almost 10.6 billion streams across all audio platforms. 

2. Coldplay - 8.57/10 overall score

In second place is the ever-popular Coldplay. Their debut album, Parachutes, was released in 2000 and became number one in the UK. The album also won two awards: a Brit Award for British Album of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. Since then, they have released a further eight studio albums (all of which have also gone to number one in the UK) and spent 302 weeks in the UK Top 40 singles chart, which is almost six years!

Coldplay’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Yellow, released in 2000 as their debut single. This song alone is estimated to have earned them almost £6.9 million ($8.7 million or €8 million). Throughout their career, Coldplay have performed over 1,300 shows in 43 countries and generated almost 44.7 billion streams across all audio platforms.

3. Franz Ferdinand - 8.53/10 overall score

Coming in third is one of the biggest groups of the noughties, Franz Ferdinand, earning an overall score of 8.53/10. Since the beginning of their career, they have released five studio albums, achieved three top 10 singles in the UK chart and won multiple awards. This includes two Brit Awards, one Ivor Novello Award and one Mercury Prize.

Franz Ferdinand’s most-streamed solo song on Spotify is Take Me Out, which was released in 2004 and has since become their signature song. It is estimated that this song alone has earned them almost £2.7 million ($3.6 million or €3.1 million). Throughout their career, Franz Ferdinand have performed almost 1,300 shows in 56 countries. This includes 290 shows in the UK and over 990 international shows.

The Highest-Grossing Tours from UK Musicians

Highest-Grossing Tours UK Musicians

1. Elton John - Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour

  • Gross - £748 million / $939.1 million / €872.2 million
  • Number of years - 2018 to 2023
  • Number of shows - 330

Taking the top spot this time is Elton John with his final tour before retirement, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour. The tour began in Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S., on 8 September 2018 and ended in Stockholm, Sweden, on 8 July 2023. The set list featured some of Elton’s biggest hits, including Bennie and the Jets, Tiny Dancer, and I’m Still Standing. 

There were nine legs and 330 shows in the tour, with multiple of these having been pushed back due to both the Covid-19 pandemic and Elton’s hip injury. It is estimated that the tour generated over £748 million ($939.1 million or €872.2 million), making it the second highest-grossing tour of all time, behind Taylor Swift’s current Eras Tour.

2. Ed Sheeran - ➗ Tour

  • Gross - £618.3 million / $776.2 million / €720.9 million
  • Number of years - 2017 to 2019
  • Number of shows - 255

In second place is Ed Sheeran with his ÷ Tour, which began on 16 March 2017 in Turin, Italy and ended on 26 August 2019 in Ipswich, England. Over 8.9 million people attended the shows, which featured various support acts, such as Anne-Marie, James Blunt and Zara Larsson. The set list featured some of the biggest hits from Ed’s ÷ album, including Castle on the Hill, Galway Girl and Perfect. 

There were fourteen legs in the tour, and Ed broke multiple tour records for attendance, ticket sales and money generated. It is estimated that the tour brought over £618.3 million ($776.2 million or €720.9 million), making it the third highest-grossing tour of all time.

3. Coldplay - Music of the Spheres World Tour

  • Gross - £531.9 million / $667.7 million / €620.1 million
  • Number of years - 2022, still ongoing
  • Number of shows - 114

Coming in third is Coldplay with their Music of the Spheres World Tour. The tour began in San José, Costa Rica, on 18 March 2022 and will conclude in Auckland, New Zealand, on 16 November 2024. The show is split into four acts: Planets, Moons, Stars and Home. The set list features some of Coldplay’s biggest hits, such as Paradise, Viva La Vida and A Sky Full of Stars.

There has been a heavy focus on environmentally friendly practices during the tour, including pyrotechnic and confetti adaptations to mitigate carbon footprint and the development of the first-ever mobile rechargeable show battery. It is estimated that the tour has generated over £531.9 million ($667.7 million or €620.1 million) already, currently making it the fifth highest-grossing tour of all time behind U2’s 360° Tour.

Methodology

We began by creating a seed list of musicians from the UK before splitting these into male, female and group categories. Each artists sex was determined by researching what their chosen pronouns are. All of the chosen artists are currently living. Any groups who are currently disbanded were eliminated from the seed list. Band members who have gone on to pursue solo projects were included in either the male or female category.

We then used Setlist.fm to gather the number of shows each solo artist or group have done to date and how many countries they have performed in. The number of countries was then split to find how many performances had been done in the UK and how many had been done internationally. All data is correct as of 6 December 2023.

Next, we used Spotify to find each solo artist’s or group’s most-streamed solo single on the platform. This only included songs where the artist or group is the solo leader and excluded those where they are a featured artist or share the song with another artist. All data is correct as of 7 December 2023.

We then took the number of streams for each artist’s or group’s most-streamed song on Spotify and used this figure to estimate the amount of money they have currently earned from that one song. We did this by using dittomusic.com’s ‘Spotify Royalty Calculator’. All data and currency conversions are correct as of 8 December 2023.

Finally, we gave each artist a normalised score out of ten for each factor and then took an average across all factors to form our overall score. 

As an additional section, we used Wikipedia’s ‘List of Highest-Grossing Concert Tours’ to discover which UK artists and groups had generated the most money from tours. To create our ranking, we eliminated all non-UK artists from the list. This section wasn’t included in the overall score.

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