By Kayte K | on 08/22/16

When it comes to musicians, who resonates with Millennials the most?

Ah, Millennials.

This much-buzzed about generation of 18 to 34-year-olds hasn’t wasted any time in making its mark on the world. Take a look at Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Taylor Swift—each of whom achieved incredible success at early ages and each of whom made the Forbes 2016 Highest-Paid Celebrities list this year.

We know these younger musicians are beloved, or even sometimes reviled. But how do they feel about performers who’ve been around since before these three could pick up a microphone? Does age play a factor when it comes to respect and relevance? In the world of music, is younger—better?

As part of SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity—a comprehensive list that digs into the qualities attributed to celebrity success—we asked Americans to re-rank the top musicians from the Forbes’ Highest-Paid Celebrities list. Slicing the data even further, we took a look at what Generation Me had to say when it comes to some of the top names in music.

No matter what age you are—having business savvy equals experience

In an industry as competitive as the music business, once you’ve gotten to sold-out stadium show levels, how do you stay on top? Well, you’d better have excellent judgment and ample business smarts, on top of talent and discipline.

Millennials would seem to agree. They ranked the inarguably experienced music industry veteran, hip hop trailblazer and 46-year-old, Sean Combs, as having the most business savvy. For a rap star, producer, fashion mogul, entrepreneur and actor, Combs has not only proven his multidimensional talents but also his wide-ranging business acumen.

Not far behind Combs? Fellow Millennial, Taylor Swift clinches the #2 spot with living icon, Sir Paul McCartney, rounding out the top three. Interestingly, respondents of all ages rank McCartney first in business savvy over Combs.

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Paul McCartney’s perception remains undisputed

It’s true. His industry prowess has held steady throughout the music industry’s continually shifting landscape—from vinyl to digital, McCartney’s remained prolific and proven his mass-generational appeal whether on or off the stage.

For example, our data says that everyone, not just Millennials, believes that McCartney will be the most remembered musician 100 years from now. When applying the millennial filter however, Australian rock band AC/DC, just barely edges ahead of McCartney. Who knew?

Millennials across the board also say that McCartney has the highest IQ amongst his peers. Fellow Brit, Adele, comes in second and again, Millennial of the moment, Taylor Swift takes third place.

Now one of the positive attributes assigned to this generation is their strong interest in social good. So naturally, we wanted to see which musician earns the top spot when it comes to who has offered the biggest contribution to society.

Again, McCartney rises to the top followed by fellow Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers, U2, and (surprise, surprise) Swift.

When it comes to respect, age does seem to matter

Depending on the survey respondents’ ages, slight differences in the data rose to the surface. 28-year-old Adele is respected the most by her fellow Millennials followed closely by McCartney. Regardless of age though, Sir Paul takes the cake when it comes to respect.

Not surprisingly, when asked which musician is the most overpaid and least respected, people of all ages have a little trouble thinking highly of the under-30 set and in particular, Justin Bieber.

The Canadian pop star, who’s grown up in the limelight, clinched the top spot in both the Least Respected and Most Overpaid categories. Ouch. It doesn’t get any easier for The Biebs when asking those closer in age to him either—Millennials agree at 47% and 50% respectively.

So take heart, aspiring musicians! Staying power and artistic relevance aren’t only achievable goals, but they can be maintained. Age isn’t something to be afraid of either. Play the market right and listen to your fans—they are your customers after all. And with the right combination of talent, brand and business smarts, you just might find yourselves at the top of our next list.

See how your favorite celebrity fares in SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity, a comprehensive list analyzing the qualities—both positive and negative—that are attributed to celebrity success.

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