The Suffolk singer-songwriter, 31, places 10th on the annual list of UK and Irish artists with an estimated total wealth of £260 million.
Sir Paul McCartney, 79, claims number one in the rankings with a fortune of £865 million, which he shares with his American wife Nancy Shevell, but the list’s compiler believes Sheeran may beat him to £1 billion if he continues his current trajectory.
Composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, 74, has seen his wealth drop by £30 million to £495 million amid the impact of Covid-19 on the theatre world, but is still at number three.
He recently announced the closure of his new West End musical, Cinderella, after it was repeatedly delayed due to the pandemic.
As he releases his third solo album, former One Direction star Harry Styles, 28, adds £25 million to his fortune, making him the wealthiest musician under the age of 30 with £100 million.
The last few years have seen the singer embark on a North American tour and release his second album Fine Line to positive reviews.
After boosting her fortune by £24 million to a total of £60 million, singer Dua Lipa rises to second place on the young musician list, drawing equal with girl group Little Mix.
Sting, former frontman of The Police, has boosted his personal fortune by £100 million to some £320 million after selling his music rights to Universal Music earlier this year.
He was the latest high-profile artist to sell the rights to their back catalogue.
In December 2020, Universal acquired Bob Dylan’s entire song collection for a reported 300 million US dollars.
Dublin stadium rockers U2 are the top Irish entry in the list, jointly worth £625 million, while former One Direction member Niall Horan, 28, is the country’s wealthiest young musician, worth £52 million.
Robert Watts, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Selling their music rights has proved extremely lucrative for many of the older acts on the Music Rich List – especially those who had quiet pandemics.
“We expect the post-Covid return to touring will see many of these singers and bands earn well this year and next. It seems old musicians never retire, they just get richer.
“Another golden year for Ed Sheeran leads us to believe he may in time pip Paul McCartney to become the first British billionaire musician.”
– The Sunday Times Music Rich List
1. Sir Paul McCartney – £865 million2. U2 – £625 million3. Lord Lloyd-Webber – £495 million4. Sir Elton John – £395 million5. Sting – £320 million6. Sir Mick Jagger – £318 million7. Keith Richards – £303 million8. Olivia and Dhani Harrison – £295 million9. Sir Ringo Starr – £285 million10. Ed Sheeran – £260 million
– The Young Music Rich List (30 years old or under)
1. Harry Styles – £100 million2. Dua Lipa – £60 million (joint)2. Little Mix – £60 million (joint)4. Niall Horan – £52 million5. Louis Tomlinson – £48 million6. Liam Payne – £44 million7. Zayn Malik – £36 million8. Sam Smith – £34 million9. Stormzy – £26 million10. Lewis Capaldi – £19 million