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Top 10 Money Makers in the Music Business

While album sales certainly aren’t what they used to be, there is still plenty of money to be made in the music business.Money makers, earners, music business, who makes the most, musicians, artists

Earnings for top musicians in the game come from a variety of sources: live performances, endorsements, merchandise, digital sales and other revenue streams.

Billboard put together a list of the musicians who earned the most money in 2013, and it’s a familiar (though varied) list. One thing you’ll notice: the bulk of the money they make comes from doing shows—the big-time, high-production events that draw thousands, generate buzz and further the artist’s profile in the business.

Below, we’ve got the list of the top 10, along with some information and background research on each. (You can find Nos. 11-20 on the Billboard website. Scroll to the bottom for the methodology.)

1. Taylor Swift: $39.7 million

The pop-country songstress came in at No. 1 on the Billboard list, with her substantial total buoyed by digital downloads and touring.

The young singer also has several endorsement deals and a massive social media following (43.7 million Twitter followers as of this writing), and her crossover appeal probably contributes to her stellar ranking.

Swift’s official website does a nice job of marketing her music and products, but it’s her touring that really rakes in the cash: $30 million during a six-month U.S. tour, according to Billboard.

2. Kenny Chesney: $32.9 million

Coming in at No. 2 is another country musician, Kenny Chesney, who has sold more than 30 million albums and notched more than 30 top 10 country singles, according to

His 2013 tour was his 10th straight concert series to top 1 million ticket buyers, leading Billboard to dub Chesney “country’s stadium king.”

His stay toward the top of this list may not last, however, as he has no tour dates currently scheduled.

3. Justin Timberlake: $31.4 million

The first pop star to pop up on the list, Justin Timberlake has gone from boy band leader to music mogul, restaurateur and movie star.

Having returned from a hiatus in 2013, Timberlake generated more than $5 million in royalties from digital sales, Billboard reports, and performed 39 times that year.

His popularity is evident by his television and film appearances, and he has a big tour coming up, kicking things off in Australia and New Zealand.

4. Bon Jovi: $29.4 million

With that kind of coin generated in just one year, it makes sense Bon Jovi (above) has been linked to the purchase of the Buffalo Bills.

On the concert circuit, Bon Jovi has been a steady earner, coming in at the top spot for 2013 in terms of revenue from performances, with 90 shows, 90 sellouts and more than 2.1 million people coming to his shows, Billboard notes.

His net worth is estimated at $82 million, according to Forbes.

5. The Rolling Stones: $26.2 millionMoney makers, earners, music business, who makes the most, musicians, artists

If age has taken its toll on this iconic rock group, it’s not showing up in their pocketbooks.

The Rolling Stones continue to be a force when it comes to concerts, selling out every show in 2013.

But Billboard notes that the Stones added a few tracks to the band’s latest greatest-hits album, which sold almost 300,000 hard copies to go along with 1.5 million song downloads.

Mick, Keith and the boys show no signs of slowing down, either. The Stones have several concerts on tap for this fall.

6. Beyoncé: $24.4 million

Arguably the biggest female pop star today, Beyoncé comes in at No. 6 behind the strength of her impressive stage shows, media persona and electronic music sales.

She is a record-breaker when it comes to digital downloads. MTV detailed the iTunes stats for her 2013 self-titled album, which hit 617,213 downloads, tops for a week’s worth of sales for the U.S. iTunes store at the time.

Still, her tour accounted for a big chunk of her total at nearly $20 million, according to Billboard.

7. Maroon 5: $22.2 million

Behind lead singer Adam Levine, whose presence on “The Voice” bolsters the band’s popularity, Maroon 5 had a strong 2013 for song sales, with hits like “Payphone,” “One More Night” and “Daylight.”

But, like the others on this list, it was revenue from tours that raked in the dollars—about $17.6 million, Billboard reports.

If you want to see what the group’s shows are like, they’re coming to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in the spring of 2015.

8. Luke Bryan: $22.1 million

Country music is well represented in the top 10, with Luke Bryan landing at eighth.

Bryan, who Billboard called the “fastest-rising country star since Taylor Swift,” does well in terms of album sales (2.7 million) and digital downloads (7.6 million tracks).

He hosted the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards with Blake Shelton and scored Entertainer of the Year honors. Bryan is also a hard-working live performer, whose show in St. Paul in spring was lauded by the Star Tribune for its production values (and the country star’s own dance moves).

9. P!nk: $20 millionMoney makers, earners, music business, who makes the most, musicians, artists

The punk-pop singer notched a record 19 consecutive sellouts during shows in Australia, according to Billboard, helping her reach more than $15 million in concert earnings.

P!nk is known for doing complicated stunts during her performances, including bungee-cord jumping during a show at the Target Center earlier this year.

Her digital sales aren’t too shabby either—most notably the No. 1 hit “Just Give Me a Reason.”

10. Fleetwood Mac: $19.1 million

Another old-school band, Fleetwood Mac, rounds out the top 10.

The classic rock group hit 34 cities during its 2013 tour and raked in $17.4 million for the performances, according to Billboard.

Fleetwood Mac released a new studio album, “Extended Play,” its first in a decade, in 2013, as well.


The methodology for the list, from Billboard:

The data used to compile Money Makers was supplied by Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BDS and Billboard Boxscore. Artists are ranked by U.S. earnings, calculated from touring, recorded- music sales, publishing royalties and revenue from digital music and video streaming. Due to a lack of data, revenue from sponsor- ship, merchandising and synchronization isn’t included. For album and track sales, Billboard assumed a royalty rate of 20 percent of retail, minus producers’ fees. Billboard treated all streaming revenue as derived from licensing deals and split that to calculate the artist’s take. Billboard applied statutory mechanical rates for album and track sales and Copyright Royalty Board-determined rates or -approved formulas for streaming. For labels’ direct deals with interactive services, Billboard used a blended rate of $0.00525 for audio and $0.005 for video streams. Billboard subtracted a manager’s fee of 10 percent. For box office, each artist was credited with 34 percent of the gross, typically what’s left after the promoter and manager’s cuts and other costs are subtracted.



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