Any way you look at it, music is big business. It’s also a very diverse industry, ranging from live performances, digital downloads and album sales to merchandising and licensing. The money can be huge, and for artists who are responsible for the industry’s core product—the music itself—a good year can mean huge profits.
Billboard has compiled a list of 2008’s highest earning musicians, ranking them by how much income they’ve taken home from touring, album sales, digital tracks and ring tones. Merchandise, licensing and other revenues are not included in the final numbers, so these numbers stick strictly to the music. Billboard found that concert tours generated the most revenue for artists as recorded music sales continued to decline.
So, who are the biggest money makers in music? Click ahead to find out!
By Paul Toscano
Posted 17 Feb 2009
The Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana franchise spans far beyond the music, with international book deals, appearances in major motion pictures, a line of branded products and a television program on the Disney Channel. The music itself is a crucial but small component to the revenue stream. Miley Cyrus performed in 57 sold-out venues in 2008, including the “Best of Both Worlds Tour,” which was also spun off into a Disney 3-D movie.
The Canadian-born singer achieved his first success in the US in 2007, when his album “Call Me Irresponsible” climbed to No. 1. Since then, Bublé has found continued success in North America, selling out 67 of his 85 shows in 2008.
In October 2008, AC/DC released their much anticipated album “Black Ice,” their first studio-recorded release in eight years. With a deal to sell the album exclusively in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, much fanfare was made of the release and it hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on Nov. 8. The “Black Ice” tour commenced on Oct. 28, with 90 shows in North America and Europe through this summer.
With the stellar release of his 2008 album “The Carter III,” Lil’ Wayne sold more than 1 million copies within the first week, and an additional million copies the following month. Three singles from the album reached top 10 status. Lil' Wayne began a two-month concert tour at the end of 2008.
One of the most successful groups of all time, The Eagles continued their success in 2008. Selling out 27 of their 34 shows, The Eagles racked up over $56 million in concert revenues, according to Billboard. The album “Long Road Out of Eden” also finds itself at No. 4 on Billboard’s 2008 year end list.
Summer 2008 saw the release of Coldplay’s newest album, “Viva la Vida,” which topped the charts in early July and has been listed on the Billboard 200 for 34 weeks. Coldplay also toured in 2008 with 30 locations in the US. The tour continues abroad in 2009.
After being dropped by Columbia Records in 2007, the Jonas Brothers came back with support from Disney-owned Hollywood Records in mid-2007, which launched them into their current popularity with the “Radio Disney” audience. In addition to the music, the Jonas Brothers were featured in several television specials and movies, which subsequently helped launch their 2008 single, “Burnin’ Up.”
With 65 live performances in 2008, Rascal Flatts sold out 58 venues and racked up more than $55 million in revenues. Their “Greatest Hits” album peaked at No. 6 late in 2008, thus far spending 15 weeks on the top 200 list.
According to Billboard, Neil Diamond amassed $81 million in concert revenues, selling out all of his scheduled 61 shows in 2008. Although Diamond didn’t pocket all $81 million, concerts undoubtedly accounted for the lion’s share of Diamond’s year-end totals. Not to be forgotten is Diamond’s 2008 album “Home Before Dark” which hit No. 1 less than three weeks after its release.
Racking up $86 million in 2008 concert revenues, according to Billboard, contemporary country singer Kenny Chesney drew 1,187,000 fans to his 46 shows. His 2008 album “Lucky Old Sun” also reached No. 1 in November, after being released less than two weeks earlier.
After a stint of French language releases, Celine Dion released the English-language “Taking Chances” and announced a tour under the same name. The worldwide tour started in February, 2008 and runs through February, 2009. In 2008, Celine sold out 36 of her 44 performances, piling up just over $91 million.
For more than 20 years, there have been rumors and indications that The Police would reunite, although they never “officially” broke up after their mega-successful 1983-84 Synchronicity tour. The long awaited reunion came in the form of a world tour, to mark their 30th anniversary. Between November 2007 and November 2008, Billboard reports that the 78 Police shows drew almost 1.5 million ticket sales.
“The Boss” performed at a range of venues in 2008, including rallies for Barack Obama, tributes to Tim Russert and 82 concert performances for over 2 million fans. Two single tracks from the 2009 album “Working on a Dream” were released in late 2008, with the album reaching Billboard’s No. 1 spot on Feb. 14.
Releasing their newest album “Lost Highway” in 2007, Bon Jovi sought to attract a new range of fans, partnering with LeAnn Rimes and Big & Rich to create new country-sounding tracks. After the album topped the charts, the band followed up with the Lost Highway tour, running from October 2007 through July 2008, selling out all 99 shows in front of more than 2.15 million fans.
Topping the list of Billboard’s money-making musicians, Madonna had the third highest grossing concert tour, taking in $229,886,000 at the box offices. Her current tour, Sticky & Sweet, is so profitable that she’s decided to extend it into this summer, with a run of 80 shows. The tour is expected to be among the top five highest grossing tours of all time. Surprisingly, Madonna ranked just 14th on the list of best selling digital tracks and had only the 50th best selling album, but sticking with the trend, her concert tours accounted for the major share of her 2008 take-home and pushing her over the top to the No. 1 slot.
>> Replay Slideshow
>> Highest Grossing Concert Tours>> Best Selling Albums of All Time
>> More From Billboard