Since as far as anyone can remember,the amount of money an act makes holds just as much as interest as the music that brings that money in.
So, in a bid to quench the nosy thirsts of fan boys/girls the worldover, Billboard have released their list of Music’s Top 40 Money Makers.
Focusing only on US income, the list takes into account how much each act made in 2011 from publishing, touring and recorded music sales and does not include finances made from sponsorship or endorsement deals.
It is also worth noting that the list accounts for net earnings and not gross revenue, and so to some extent differs from Forbes annual list.
Peep the top ten below…
1 Taylor Swift
After wrapping the final leg of her Fearless tour, Taylor Swift’s blockbuster success two years ago left music industry observers wondering what she could possibly do for an encore.
The pop-country superstar answered them with her smash Speak Now album and accompanying tour, which jetted through Asia and Europe in addition to making its way across North America. Grossing $88.5 million in the U.S. alone, the tour netted Swift a remarkable $29.8 million.
Honored as Billboard’s Woman of the Year in December, she racked up U.S. album sales of 1.8 million units last year-led by booming business for late 2010′s Speak Now, which sold 967,000 units and digital single track sales of 7.8 million. Songwriting royalties were another highly beneficial source of income, given that Swift wrote all 14 Speak Now tunes herself.
U2′s monumental 360° tour finally wrapped in 2011 with a $91.5 million Boxscore for the year, including a return trek through North America originally scheduled for 2010 but postponed due to Bono’s back surgery. Fewer than 10% of the tickets had to be refunded, and those returns were quickly scooped up.
The total Boxscore tally of $736 million stands as an amazing record, and the attendance of 7.3 million concert-goers (another record) led to merchandise sales approaching $50 million, according to Billboard estimates (but not included in calculating the Money Makers tally). Merch sales and fan club revenue were maximized under synergies created through the band’s long-term, multirights deal with Live Nation, and the 360° tour marked an impressive testament to the ability of both sides to deliver. U2 also sold a significant amount of recorded content, including 1.4 million digital tracks, since the tour drew fans’ attention to catalog favorites.
Combining digital and physical units, however, U2 moved the least number of albums among the top 10 Money Makers. Today’s music business is all about the live thing, and U2 stands high on the mountaintop in that regard.
3 Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney rejuvenated himself by taking time off from touring in 2010, and fans responded by turning out in record numbers to see him last year. Promoted nationally by TMG/AEG Live, Chesney captured his sixth top package honor at the 2011 Billboard Touring Awards for his Goin’ Coastal concert swing, his eighth consecutive tour to sell more than 1 million tickets.
As with most leading country live acts, Chesney also sells a healthy amount of recordings while touring: more than 650,000 physical album units (buoyed by hit-laden 2010 album Hemingway’s Whiskey) and 4.3 million-plus digital tracks. Chesney’s fans worship his romantic, hard-drinking lifestyle, so he derives additional revenue streams from various merchandise, a laid-back clothing line, ringtones, DVDs and even a sponsorship deal with the beverage firm that makes Corona. (No surprise, given that Chesney wrote the No. 1 country hit “Beer in Mexico.”)
4 Lady Gaga
Topping the Money Makers list in 2011, the theatrical chanteuse enjoyed a near-repeat of her previous stellar year. Defined by the May launch of yet another full-length opus, Born This Way, the album sold 1.1 million units during its first week, marking the biggest single sales frame for an album release in 2011. Combined with her previous sets The Fame and The Fame Monster, Gaga moved 2.8 million albums last year.
Meanwhile, Born This Way spawned four singles that all reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and helped the singer move 12.7 million digital tracks.
Despite holding off on another traditional tour when her 19-month Monster Ball trek wrapped last May, Gaga’s Boxscore revenue equaled $51.4 million in 2011, after reaping $70.4 million the year before. Expect Born This Way to keep delivering in 2012, with the Born This Way Ball ready to roll overseas in April.
5 Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s first full year back in the market after serving eight months for attempted gun possession in New York proved a lucrative stretch. For the week ending Sept. 6, ninth studio set Tha Carter IV debuted atop the Billboard 200, racking up the year’s second-biggest sales week with 964,000 units sold. The tally also gave Wayne the best sales week by a male artist since his own Carter III topped the charts with 1 million units in June 2008 and accounted for nearly a third of his total 2.7 million sales for that year.
(Only Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, offered at a special 99 cent price for two days at AmazonMP3 during its first week, had a better debut than IV in 2011.) Wayne also moved 12.3 million digital tracks, driven by Hot 100 top 10s like “6 Foot, 7 Foot” and “She Will,” and continued to prove himself on the road. His I Am Still Music tour grossed $44.7 million from 67 shows and 695,291 tickets sold.
Then there’s the fortune he earned as founder of Young Money Entertainment, label home of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Tyga and others, but that’s a different list.
Just as fans clamored for a return to the recording studio in 2010-causing her Soldier of Love to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 502,000 units sold-followers of the sultry singer and her smooth jazz band also lined up last year for Sade’s first North American tour since 2001.
The 59-date, Live Nation-produced arena trek claimed 10th place on Billboard’s Top 25 Tours listing. With John Legend opening all U.S. dates, the tour ultimately posted $45.7 million in revenue that resulted in a cool $15.4 million take for the group.
Longtime collaborator Sophie Muller served as creative director and Baz Halpin (Pink!, Tina Turner) handled production and lighting design for the critically acclaimed live shows, which featured a massive LED screen showing videos and dazzling images behind the band.
While an official release date hasn’t yet been announced, Muller stayed busy last year editing a film version of the tour that may appear on cable and DVD soon.
7 Bon Jovi
Guided by the business acumen and savvy musical instincts of charismatic frontman Jon Bon Jovi, the New Jersey rock phenom has been a brand and a band on fire for much of the past decade. The Circle tour, marking the most ambitious trek in the band’s 30-year history, wrapped last summer with a final tally of $265 million, the sixth-largest-grossing tour of all time.
Aside from its prized catalog of hits, the band releases chart-topping new material as well: During the most recent round of live gigs, Bon Jovi put out its first greatest-hits package and new studio album The Circle, each cross-marketed on the AEG Live-produced tour directed by BJM’s Paul Korzilius. Bon Jovi moved more than 320,000 physical CDs last year, 1.6 million digital tracks and two new DVD titles in addition to tons of branded merch, maximizing its highly familiar image and sound decades after its humble beginnings.
8 Celine Dion
Celine Dion sure knows how to make a comeback. After her historic five-year residency at Las Vegas’ Colosseum at Caesars Palace ended in late 2007, the Canadian singer took a well-deserved break, then returned to the 4,000-seat venue in March 2011 for yet another stand. She grossed $40.1 million from 57 performances last year that drew nearly a quarter-million fans and booked additional Vegas dates through this August. Though Dion’s last studio album was 2007′s Taking Chances, she sold 331,000 albums in 2011, the biggest catalog item being 1997′s Let’s Talk About Love (75,000 copies). The singer also sold 956,000 digital tracks last year, with the top seller still being “My Heart Will Go On,” from 1997′s blockbuster film “Titanic” (167,000 downloads).
9 Jason Aldean
Contrary to the third-time-lucky rule, it was Jason Aldean’s fourth album for Broken Bow Records, My Kinda Party, that turned him into a legitimate country superstar. Released in November 2010, Party sold 1.6 million units and 5 million tracks last year, moving 2.4 million albums and 6.6 million tracks through mid-February of this year.
“Don’t You Wanna Stay,” a duet with Kelly Clarkson, peaked atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in March 2011 and sold 1.5 million tracks last year. “Stay” was quickly followed by the country-rap hybrid “Dirt Road Anthem,” which reached No. 1 in July.
Aldean also matured into one of country’s most successful live acts. The My Kinda Party tour sold out arenas and amphitheaters across the country, grossed $27 million in 2011 and netted Aldean an estimated $9.1 million. His rapid ascent to the concert industry’s upper echelon helped him win the Breakthrough honor at the 2011 Billboard Touring Awards.
Even an extreme medical emergency couldn’t interfere with Adele’s success in 2011. From the moment sophomore album 21 stormed in atop the Billboard 200 in March 2011, the singer/songwriter has been setting-and demolishing-a seemingly endless array of retail and radio feats.
Before her latest achievement-spending 23 weeks atop the chart to notch the longest-running No. 1 album in Nielsen SoundScan’s history-Adele racked up numerous other milestones. Her single “Rolling in the Deep” became the most widely crossed-over song of the past 25 years, topping rock, pop, AC, R&B/hip-hop, dance and Latin charts. In addition, she became one of only four female artists to spend at least 13 weeks at the peak of the Billboard 200, joining Judy Garland, Carole King and Whitney Houston. Adele then capped the year by winning six Grammy Awards, including album of the year. Although throat surgery sidelined her touring schedule last October, her album sales continued to soar to the tune of 6.7 million in 2011.
Though Rihanna’s sixth studio album, Talk That Talk, lagged in its first week compared with previous release Loud, which bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 207,000 units sold in December 2010 (Talk That Talk came in at No. 3 on the Nov. 30, 2011, chart with 197,000), together the two projects gave Rihanna a strong 2011.
Thanks to a slate of hits-including Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s “What’s My Name?,” “S&M” and “We Found Love”-she sold 14 million digital tracks and 1.5 million albums.
On the road, Rihanna’s exposure to the domestic market was limited: Of the shows reported to Boxscore (11), she grossed $7.1 million and sold 111,704 tickets.
14. Katy Perry
In 2011, Katy Perry tied Michael Jackson’s record by scoring five No. 1 singles from one album, 2010′s Teenage Dream, with such songs as “E.T.” and “Firework.” Not surprisingly, the radio ruler’s digital track sales soared above her fellow pop phenoms: With 15.2 million units moved, Perry bested Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Rihanna in the category.
Meanwhile, the singer’s California Dreams world tour kept Perry on the road for most of 2011, grossing $19.5 million domestically and netting her $6.6 million.
Perry also raised her visibility at the multiplex (with a voice spot in “The Smurfs”), on the small screen (with appearances on “How I Met Your Mother” and “American Idol”) and at awards ceremonies (with a performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards and a video of the year win at MTV’s Video Music Awards).
Perry has already started off strong in 2012: “Part of Me,” the lead single to her Teenage Dream reissue (due March 27), became the 20th song to debut atop the Hot 100 in the chart’s history.