Madonna The World's Highest-Paid Musician (+Full List)

The World's 25 Highest-Paid Musicians

Madonna is living up to her nickname: the Material Girl tops our annual list of the top-earning musicians by a wide margin. How much did she make, and who was her closest competition?

 

 Lady Gaga and Madonna have a superstar rivalry made in gossip-blog heaven. The former burst onto the scene five years ago with a provocative pop sensibility reminiscent of the latter’s. Last year, Madonna accused Gaga of ripping off one of her songs; this year, the “Born This Way” singer insisted she doesn’t want the Material Girl’s throne.

From an earnings perspective, however, there’s no question over the winner of this battle’s latest round. The honor goes to Madonna, who pulled in $125 million over the past year, making her the highest-paid musician in the world. The bulk of Madge’s millions came from the tail end of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million. She augments her income with heady merchandise sales at concerts, as well as her Material Girl clothing line and Truth or Dare fragrance.

Gaga ranks second with $80 million; she grossed over $160 million on her latest tour before succumbing to a hip injury. Had she been able to finish, she would have likely topped $200 million. Her ARTPOP album was released after the end of our scoring period, but should give her a boost on next year’s list. She could easily reach the No. 1 spot with a successful set of concerts, the main driver for most major artists’ earnings.

“With touring being the biggest revenue stream, if there’s an opportunity for an artist to go out, if there’s an opportunity for a promoter to curate a festival, people are doing it, said Kevin Liles, founder of KWL Enterprises and manager of artists including Big Sean, Trey Songz and Young Jeezy.

A look at the rest of the list underscores the importance of live performances in today’s music world. Bon Jovi ranks third with $79 million, most of it from the appropriately named Because We Can tour. Road warrior Toby Keith pulled in $65 million to land the No. 4 slot, while Coldplay parlayed seven-figure nightly grosses into a $64 million payday.

Of course, product extensions can provide a major boost to an artist’s bottom line as well, and few do it better than Keith. Country’s cash king has his own record label, mescal line and restaurant chain; each outlet has its own stage.

“The beauty is where it synergizes with my label,” he explained to FORBES earlier this year. “I don’t have to look for a place [for my acts] to play … they’re in Toby’s house. They’re drinking Toby’s liquor. That’s Toby’s act. And then we’re moving to the next town.”

A few of the musicians on our list, however, generate nearly all their income to sources other than music sales, record labels and touring. Sean “Diddy” Combs, who ranks No. 11 with $50 million (making him hip-hop’s highest-paid act), earns the bulk of his bucks from his wildly successful Ciroc vodka deal. His Revolt TV network, launched in October, should provide a big boost to future earnings.

Diddy and fellow hip-hop moguls Jay Z (No. 18, $42 million) and Dr. Dre (No. 20, $40 million) are the genre’s lone representatives, while Keith is one of four country acts—Taylor Swift (No. 7, $55 million), Kenny Chesney (No. 9, $53 million) and Tim McGraw (No. 24, $33 million). The rest of the list is made up of pop divas and arena rockers, with the exceptions of Tiësto (No. 25, $32 million) and Calvin Harris (No. 13, $46 million), the world’s two highest-paid DJs.

“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he told FORBES earlier this year.

In order to form our list, we looked at income from June 1st, 2012 through June 1st, 2013, using data sources including Pollstar, the RIAA, Nielsen SoundScan, managers, lawyers and many of the artists themselves. We took into account concert ticket sales, royalties for recorded music and publishing, merchandise sales, endorsement deals and other business ventures.

 

Our estimates reflect pretax income before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers; only living artists are eligible for the list.

That last criterion may seem trivial, but were it removed, the list would have a new champion: Michael Jackson, who pulled in $160 million.

 

Highest-Paid Musicians (Full List):

No. 1: Madonna ($125 million)

 

No. 1: Madonna ($125 million)

The bulk of Madge’s millions this year come from the tail end of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million. Madonna augments her income with heady merchandise sales at concerts as well as her Material Girl clothing line and Truth or Dare fragrance.

No. 2: Lady Gaga ($80 million)

No. 2: Lady Gaga ($80 million)

Though her ARTPOP album was released after the end of our scoring period, the Queen Monster raked in cash on the road before succumbing to a hip injury earlier this year. The tour still grossed $168 million; had she been able to finish, she would have likely topped $200 million.

No. 3: Bon Jovi ($79 million)

No. 3: Bon Jovi ($79 million)

The ageless New Jersey rockers said it best themselves: Because We Can. That's the name of their latest stadium tour, which is grossing over $3 million per city. All in all, the group earned more than Kanye West, Skrillex and Carrie Underwood. Last fall, frontman Jon Bon Jovi celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Soul Kitchen, a pay-what-you-can restaurant in Red Bank, N.J.
No. 4: Toby Keith ($65 million)

No. 4: Toby Keith ($65 million)

Country’s top earner pulled in $270 million over the past five years from millions of records sold, hundreds of concerts played, 18 restaurants opened and one mescal line launched. “The beauty is where it synergizes with my label,” he explained to FORBES earlier this year. “I don’t have to look for a place [for my acts] to play. It’s cost-effective as crap … they’re in Toby’s house. They’re drinking Toby’s liquor. That’s Toby’s act. And then we’re moving to the next town.”

No. 5: Coldplay ($64 million)

No. 5: Coldplay ($64 million)

The pop-rockers have long been compared to Irish supergroup U2, and this year Coldplay out-earned its predecessors on the strength of a world tour that pulled in more than $3 million per city. The band has ascended the ranks of our list with a little help from some superstar friends: frontman Chris Martin and his wife Gwenyth Paltrow are often spotted with Beyoncé (No. 9) and Jay-Z (No. 18), who's been known to join Coldplay onstage.

No. 6: Justin Bieber ($58 million)

No. 6: Justin Bieber ($58 million)

Since appearing on the cover of FORBES last year, the Canadian crooner has toured the world and earned another $58 million (that sum would have been even higher if we hadn't credited him with a double-digit million-dollar merchandise advance last year). He also owns stakes in startups including Enflick, Tinychat and Spotify. (Read more: “Justin Bieber, Venture Capitalist”)

No. 7: Taylor Swift ($55 million)

No. 7: Taylor Swift ($55 million)

Swift released her fourth studio album, Red, in October 2012 and sold 1.2 million copies in week one. The album's first single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," became her first to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart. She parlayed that success into endorsement deals with Diet Coke, Sony and Covergirl, not to mention big bucks on the road.

No. 8: Elton John ($54 million)

No. 8: Elton John ($54 million)

After a year off following the birth of baby Blue Ivy, Beyoncé is back on the road with her Mrs. Carter World Tour—a nod to husband Jay Z, whom she out-earned once again—and makes it back to the upper reaches of our list. In addition to grossing over $2 million in every city she plays, she still collects cash from old hits and non-musical ventures including new deals with Pepsi and H&M, as well as her House of Dereon clothing line.

No. 9: Beyoncé ($53 million, tie)

No. 9: Beyoncé ($53 million, tie)

After a year off following the birth of baby Blue Ivy, Beyoncé is back on the road with her Mrs. Carter World Tour—a nod to husband Jay Z, whom she out-earned once again—and makes it back to the upper reaches of our list. In addition to grossing over $2 million in every city she plays, she still collects cash from old hits and non-musical ventures including new deals with Pepsi and H&M, as well as her House of Dereon clothing line.

No. 9: Kenny Chesney ($53 million, tie)

No. 9: Kenny Chesney ($53 million, tie)

The country superstar continues to outpace some of pop's top-earning acts, pulling in more than the likes of Jay Z, Katy Perry or Rihanna. Chesney's millions come mostly from his summer stadium tours and, to a lesser extent, his annual albums, most recently Life on a Rock. The Tennessee native spends his scant free time at his vacation home in the Virgin Islands, which inspired him to launch his own rum, Blue Chair Bay, in early 2013. “I own it 100%,” he told FORBES. “It was important to me, it’s my inspiration, my story.”

No. 11: Diddy ($50 million)

No. 11: Diddy ($50 million)

Hip-hop’s richest man pulled in another $50 million over the past year (“You started learning how to count right, I see,” he told FORBES earlier this year). The bulk came from his wildly successful Ciroc vodka deal. Other ingredients in his cash cocktail: record label Bad Boy, clothing line Sean John and marketing firm Blue Flame. His Revolt TV network, launched in October with 25 million subscribers, should provide a big boost to future earnings.

No. 12: Paul McCartney ($47 million)

No. 12: Paul McCartney ($47 million)

The former Beatle continues to profit from a lifetime of creating hits, both on his own and as a member of the Fab Four. But he also pads his coffers with earnings with the help of his extensive music publishing holdings, and above all for gigs on the road, where he still grosses millions per night. He released his latest solo album, New, in October.

No. 13: Calvin Harris ($46 million)

No. 13: Calvin Harris ($46 million)

Discovered on Myspace eight year ago as a singer-songwriter, Harris is now the world’s highest-paid DJ. In February, he signed on to play more than 70 shows over a two-year period in Las Vegas. While the majority of his money comes from performing, he also earns from writing and producing songs like “We Found Love” for Rihanna. “The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he told FORBES earlier this year.

No. 14:Jennifer Lopez ($45 million)

No. 14:Jennifer Lopez ($45 million)

Lopez earned $52 million in 2012, then ditched her gig as a judge on American Idol and the $12 million salary that came with it. She's still filling her coffers at nearly the same rate, thanks to a lucrative world tour that grossed her over $1 million per night and a starring role in Latin song competition Q'Viva for Fox. Lopez continues to give back through her foundation and is the first female spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

No. 15: Roger Waters ($44 million)

No. 15: Roger Waters ($44 million)

The veteran rocker, of Pink Floyd fame, has been cashing in on the road over the last three years, grossing nearly half a billion dollars over that period for his The Wall Live tour. With 29 shows during our scoring period as well as plenty of music royalties and merchandise sales, he makes our list for yet another year.

No. 16: Muse ($43 million, tie)

No. 16: Muse ($43 million, tie)

Perhaps the least famous name among music’s 25 top earners, Muse nevertheless earns with the best of them, playing 70 shows with a gross of about $1 million per city, according to concert data provider Pollstar.

No. 16: Rihanna ($43 million, tie)

No. 16: Rihanna ($43 million, tie)

The Barbados-born diva continues to rake in the dough, playing over 40 shows during our scoring period and releasing new album Unapologetic, her seventh in seven years. Even if you're not one of her 30 million-plus Twitter followers, it's hard not miss her recent singles "Diamonds" and "Stay" and her ubiquitous Vita Coco ads. And that's a formula that should keep the cash coming for years.

No. 18: Jay Z ($42 million, tie)

No. 18: Jay Z ($42 million, tie)

He lost his hyphen but gained double-digit millions from lucrative live shows as well as his Armand de Brignac champagne, D’Ussé cognac, Roc Nation label/management firm and other ventures. New album Magna Carta … Holy Grail went platinum before its July launch thanks to a $5 million investment from Samsung that fell just outside our scoring period. (For more, check out Jay Z biography Empire State of Mind).

No. 18: One Direction ($42 million, tie)

No. 18: One Direction ($42 million, tie)

The British boy band continues to cash in on the road, grossing over $1 million per city for 82 shows in our scoring period. More good fortune is on the way: additional gigs all around the world—and the band’s third studio album, Midnight Memories—should push One Direction even higher on next year’s list.

No. 20: Dr. Dre ($40 million, tie)

No. 20: Dr. Dre ($40 million, tie)

The ageless superproducer rarely plays live shows, but Beats By Dr. Dre—the headphone company he co-founded with Jimmy Iovine—keeps his pockets fat. If there was any doubt as to his financial success, he's teaming with Iovine to donate $70 million to establish an academy for arts and technology at the University of Southern California.

No. 21: Rolling Stones ($39 million, tie)

No. 21: Rolling Stones ($39 million, tie)

Despite playing just 19 shows during our scoring period, the legendary rockers still earned enough per show—and from steady royalties from their extensive back catalogue—to make the list. A rumored world tour in 2014 could shoot them to the top of next year’s edition.

No. 22: Red Hot Chili Peppers ($40 million, tie)

No. 22: Red Hot Chili Peppers ($40 million, tie)

The band has been around for decades, but shows no signs of slowing down. RCHP has been touring steadily in support of its latest release, the 2011 album I’m With You, grossing over $1 million per city.

No. 22: Katy Perry ($39 million, tie)

No. 22: Katy Perry ($39 million, tie)

Perry’s new album, PRISM, fell just outside our scoring period, but she still earned plenty for private gigs, a fragrance with Coty and a deal with Popchips, the snackmaker in which she also holds an equity stake. Her 2012 biopic Part of Me added a seven-figure sum to her bottom line.

No. 24: Tim McGraw ($33 million, tie)

No. 24: Tim McGraw ($33 million, tie)

A move to Big Machine Records boosted McGraw’s new album Two Lanes of Freedom to a No. 2 debut on the charts and a lucrative tour padded his coffers; he’s the fourth-ranked earner in all of country music.

No. 25: Pink ($32 million, tie)

No. 25: Pink ($32 million, tie)

Her latest album, 2012’s The Truth About Love, spawned a series of hit singles including “Just Give Me A Reason,” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and “Try.” That, along with a tour that’s been grossing over $2 million per city, was just enough to land Pink on our list.

No. 25. Tiësto ($32 million, tie)

No. 25. Tiësto ($32 million, tie)

The Dutch-born DJ played over 140 shows last year and landed a lucrative residency at Las Vegas superclub Hakkasan this summer, ditching his usual digs in Ibiza. “I’ve been going there for the last 10 years, it felt there was nothing special,” he told FORBES. “And then I got the offer to play in Las Vegas … They made me a great proposal, not just the money but also what they’re going to do there, the biggest club in the world.” (Read more: “The World’s Highest-Paid DJs”).

Methodology

Methodology

In order to form our list, we looked at income from June 1st, 2012 through June 1st, 2013, using data sources including Pollstar, the RIAA, Nielsen SoundScan, managers, lawyers and many of the artists themselves. We took into account concert ticket sales, royalties for recorded music and publishing, merchandise sales, endorsement deals and other business ventures. Our estimates reflect pretax income before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers; only living artists are eligible for the list.

-Forbes

Comments:

Queen!

Now, bow to the Queen caca!

Re: Queen!

Queen of all Queens!

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