As the concert business rebounded in 2011, touring remained the biggest source of income for the top earners in the U.S. music business. Billboard's sixth annual Money Makers ranking includes veteran road warriors U2, Kenny Chesney and Bon Jovi, as well as other artists emerging in recent years as A-list arena headliners, from Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga. But not all of the 40 artists on the Money Makers list relied heavily, if at all, on touring income.
Thanks to the breathtaking sales of sophomore album "21," Adele made a top 10 showing despite vocal cord problems limiting her ability to perform publicly before she was forced to cancel 10 sold-out U.S. dates in the fall. Sales of the Beatles' classic catalog-powered by impressive digital album sales at iTunes-enabled the Fab Four to make their Money Makers debut. And who says kids don't buy music these days? Justin Bieber enjoyed such robust album and digital track sales that even his absence from the U.S. touring market didn't keep him from making the cut.
Country artists had another banner year, occupying 11 of the 40 slots on the list, with Swift surpassing all with U.S. earnings of $35.7 million, 17% more than the take-home pay of last year's top-earner, Lady Gaga. Conspicuously absent are dance artists, despite the genre's recent commercial resurgence. That's due, in part, to the fact that even the most prominent dance acts can't match the recorded-music sales of mainstream pop, rock and country artists. Moreover, touring itineraries of most star DJs not named Tiësto include multiple club dates, and venue capacities are simply too small to generate the financial returns of an arena tour.