The measure of artistic success isn’t easy to pin down — and its not easy to quantify, either. Ten of Billboard’s top reporters drilled down on artists’ primary music-based revenue streams to determine who, from newcomers to legends, brought home the most bacon in 2014.
For further analysis on the data behind our list, like most lucrative revenue streams and genres, head this way.
(Scroll down to read the methodology of how this list was formulated)
No. 1 — One Direction‘s Where We Are stadium tour was the biggest draw of 2014, attended by more than 3.4 million fans in five months. That translated into a total $40.7 million box-office take, or an average of $8 million apiece for the prefab group’s members — 21-year-olds Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Liam Payne (the youngest artists on this list); the recently departed Zayn Malik, 22; and Louis Tomlinson, 23. Though Malik’s exit clouds the band’s future, 1D’s recorded music showed no signs of lag in 2014: More than 1.3 million album sales and 716.1 million streams meant $4.8 million in combined royalties.
No. 5 — Released 39 years ago, the Eagles‘ Greatest Hits 1971-1975 still sold almost 116,000 copies in 2014.
METHODOLOGY: Money Makers was compiled with Nielsen Music and Billboard Boxscore, 2014 U.S. data only. Revenue from merchandising, synchronization and sponsorship is not included. The following royalty rates, minus a 4 percent producer’s fee, were used: album and track sales, 22 percent of retail revenue; streaming revenue, 22 percent for current acts and 50 percent for heritage acts. Publishing royalties were estimated using statutory mechanical rates for album and track sales and the Copyright Royalty Board streaming formula; for labels’ direct deals with interactive services, blended audio and video rates of, respectively, $0.0075 and $0.0045. (A 10 percent manager’s fee was deducted from each category.) Touring revenue equals 34 percent of an act’s Boxscore.
No. 20 — After debuting at No. 1 in November 2013, Eminem‘s eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, accounted for 38 percent of the 1.4 million albums he sold in 2014, bringing the rapper’s sales royalties to $4.2 million and netting the 42-year-old the highest streaming royalties on this list. In terms of publishing, his $1.5 million puts him in second place in the category, and the three-city, six-date Monster Tour he did with Rihanna put $5.2 million in his pocket.