Look at the financial breakdowns of the top earners on our Top Money Makers of 2016 list, and you’ll notice a mostly consistent theme: Everybody’s making their money through touring.
Beyoncé, our No. 1 Money Maker of 2016, made roughly $54.7 million of her $62.1 million through her live performing — about 88% of her overall tally. And that’s not even as big a piece of the pie as touring is for the No. 2 finisher, Guns N’ Roses ($40.4 million of $42.3 million) or No. 3, Bruce Springsteen ($40.9 million of $42.2 million). And so it goes for the majority of acts on our list: If you wanna be one of the biggest breadwinners in the music industry, you gotta do it on the road.
However, there are a handful of exceptions: Artists among our top earners whose recorded catalogs remains nearly as great an income generator as their live show — and in some especially rare cases, even greater. Here are five of the biggest examples.
Drake (No. 4)
No shame in Drake’s touring haul — $13.6 million in road receipts is pretty considerable. But what really pops about Drake’s totals is his streaming tally, driven by the omnipresence of his Views LP: The first artist in Spotify’s 10 billion stream club trounced the competition last year with a combined 6.8 billion on-demand audio and video streams in 2016.
Twenty One Pilots (No. 13)
As one of the newer acts on the list, Twenty One Pilots don’t yet have quite the clout to command the same kind of stadium prices for their sets, pulling in a respectable-but-not-stratospheric $6.0 million in touring income. The duo nearly match that total with both their streaming ($6.1 million) and publishing ($5.7 million) grosses, though — topping the latter rankings, in large part due to lead Pilot Tyler Joseph being the sole songwriter credited on the group’s multi-platinum-selling Blurryface album.
Metallica (No. 15)
Though there’s no denying Metallica’s supremacy as one of the most dominant live acts in rock history, they got off to a late road start in 2016 — not embarking upon the WorldWired tour in earnest until late October, and only grossing a paltry-by-their-standards $3.8 million for the year through touring. However, the group pulled in a staggering $11.5 million in sales royalties — tops among all our 2016 earners — in large part due to the combination of impressive sales for their well-received new set Hardwired… To Self Destruct, and the band owning their own masters.
Garth Brooks (No. 18)
Brooks made a robust $8.2 million in 2016 touring income, but nearly matched that total in sales royalties ($7.6 million), one of music’s top earners in that category. That hefty total is no doubt partly attributable not only to the commercial strength of Brooks’ back catalog — which includes a stupefying seven RIAA diamond-certified releases — but the fact that his music had long been kept off streaming services, until his eventual appearance on Amazon Music in October 2016.
David Bowie (No. 34)
It should come as no surprise that Bowie didn’t make a cent from touring in 2016, for obvious and tremendously sad reasons. But it’s likely those same reasons that helped make his discography one of the top sellers last year, earning the late rock legend $9.5 million in sales royalties — tops among all earners, outside of Metallica — with 1.3 million album sales and 387 million on-demand streams for his estate-owned catalog.