If anyone had any doubt that touring is where the money is in the music business, a quick look at the top Moneymakers for 2008 should hammer the point home.
Regardless of genre, retail sales or radio play, each of the 20 acts on Billboard’s Moneymakers list toured in 2008. (Taylor Swift mostly opened for Brad Paisley but doesn’t get credit for that revenue). For almost all of them, touring generated the most revenue. And in a year when recorded-music sales declined yet again, many earned more at the box office than ever before.
1. Madonna: $242,176,466
2. Bon Jovi: $157,177,766
3. Bruce Springsteen: $156,327,964
4. The Police: $109,976,894
5. Celine Dion: $99,171,237
6. Kenny Chesney: $90,823,990
7. Neil Diamond: $82,174,000
8. Rascall Flatts: $63,522,160
9. Jonas Brothers: $62,638,814
10. Coldplay: $62,175,555
11. The Eagles: $61,132,213
12. Lil Wayne: $57,441,334
13. AC/DC: $56,505,296
14. Michael Buble: $50,257,364
15. Miley Cyrus: $48,920,806
16. Taylor Swift: $45,588,730
17. Journey: $44,787,328
18. Billy Joel: $44,581,010
19. Mary J. Blige: $43,472,850
20. Kanye West: $42,552,402
The top five Moneymakers are also the five acts that earned the most on tour, and in the same order, according to Billboard Boxscore. Eight of the top 10 Moneymakers are in the Boxscore top 10.
Even more remarkably, the top Moneymaker — Madonna — only had the 50th-best-selling album in the country. She ranked 14th on the list of digital track sellers and didn’t place on the ringmasters chart. Her place on Moneymakers, like her $242,176,466 income, comes from the highest-earning tour that took place in 2008.
In fact, those questioning whether Madonna rates a reported 10-year, $120 million 360 deal with Live Nation might reconsider. Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour took in $229,886,340 at the box office, although the extravagant production might have cost up to 40% of that gross, according to industry estimates. The margin is much better on tour merchandise, where Madonna probably raked in more than $18 million in sales, not counting her licensing business.
Of course, nothing helps reduce tour production costs like more touring. So Madonna will perform another run of concerts this summer — 25 shows in the United Kingdom and Europe — which will add to the take of the top-grossing tour by a female or solo artist.
Outside of the United Kingdom, all of Madonna’s concerts will be in stadiums, so she’ll gross several million dollars per night. By fall, Sticky & Sweet will have run for 80 shows and earn a place in the top five grossing tours of all time.
This is the first time Madonna has ever extended a tour. “It absolutely hasn’t happened in the four tours I’ve been involved with,” says Madonna’s tour producer Arthur Fogel, chairman of global music for Live Nation.
“There’s been talk [of extending] during each one, but it has never come to be. But with this one, she loves the show, she’s had a great time and she’s excited about playing new markets.”
Reporting by Mariel Concepcion, Ann Donahue, Mitchell Peters and Ray Waddell.