Not only is U2 the top Money Maker of 2017, the veteran Dublin rockers are also the highest-ranking newcomers to this year’s list. The bulk of the band’s $54.4 million in take-home pay came from its Joshua Tree Tour, which played 28 U.S. dates, including a headlining slot at the Bonnaroo music festival. Bono & Co.’s recorded work generated $2.4 million of the act’s total take, but even that revenue got a boost from its live show. U2’s 2017 album, Songs of Experience, was bundled with ticket sales for its 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour, which helped it debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last December, the band’s eighth chart-topper. The LP generated 186,000 equivalent album sales in its first week of release, the most of any rock album for the year. LAST YEAR: N/A
Click here for an explanation of the methodology used to estimate music's top 50 earners -- plus industry trends uncovered in the process; why no Latin acts made the list; and country music's first three acts to exceed 1 billion streams.
Brooks’ strong showing is almos...
Brooks’ strong showing is almost entirely the result of his road work. He wrapped up a three-and-a-half-year, 390-date concert tour at the end of 2017 that Billboard estimates grossed $137.3 million that year, netting him $46.7 million in take-home pay. LAST YEAR: 18
These monsters of metal were the No.&...
These monsters of metal were the No. 4 live act of 2017 and No. 1 in recorded-music royalties thanks to sales of 1.4 million album copies -- 585,000 of their last LP, 2016’s Hardwired... To Self-Destruct -- and over 1 million tracks, which translated to $8.7 million. LAST YEAR: 15
Mars, who’s new to this year&rs...
Mars, who’s new to this year’s list, claimed a number of milestones in 2017: He’s the top-ranking R&B/hip-hop act, the second-most-played artist on terrestrial radio (with 1.8 million spins), the No. 3 live performer and No. 7 in streaming royalties (2.6 billion streams). LAST YEAR: N/A
Sheeran, who topped the Billboard Hot...
Sheeran, who topped the Billboard Hot 100 twice in 2017 with “Perfect” and “Shape of You,” was the most-played artist on terrestrial radio, with 1.9 million spins. He also netted the third-most total recording and music publishing royalties, $11.5 million. LAST YEAR: N/A
Gaga released her last album, Joanne,...
Gaga released her last album, Joanne, in 2016, so it’s no surprise that her 2017 recorded-music sales were relatively muted. Digital track sales, totaling 2.3 million downloads, were strongest. Her biggest check came from having the No. 6 tour of last year. LAST YEAR: N/A
Joel’s Madison Square Garden re...
Joel’s Madison Square Garden residency, plus another 15 arena and stadium shows, made him the fifth-highest-paid live act of 2017. And despite having released his last studio recording in 2001, his catalog earned over $1.8 million in total royalties. LAST YEAR: 11
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan sile...
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan silenced doubters who said their Not in This Lifetime... Tour (now in its third year) would implode. It netted $25.9 million in 2017, and a healthy 39 percent of GNR’s total recorded-music royalties were from streaming. LAST YEAR: 2
Waters’ robust $1.3 millio...
Waters’ robust $1.3 million in sales royalties are attributable, in part, to his share of the Pink Floyd catalog, which the band owns and is calculated at a higher royalty rate, given the group’s heritage-act status. (Billboard estimates Waters’ cut at 25 percent.) LAST YEAR: N/A
Coldplay ended 2017 with a well-round...
Coldplay ended 2017 with a well-rounded portfolio of income streams. It sold upwards of 2.2 million digital tracks and was one of four rock bands to top 1 billion streams, which helped push its total recorded-music royalties north of $4.1 million. LAST YEAR: 6
The band’s 40th-anniversary tou...
The band’s 40th-anniversary tour, which wrapped just weeks before Petty’s fatal opioid overdose last October, accounted for 85 percent of its total earnings. A spike in consumption of Petty’s music following his death drove $3.6 million in nonconcert royalties. LAST YEAR: N/A
Abel Tesfaye jumps 30 spots from last...
Abel Tesfaye jumps 30 spots from last year’s list to become the No. 2 earner among R&B/hip-hop artists and a superstar of the streaming era, with $3.8 million in royalties. He’s in the top 10 for digital track sales, on demand streams and radio spins. LAST YEAR: 42
The top-earning rapper of 2017, Lamar...
The top-earning rapper of 2017, Lamar netted $9.5 million in recording and publishing royalties, the fifth-highest on this list. Of that total, a whopping $5.3 million came from streaming, which puts him at No. 3 in that income sector. LAST YEAR: N/A
For a heritage act, the Chili Peppers...
For a heritage act, the Chili Peppers generated a hefty 738.6 million streams in 2017, which translates to $1.4 million in earnings. That will buy a lot of mustache wax for Anthony Kiedis. The band was also the No. 12 touring act in the United States last year. LAST YEAR: N/A
In addition to being the No. 2 countr...
In addition to being the No. 2 country artist of 2017 thanks in part to his tireless touring, Bryan is one of just four country acts on this list to earn more from streaming than sales, and one of three to chalk up over 1 billion on-demand streams last year. LAST YEAR: 8
With over 1 billion streams, Florida ...
With over 1 billion streams, Florida Georgia Line is the No. 1 country act in that income category, netting Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley $1.6 million. Not included in FGL’s 2017 take: earnings from entrepreneurial ventures such as the duo’s Old Camp whiskey line. LAST YEAR: 23
As he did in 2017, Macca finishes in ...
As he did in 2017, Macca finishes in the top 20, making bank on his frequent touring and from owning his post-Beatles catalog. He also benefits from particularly high royalty rates for his cut of The Fab Four’s perennially popular repertoire. LAST YEAR: 16
Hova, who released his confessional&n...
Hova, who released his confessional 4:44 LP in 2017, hit 776 million streams last year and raked in $5.9 million in recorded-music royalties, the 11th-highest total on this list. His ownership of the Roc Nation label, which puts out his records, entitles him to a higher royalty rate. LAST YEAR: N/A
Church’s U.S., 47-date Holdin&r...
Church’s U.S., 47-date Holdin’ My Own Tour pocketed him nearly $17 million. He also is one of four country artists who generated more from streaming ($927,000) than sales ($787,000) in 2017 and took home the third most publishing royalties in the genre ($815,000-plus). LAST YEAR: N/A
Springsteen downsized from arenas and...
Springsteen downsized from arenas and stadiums to the 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre and still cracked the Money Makers top 20. Although not technically a tour, his (mostly) one-man show with music, Springsteen on Broadway, has been extended three times and is set to become a Netflix special that will premiere on Dec. 15, the night of his final performance on the Great White Way. LAST YEAR: 3
Stapleton generated the fourth-highes...
Stapleton generated the fourth-highest publishing royalties among country artists. Collectively, the two albums he released in 2017, From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2, crossed the seven-figure sales mark, moving 1.1 million copies. LAST YEAR: N/A
Though 90 percent of Dead & Compa...
Though 90 percent of Dead & Company’s take-home pay was made on the road, the original Grateful Dead’s catalog still racked up a healthy 337,000 album scans, 200,000 song downloads and streaming totals that were north of 230 million last year. LAST YEAR: 33
In January, 77-year-old Diamond annou...
In January, 77-year-old Diamond announced his retirement from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but he finished his final year on the road with a hefty $14.5 million paycheck plus nearly $2 million from his recording career. LAST YEAR: N/A
Trans-Siberian Orchestra released its...
Trans-Siberian Orchestra released its last album in 2015, and its streaming total is the third-lowest on this list, but it continues to draw massive concert crowds, particularly during holiday-season touring where sets draw from TSO’s contemporary Christmas albums. LAST YEAR: 19
Mayer, who released the No. 2 Billboa...
Mayer, who released the No. 2 Billboard 200 album The Search for Everything in 2017, appealed to old school and next-gen fans, netting nearly $900,000 from track/album sales and $1 million-plus from streaming. (His salary from his touring with Dead & Company is not included here.) LAST YEAR: N/A
Dion jumps 11 spots from last year, d...
Dion jumps 11 spots from last year, despite banking the least amount of publishing royalties on the list (because she rarely writes the songs she sings). Still, her catalog generated $1 million in artist royalties, and her Las Vegas residency and live shows minted $15.1 million. LAST YEAR: 37
Future’s take-home pay from his...
Future’s take-home pay from his recording career exceeded his earnings from touring -- a rarity in this age. His artist and publishing royalties total $7.9 million, with almost 70 percent of that from streaming versus $7 million from live appearances. LAST YEAR: 17
In a year without an album release --...
In a year without an album release -- the band’s last LP, This House Is Not for Sale, came out in 2016 -- the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees’ U.S. sales, streaming and publishing royalties still amounted to a respectable $1.6 million. LAST YEAR: N/A
The Dragons ended 2017 with 1.8 billi...
The Dragons ended 2017 with 1.8 billion streams, the most of any rock band on this list. Its No. 2 Billboard 200 album, Evolve, and top five Hot 100 singles, “Believer” and “Thunder,” also helped ring up $7.1 million in total recorded-music royalties. LAST YEAR: N/A
While the bulk of Spears’ incom...
While the bulk of Spears’ income came from live shows and her Las Vegas residency, she netted another $927,000 from her recorded music, including 548 million streams -- about 200 million more than the average generated by the heritage artists on this list. LAST YEAR: 39
NKOTB fans skew old school, as one ca...
NKOTB fans skew old school, as one can see from the quintet’s $42,100 in streaming royalties -- the lowest sum on this list. Live, however, the Kids are hangin’ tough. Their Total Package Tour with Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul netted them about $2.7 million apiece. LAST YEAR: N/A
McGraw, whose third Soul2Soul Tour wi...
McGraw, whose third Soul2Soul Tour with wife Faith Hill kicked off in 2017, earned the bulk of his income on the road, but, aided by the couple’s collaborative LP, The Rest of Our Life, 582.5 million total streams and 1.3 million downloads added another $1.5 million. LAST YEAR: N/A
Queen’s surviving members own t...
Queen’s surviving members own their catalog, which added $4.7 million in sales, streaming and publishing royalties to the tidy sum they make touring with Lambert. The act also generated 640 million streams in 2017, almost double the average of heritage acts listed here. LAST YEAR: N/A
ZBB’s live earnings are no surp...
ZBB’s live earnings are no surprise, given the 24 U.S. dates the Atlanta-based band played behind its 2017 Welcome Home album, but the 658 million streams it notched were stronger than usual for a country act. A million song downloads didn’t hurt either. LAST YEAR: 28
Although his only charting song in 20...
Although his only charting song in 2017 (on R&B/Hip- Hop Songs) was as a featured artist on Miguel’s “Come Through and Chill,” Cole amassed an impressive 2 billion streams last year -- the 10th-highest amount on this list -- which put $2.6 million in his coffers. LAST YEAR: N/A
Like husband Tim McGraw, Hill pockete...
Like husband Tim McGraw, Hill pocketed $12 million from their (still ongoing) Soul2Soul Tour last year, but even with the No. 1 debut of their joint LP, The Rest of Our Life, on Top Country Albums, her 2017 sales and streaming totals are a fraction of her spouse’s. LAST YEAR: N/A
Champagne Papi didn’t tour last...
Champagne Papi didn’t tour last year, which ordinarily would have bumped most artists from this list, but Drake is not most artists. He’s No. 1 in the streaming category, with a $3 million-plus lead over the runner-up, Future. LAST YEAR: 4
For a band that put out its last stud...
For a band that put out its last studio album in 2011 and relies heavily on touring, almost 20 percent of Journey’s earnings, $2.2 million, came from its recorded work, which generated 416 million on-demand streams and 619,000 song downloads. LAST YEAR: 44
Although their streaming numbers are ...
Although their streaming numbers are lower than average for heritage artists (146 million in 2017), ’80s electronic music pioneers Depeche Mode are still touring strong, to the tune of $10.8 million last year. LAST YEAR: N/A
Green Day spent much of last year tou...
Green Day spent much of last year touring behind its 2016 album, Revolution Radio, including 44 U.S. dates that helped vault it onto the list, as did a strong (for a heritage act) 565 million streams and 665,000 song downloads in 2017. LAST YEAR: N/A
In the year before he announced his F...
In the year before he announced his Farewell Yellow Brick Road retirement tour, John, 71, spent quite a bit of time on the road, collecting $9.8 million in the process. He also had a solid year in song downloads (739,000) and streams (357 million). LAST YEAR: 32
Grande is a streaming star -- on...
Grande is a streaming star -- one of 20 acts on this list to top 1 billion on-demand streams in 2017 -- but she also continues to sell her music the old-fashioned way: Fans purchased over 1 million song downloads last year. LAST YEAR: N/A
Jackson’s comeback clearly reso...
Jackson’s comeback clearly resonated with fans, but with no new recordings since 2015, the lion’s share of her take-home pay came from her live shows. Like other heritage artists, her on-demand streaming numbers are anemic: 159.5 million for the year. LAST YEAR: N/A
The Columbus, Ohio, duo spent the sec...
The Columbus, Ohio, duo spent the second half of 2017 working on its upcoming album Trench, which is out Oct. 5, but still notched strong numbers all around, particularly in streaming, where its fans made the act the No. 2 rock band in the category, with 1.8 billion streams. LAST YEAR: 13
“Body Like a Back Road” w...
“Body Like a Back Road” was the hit that wouldn’t quit for Hunt. Although it peaked at only No. 17 on the On Demand Streaming Songs chart, the single helped make Hunt one of three country artists who topped 1 billion streams for 2017. LAST YEAR: N/A
Brown’s combined total of 2.4 b...
Brown’s combined total of 2.4 billion audio and video streams was the seventh-highest on this list, and his $2.6 million in royalties was the ninth-highest. Why the discrepancy? Video streams pay smaller royalties than audio, and Brown logged quite a lot of the former. LAST YEAR: N/A
The Brendon Urie-led act was a triple...
The Brendon Urie-led act was a triple threat in 2017. Panic! logged 1.2 billion streams -- one of four rock acts to break the 10-figure barrier. It also netted $5.9 million in touring behind 2016’s Death of a Bachelor album and generated over 1 million song downloads. LAST YEAR: N/A
Like Drake, Swift made the list solel...
Like Drake, Swift made the list solely on the strength of her recording career. (Her Reputation Tour didn’t launch until May 2018.) She was the year’s top album seller, with 2.2 million units; scanned 2.8 million track downloads; and amassed over 2 billion streams. LAST YEAR: N/A
Def Leppard’s fans prefer head-...
Def Leppard’s fans prefer head-banging to streaming: The band finished the year with the second-lowest on-demand total for this list. That said, it sold 200,000 album copies from its catalog --the band's classic 1987 album Hysteria was reissued last year-- and took home $9.2 million from touring. LAST YEAR: 38
The Chainsmokers’ decision to r...
The Chainsmokers’ decision to release an album in 2017, Memories...Do Not Open, following a flurry of singles, paid off. The duo finished the year with the fourth-highest number of track downloads, 3.5 million, and a very strong 2.1 billion streams. LAST YEAR: N/A