Jesse Sterling Harrison...
Most of the top grossing music acts have the typical; catchy songwriting, commanding stage performances, and come bank-rolled by the biggest corporate investors. But, after the dust settles - how much money are we really talking about here...?
The big main-stream pop /rock acts seem to bring in a lot of cash – and they show us just how much money there still is in the music business. But, where is the money coming from? Is it song sales, touring, streaming? And, how much cash are we talking here? The numbers below are fresh from Billboard's annual top-earners list, and on the surface they’re astonishing. However, we still have no solid idea what the music artists actually take home at the end of the year. All we can do is speculate on that one. We do get to see where the cash flow is coming from... and it involves a lot of hard work from the musicians...
Here are some of the top-grossing artists by genre.
Taylor Swift: #1 grossing artist of 2015
Income: $73.5 million
This is no surprise. She’s ubiquitous. If you have children under 18, they know at least six of her tunes by heart. She also has an instantly recognizable look… and she spent 2015 touring relentlessly. This takes its toll on anyone who knows how difficult life on the raod can be.
Her live receipts (of more than $62 million) provided the bulk of her astonishing total income of $73 million, (how much of that is her actual take-home income is unknown). She also received more than $4 million from licensing, as her songs made commercial appearances and were covered by other artists. Branding and sponsorship was not included, so her true take home income is quite likely jaw-dropping! Her net-worth is listed at $250 Million by Forbes.
Kenny Chesney: #2 grossing artist of 2015
Income: $39.8 million
Another road warrior, Chesney’s huge concert receipts of $38 million dwarfed the $1.5 million he made elsewhere with sales, streaming, and publishing. Without live shows, he’d just be a measly everyday millionaire.
Chesney’s fans love him enough to pay an average of $80 per head to see him (Taylor Swift averages even more, at $111). Imagine 200 huge venues a year times 10,000 screaming fans times $80 per ticket, and that’s $30 million.Again, his branding and sponsorship was not included, so his true take home income is a lot more! He's the #26 richest celebrity with a 2016 listed net-worth at $225 Million by Forbes.
The Rolling Stones: #3 grossing band of 2015
Income: $39.6 million
Should rock musicians be disheartened that the top rock act is one our grandparents saw live in 1970? Or should we be glad that people are still listening to music with live instruments?
Long one of the top-grossing rock acts, the Stones were the third best-selling musical act of 2015, bringing in just under $40 million. They earned half a million in publishing with their extensive back catalog, but like many of the other acts on this list, most of their money once again came from their live shows.That's a lot of hard touring for a group of guys who are in their 70's. But, since touring is the only way to make money, they have no choice.
The Grateful Dead: #6 grossing artist of 2015
Income: $23.8 million
Nothing stops these guys, not even death. Without the band's founding members, Dead and Co. jam on, bringing in $22 million, nearly all of it from show receipts. This is no surprise for an act whose culture has always been about bootleg swapping and the culture of their shows.
Adele: #9 grossing artist of 2015
Income: $20.5 million (no touring)
That Adele was only number nine might surprise you. However, her total earnings of $20 million are extraordinary because her money came from sales (more than $16 million) and publishing ($3.7 million). The songstress doubled Taylor Swift’s sales and declined to tour this past year, making her the lone act in the top 10 to stay off the road.
Drake: #32 grossing artist of 2015
Income: $7.4 million (#1 for streaming revenues)
While rap once appeared to be obscuring other genres of music and dominating the charts, we had to dive all the way down the list to #32 to find a pure hip-hop artist (although many others in the top 40 have a heavy rap influence; rap is everywhere).
But he had a lot to celebrate: he was the number-one streaming artist with nearly three billion plays. Streaming revenue and an impressive $4 million in sales gave him a total income of more than $7 million.
Jesse Sterling Harrison is an author, recording artist, and part-time farmer. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three daughters, and a herd of ducks.