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Highest-paid musicians in 2018

Highest-paid musicians in 2018
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Highest-paid musicians in 2018

As lucrative careers go it's a good time to be a musician—as long as you’re at the top. With multiple profitable income avenues—streaming included—the last two years have shown steady growth. So, how much money are artists actually seeing?

Billboard recently released its Money Makers report, listing the 50 highest paid musicians in 2018. The list ranks the earnings of the top 50 music acts based on their U.S. sales, streaming, publishing, and touring in 2017. The latter makes up the majority (almost 80%) of the total income on the list, and those who had massive tours ranked at the top. 24 rock, nine pop, nine country, and eight R&B/hip-hop acts (including one EDM group) made the list. This year alone, their combined income grew 12.9% to nearly $961 million, up from $851 million.

Did your favorite artist make it to the top? Read on to find out.

#50. The Chainsmokers
2/The Come Up Show // Wikimedia Commons

#50. The Chainsmokers

Earnings: $9.10 million

Alex Pall and Drew Taggart comprise this Grammy Award-winning EDM-pop duo. After a cringeworthy appearance on “American Idol” in 2014, Pall and Taggart rebuilt their reputation into one of commercial success. The Chainsmokers released “Memories...Do Not Open” in 2017, which saw 3.5 million track downloads by the end of the year. 

#49. Def Leppard
3/AngryApathy // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Def Leppard

Earnings: $9.20 million

This English rock band has been pumping out tunes since 1977. Their spot on this list was secured by tour revenue, as well as the reissue of their 1987 album “Hysteria,” which helped push the album copies sold from their catalog to 200,000.

#48. Taylor Swift
4/Gabbo T // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Taylor Swift

Earnings: $9.30 million

The American singer-songwriter has eclipsed pop-stardom, packing stadiums, and breaking concert attendance records across on her current “Reputation” tour. But that didn't even weigh into the list—Swift earned her spot first for being the top album-seller in 2017, with 2.8 million track downloads.

#47. Panic! at the Disco
5/Sarah Zucca // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Panic! at the Disco

Earnings: $9.40 million

This American rock band's star is rising—with more than a billion streams in 2017, they've been asked to make their inaugural performance at the American Music Awards. Panic! at the Disco will play "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a tribute to Queen at the AMAs. They're also nominated in the favorite artist/alternative rock category.

#46. Chris Brown
6/Eva Rinaldi // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Chris Brown

Earnings: $9.8 million

Chris Brown has been a fixture on the American pop scene since 2005. He's a quadruple threat when it comes to earnings. In 2017, he saw a combined total of 2.4 billion audio and video streams—the seventh-highest on the list. Too bad video streams pay less than audio, or he probably would have seen even more.

#45. Sam Hunt
7/Steven Worster // Flickr

#45. Sam Hunt

Earnings: $10.70 million

One of country music's most notable new stars, Sam Hunt's debut album “Montevallo” just logged its 200th consecutive week on the Billboard 200, where it debuted at #2 in 2014. In 2017, he was one of three country artists who topped one billion streams.

#44. Twenty One Pilots
8/pitponey.photography // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Twenty One Pilots

Earnings: $11 million

When two college friends formed Twenty One Pilots nearly a decade ago, they probably didn’t expect to rank among the highest-paid musicians of their time. In 2017, they earned $11 million in combined revenue.

#43. Janet Jackson
9/J Vettorino // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Janet Jackson

Earnings: $11.34 million

Even though the legendary pop star hasn’t released an album since 2015’s “Unbreakable,” she still made the list. Jackson spent the year touring, which brought in most of her revenue, and released "Made For Now" with Daddy Yankee.

#42. Ariana Grande
10/Berisik Radio.com // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Ariana Grande

Earnings: $11.36 million

The sitcom star-turned-pop music icon is new to the list, and one of a handful to surpass one billion streams for the year. She also brought in $9.4 million during her “Dangerous Woman” tour across North America and Europe.

#41. Elton John
11/Richard Mushet // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Elton John

Earnings: $11.40 million

The English singer-songwriter announced his retirement from touring in early 2018, but that didn't keep Elton John from bringing in $11.4 million in 2017. $9.8 million came from his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. He also ranks formidably in streaming and downloads.

#40. Green Day
12/Ed Vill // Flickr

#40. Green Day

Earnings: $11.61 million

The pop-punk rock band has been around for more than 30 years and is still going strong, with multiple Grammy awards, massive sales, and even a rock musical based on their 2004 album “American Idiot.” Green Day toured in 2017, bringing in $9.2 million.

#39. Depeche Mode
13/Cilou 101 // Flickr

#39. Depeche Mode

Earnings: $11.64 million

Electronic music masters Depeche Mode made their mark in 2017 with the “Global Spirit” tour, in support of their 14th studio album, “Spirit.” The 130-show tour was the band's longest, bringing in $10.8 million of the $11.64 million they earned that year.

#38. Journey
14/Matt Becker // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Journey

Earnings: $11.70 million

This American rock band may not have a new album—their last was released in 2011—but they definitely still know how to tour. In 2017, they joined Santana for concerts in the U.S. before heading to Southeast Asia, followed by a full North America tour. The shows accounted for $9.5 million of the $11.7 million Journey earned in 2017.

#37. Drake
15/The Come Up Show // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Drake

Earnings: $12.10 million

The actor-turned-rapper made $12.1 million last year—without a tour. He ranks in first place for streaming on the list, earning $8.6 million—$3 million ahead of the runner-up.

#36. Faith Hill
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#36. Faith Hill

Earnings: $12.50 million

The pop-country singer raked it in on the “Soul2Soul” tour she co-headlined with husband Tim McGraw. Part of her $12.5 million income was from the famous couple’s “The Rest of Our Life” LP, released last year.

#35. J. Cole
17/Kirstenmgreene // Wikimedia Commons

#35. J. Cole

Earnings: $12.90 million

J. Cole's streaming songs (two billion of them) comprised a large portion of his income last year. His “4 Your Eyez Only” tour, in support of his eponymous album, also brought in $7.8 million.

#34. Zac Brown Band
18/Jim Greenhill // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Zac Brown Band

Earnings: $13.10 million

Georgia native Zac Brown had a record-breaking year in 2017. The band's “Welcome Home” tour saw more than a million fans at more than 40 shows, and sold out venues like Denver's Coors Field and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Concert revenue accounted for $10 million of the band’s total earnings of $13.1 million.

#33. Queen & Adam Lambert
19/DianaKat // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Queen & Adam Lambert

Earnings: $13.40 million

English rock band Queen teamed up with Adam Lambert for a 25-city North American tour, earning them $8.7 million. Queen also owns its catalog, which brought in another $4.7 million in royalties.

#32. Tim McGraw
20/sunnyd_57 // Flickr

#32. Tim McGraw

Earnings: $13.48 million

Along his wife, singer Faith Hill, country star Tim McGraw earned $12 million in 2017 from the couple's “Soul2Soul” Tour. Streaming and music downloads brought in the majority of 2018’s income.

#31. New Kids On The Block
21/Ibolya Nyikos // Wikimedia Commons

#31. New Kids On The Block

Earnings: $13.48 million

The heartthrobs of the 1980s came back in 2017 with a vengeance. The band hit the road with fellow 80s groups Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul, and brought in $13.3 million.

#30. Britney Spears
22/Drew de F Fawkes // Flickr

#30. Britney Spears

Earnings: $14.1 million

Pop star Britney Spears’s residency at the Park Theater and The Park MGM in Las Vegas will earn her $500,000 per show. She didn't do too badly performing at Planet Hollywood for the last four years, either. In 2017, she earned $13.2 million.

#29. Imagine Dragons
23/IgorSaveliev // Pixabay

#29. Imagine Dragons

Earnings: $14.40 million

With 1.8 billion streams bringing in $2.2 million, alternative rock band Imagine Dragons had the most streams of any band on the list. They also earned $7.4 million on tour.

#28. Bon Jovi
24/Earl McGehee // Flickr

#28. Bon Jovi

Earnings: $14.50 million

Last year, the American rock band hit the road on their “This House Is Not for Sale” tour, which brought in $12.9 million. Coupled with streaming and publishing royalties, the band earned $14.5 million and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

#27. Future
25/thecomeupshow // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Future

Earnings: $15 million

The American rapper set off on his “Nobody Safe” tour in 2017, earning him $7 million—slightly less than what he brought in from record sales, streaming and downloads.

#26. Céline Dion
26/Anirudh Koul // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Céline Dion

Earnings: $16.2 million

It pays to work in Las Vegas if you’re Canadian superstar Céline Dion. Dion brought in a whopping $15.1 million from her residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with additional earnings from royalties.

#25. John Mayer
27/JD Lasica // Wikimedia Commons

#25. John Mayer

Earnings: $16.2 million

Singer-songwriter John Mayer’s “The Search for The Search for Everything” world tour earned him $13.4 million. He also released “The Search for Everything: Wave One” and “The Search for Everything: Wave Two,” earning $900,000 from track and album sales and more than $1 million from streaming.

#24. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
28/Lawrence Fund // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Earnings: $16.3 million

Seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live is a wonder to behold. The laser light and sound spectacle earned the rock band $15.6 million last year, despite the death of lyricist/founder Paul O'Neill in April of 2017.

#23. Neil Diamond
29/neal whitehouse piper // Flickr

#23. Neil Diamond

Earnings: $16.5 million

After wrapping his 50th anniversary tour in 2017, which earned him $14.5 million, Neil Diamond wrapped up 2017 by singing "Sweet Caroline" in Manhattan's Times Square. A few weeks later, he announced his retirement, owing to Parkinson's disease.

#22. Dead & Company
30/Brianga // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Dead & Company

Earnings: $17.6 million

The remaining members of the Grateful Dead, along with John Mayer, packed stadiums in 2017 to earn $15.9 million. The rest of the $17.6 million came from the band’s catalog, which is still going strong.

#21. Chris Stapleton
31/Julio Enriquez // Flickr

#21. Chris Stapleton

Earnings: $17.90 million

Country music star Chris Stapleton released two albums in 2017, which ranked him fourth from the top in publishing royalties for his genre. He also brought in $13.3 million from his tour.

#20. Bruce Springsteen
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#20. Bruce Springsteen

Earnings: $18.5 million

The Boss hit Broadway in 2017 with “Springsteen on Broadway,” a solo show that runs through December 2018 and airs on Netflix on December 15th. The production earned the renowned singer-songwriter $17.3 million.

#19. Eric Church
33/Townsquare Media // Flickr

#19. Eric Church

Earnings: $19.40 million

The country star saw enormous success from his “Holdin’ My Own” tour, with 61 shows that earned him $16.9 million. Streaming brought in $927,000.  

#18. Jay-Z
34/Rich Thane // Flickr

#18. Jay-Z

Earnings: $19.8 million

The hip-hop star and business mogul had a banner year in 2017. He became the first artist of his genre to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and released “4:44,” his 13th solo album, which received 776 million streams. He also earned $14 million from touring.

#17. Paul McCartney
35/Jim Summaria // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Paul McCartney

Earnings: $20.5 million

Although he ranks 20th in earnings for 2017, Paul McCartney is in fact the richest musician in Britain. Royalties from the Beatles' back catalog and streaming services, along with with $16.8 million from touring, brought in $20.5 million for McCartney last year.

#16. Florida Georgia Line
36/Morgan Williams // Flickr

#16. Florida Georgia Line

Earnings: $20.90 million

The American country music duo rules when it comes to streaming: they earned $1.6 million, the most of any country act. They found immense success with touring as well, pocketing $17.8 million.

#15. Luke Bryan
37/Morgan Williams // Flickr

#15. Luke Bryan

Earnings: $21 million

The country music singer is a force when it comes to touring. “His Huntin’, Fishin’, & Lovin’ Every Day” tour earned $17.8 million last year. During that time, he also was the first to perform at the Opry's "home away from home" at Times Square's Opry City Stage.

#14. Red Hot Chili Peppers
38/Warner Bros. // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Earnings: $21.6 million

The alternative rock megastars have been mainstays in the music industry for more than 30 years. They are still pounding the pavement on tour as well, which brought in $18.5 million last year.

#13. Kendrick Lamar
39/John Elbaz // Flickr

#13. Kendrick Lamar

Earnings: $21.70 million

The rapper continued a wave of momentum in 2017 with the release of “DAMN,” which went double-platinum. Lamar also earned $5.3 million from streaming, ranking him third in that category.

#12. The Weeknd
40/The Come Up Show // Flickr

#12. The Weeknd

Earnings: $23.3 million

Streaming and touring earned the Canadian rapper the 12th spot on the list, making him the second most successful act in his genre based on earnings. Streaming alone netted him $3.8 million in royalties.

#11. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
41/Caitlyn Ridenour // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Earnings: $23.4 million

Last year marked the band's 40th anniversary tour. Sadly, lead singer Tom Petty passed away just a few weeks after the final show. The band brought in $19.8 million, and saw a spike in sales following Petty's death to bring their earnings to $23.4 million.

#10. Coldplay
42/Christopher Johnson // WIkimedia Commons

#10. Coldplay

Earnings: $26.5 million

The British rock band’s “Head Full of Dreams” tour was the third-highest grossing world tour ever, according to Billboard. The tour included 114 shows, and brought in $22.3 million.

#9. Roger Waters
43/Brennan Schnell // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Roger Waters

Earnings: $27.2 million

Roger Waters earned $1.3 million in 2017 from royalties of his own, as well as his share of the Pink Floyd catalog. His “Us + Them” world tour brought in $25.2 million.

#8. Guns N' Roses
44/Delusion 23 // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Guns N' Roses

Earnings: $27.8 million

The American rock band found success in their “Not in This Lifetime” tour. In 2017, they brought in $25.9 million.

#7. Billy Joel
45/slgckgc // Flickr

#7. Billy Joel

Earnings: $29.2 million

In 2018, Billy Joel became the first musician with a music franchise at New York's Madison Square Garden. His residency at the famed venue began in 2014 and hit 100 shows in July. In 2017, his residency (in addition to other larger shows) earned him $27.4 million in touring revenue.

#6. Lady Gaga
46/Justin Higuchi // Flickr

#6. Lady Gaga

Earnings: $29.7 million

Always a performer, Lady Gaga had the sixth most profitable tour last year, bringing in $26.5 million. She also earned income from 2.3 million downloads, pushing the total to $29.7 million.

#5. Ed Sheeran
47/Drew de F Fawkes // Flickr

#5. Ed Sheeran

Earnings: $31.30 million

Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" was 2017's hottest track, with "Castle On The Hill" coming in at #40 on the year-end charts. No doubt bolstered by the hype, Sheeran brought in $11.5 million in publishing royalties, and $19.9 million from touring.

#4. Bruno Mars
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#4. Bruno Mars

Earnings: $40.7 million

The R&B/hip-hop performer set out on his “24K Magic” world tour in March of 2017, and raked in $33.9 million by year-end. He released his album "24K Magic" in 2016, and raked in big bucks from 2.6 billion streams.

#3. Metallica
49/Ralph_PH // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Metallica

Earnings: $43.2 million

The heavy metal band ranked as the #4 live act of 2017, bringing in $30.7 million from their “WorldWired” tour. They also earned $8.7 million from album sales.

#2. Garth Brooks
50/fatherspoon // Flickr

#2. Garth Brooks

Earnings: $52.2 million

If it seems as though this country singer is perpetually on tour, it’s because he is. His “World Tour” logged 390 dates by the end of 2017, earning him $46.7 million for the year.

#1. U2
51/R. L. 68 // Wikimedia Commons

#1. U2

Earnings: $54.40 million

The “Joshua Tree Tour” celebrated the 30th anniversary of U2’s seminal album, placing the Irish rock band in the top spot for earnings. They brought in $52 million from live shows alone. The tour hit 33 stops, where the band played the album in its entirety.

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