Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift among Music’s Biggest Moneymakers

moneyOnly three country acts are among the past year’s top moneymakers in music:

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. Rascal 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.

I’m not surprised to see touring becoming increasingly significant as a moneymaker, but I am curious to see if any of our readers actually caught one of the shows above. I went to one, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing a few others.  Just not any of the country acts.


  1. Whats this?! No Dolly Parton? Damn. Can you believe little Miley and Taylor racked up that kind of change on their tours? wow. Interesting to see that rock fans support the older artists such as Madonna and Springsteen…good for them.

  2. Regarding rock fans supporting the older artists: As Bob Seger once sang, “Rock and roll never forgets.” I do find it ironic that country music, which used to value its seasoned veterans, now seems to favor youth–something that rock and roll was accused of doing for a long time.

  3. I’m assuming that these are gross amounts? I doubt the artists see a ton of this money after paying for the tour, managers, publicists, accountants, attorneys, songwriters, musicians, record company, etc. etc.

    I made it to the Springsteen and Eagles concerts this past year. The Eagles charge an exorbitant amount. Approx. $250 per ticket. It was worth doing once. Springsteen charged something fairly normal, but by the time the Ticketmaster fees kicked in, it didn’t feel that way.

    Random story, but highlights the power of artist/concert/fan connection and the tragedy of over-pricing tickets: I was deathly ill the first time Springsteen came through So. Cal. and couldn’t move, much less go to the concert (it was also 1.5 hours away). I thought about selling my ticket, but I held out hope until the last minute that I could make it, so I was too late to sell.

    Therefore, maybe an hour or two before the show I went on his fansite and decided to give it away for free. Some poor kid trolling the site for a really cheap ticket was the first to respond (among dozens). I sent him the ticket and asked him to drop me an email the next day and tell me if it was a good show. The next day, instead of a quick note, I got a multi-page rambling song-by-song analysis from a kid who could never have otherwise afforded to go to the concert of one of his idols. He went on to tell me how much going to the concert meant to him. It was so incredibly touching.

    Darn those artists who charge an arm and a leg and those promoters who rip us off with unnecessary fees!! Way to kill the music. Luckily for me, the Boss came back through town and I had the chance to see what the kid was talking about. It was awesome.

  4. Lynn:

    I can understand your frustration with these high ticket prices, where it seems that to go to a big concert like Springsteen’s, or anyone else’s for that matter, you almost have to take out a second mortgage on your house (and in times like these, I wouldn’t).

    And it’s not only the promoters who do this. So many of these shows take place in sports arenas or stadiums, and they are, in my honest opinion, the most god-awful places to actually hear music. The acoustics are often atrocious in places like those, and you can sometimes even hear the echoes of a guitar solo from the last act to play in such a place echoing through the rafters. If they could just cut down on the gimmickry, and not feel that they have to impress with anything but their songs, I think the fans would be a heck of a lot happier–and their wallets would still be flush with cash, of course.

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