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75%+ of richest artists’ income is from touring

The ten highest-earning musicians made a combined $71.1m from sales, publishing and streaming in 2016 – less than 25% of the $291.7m earned from touring

By Jon Chapple on 14 Jul 2017

Beyoncé Formation tour

image © Purple PR

On average, the ten highest-paid artists made more than three quarters of their income last year from touring, reveals a new list of music’s biggest money-makers.

The list, compiled by Billboard, combines revenue from sales, streaming, publishing and touring. Of the top ten – Beyoncé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Adele, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Luke Bryan, Kanye West and Kenny Chesney, in that order – only one placed artist, Drake, earnt more from recorded music than from live.

Beyoncé (pictured) brought in US$4.3 million from sales, $1.9m from streaming and $1.3m from publishing, but $54.7m from touring (her Formation world tour was the highest grossing of the year); for second-placed Guns N’ Roses, meanwhile, the figures are $771,700, $670,800, $499,600 and $40.4m, respectively.

Beyoncé’s Formation world tour grosses $256m

Drake, the sole exception to the rule, earnt $18.1m from streaming compared to $13.6m from touring. Kanye West’s streaming performance was also strong ($7.6m), although it was still under half the $15.4m he took home from live shows.

Added together, income from sales, streaming and publishing for the top ten totalled around $71.1m – or just 24.4% of the $291.7m they made from touring.

Music streaming is, of course, on the rise, climbing 9.9% in the first six months of 2017 alone. But –Drake aside – Billboard’s charts illustrate how even the world’s biggest artists are struggling to make significant money from streaming – and prove once again that it’s a good time to be in the concert business…


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