Taylor Swift made more money in 2015 than you could imagine – even in your wildest dreams.
The pop superstar was last year’s top earning musician, according to Billboard Magazine’s annual rankings, bringing in total revenues of $73.5 million. That’s nearly twice as much as Kenny Chesney, the second highest ranking artist on the list, who brought in $39.8 million.
Swift’s domination of the charts last year kept her front of mind for … well, pretty much everyone. And that led to sold out performance after sold out performance on her epic tour in support of her album 1989. In fact, that tour brought in some $61.7 million, according to Billboard. She also cleaned up in publishing royalties, thanks to Ryan Adams’ release of a cover album version of 1989. (Swift came in 15th on the 2014 list.)
Musicians rake it in from touring, not streaming or album sales
It was, in fact, touring, that made up the majority of revenues for most artists last year. While a few entertainers made a few million on album sales, almost half the list of 40 failed to crack $1 million in album sales. Streaming revenues were even lower, with only two artists (Drake and The Weekend) making more than $1 million from services like Spotify.
The Rolling Stones came in third among the 2015 rankings, thanks largely to the $37.3 million the band pocketed from its first stadium tour in eight years. Billy Joel was fourth with $31.7 million, almost entirely from his residency at Madison Square Garden (a total of 29 shows).
Last year’s top earning artist, One Direction, fell to fifth place this year, despite the departure of heartthrob Zayne Malik.
What about Adele?
Ranking lower on the list were some artists you might have expected to earn a bit more. Adele, for instance, came in ninth with 2015 revenues of $20.5 million. What’s impressive, though, is the majority of that money came from physical album sales. Her latest album, 25, sold 5.5 million copies, bringing in $16.3 million. Swift was the second closest in the physical sales category with $7.2 million.
Even with Swift’s domination, 2015 certainly demonstrated there’s healthy demand for legacy artists. Beyond Billy Joel and The Stones rankings, there were a number of “classic” rock bands in Top 40. The Grateful Dead raised $23.8 million, Elton John took in $12.4 million, the newly reunited Fleetwood Mac had revenues of $11.3 million and Neil Diamond took in $11.1 million.
Here’s a look at the Top 10:
1) Taylor Swift – $73.5 million
2) Kenny Chesney – $39.8 million
3) The Rolling Stones – $39.6 million
4) Billy Joel – $31.7 million
5) One Direction – $24.2 million
6) Grateful Dead – $23.8 million
7) Luke Bryan – $23.1 million
8) U2 – $21.8 million
9) Adele – $20.5 million
10) Maroon 5 – $19.2 million
All totaled, 24 groups and artists had revenues of $10 million or more last year.