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Money Makers

From Prince to Beyonce, our annual list of music's top fifty earners

ROBERT LAFRANCO

Posted Feb 10, 2005 12:00 AM

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1. Prince
$56.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD It rained green, not purple, for Prince in 2004. With $90.3 million in ticket sales, he returned to center stage after a decade in the commercial wilderness, scoring the year's second-highest-grossing tour. And thanks to low production costs, his net take was larger than top grosser Madonna's. (It took twenty-four trucks to haul around Madonna's mammoth tour, while Prince's bare-bones show needed only twelve.) Prince took a reported eighty-five percent of the profits from the concerts, which earned an average $910,000 a night -- and he'll command a higher percentage next time.
ON CD Prince sold 1.9 million copies of 2004's Musicology, but that figure is misleading: In a unique scheme, a ten-dollar CD surcharge built into his ticket prices meant that every concertgoer got a copy of the album, whether they wanted it or not. Nonetheless, free agent Prince strikes only one-album distribution deals with record companies (Columbia, in the case of Musicology), which means he earns more than two dollars per CD.
Last year's rank: NA

2. Madonna
$54.9 MILLION

ON THE ROAD High ticket prices may be agony for fans, but they put Madonna in second place on the list of top-earning musicians. Despite playing only fifty-six concerts in 2004, Madonna hauled in more money on the road than any other artist, charging as much as $300 a seat. She also demanded -- and got -- ninety-five percent of her shows' profits. The hefty prices helped her Re-Invention Tour draw in more than $2 million a night in North America, a profitable figure despite monumental production costs and weak sales in some cities.
ON CD Touring provided nearly all of Madonna's music-related revenue in 2004: Her most recent album, American Life, sold only 650,000 copies, and she has yet to earn back a $20 million advance on future CD sales from 2002.
ON THE SIDE Madonna's remarkably successful sideline as an author of children's books is helping her keep that pricey kabbalah water flowing: In total, her four tomes (Yakov and the Seven Thieves and The Adventures of Abdi were published last year) have sold more than 1.5 million copies.
Last year's rank: NA

3. Metallica
$43.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The band's Madly in Anger With the World Tour was the fourth-biggest in North America last year.
ON CD The members of Metallica don't need to lift a finger, or bang a head, to earn million-dollar-plus salaries. Credit goes to a shrewd mid-1990s renegotiation with Elektra Records by the band's management company and consistent sales for catalog albums. Metallica perennials the Black Album and Master of Puppets helped the band sell 1.4 million units from catalog alone in 2004. They earn close to three dollars for each CD -- which might help explain their aversion to file-trading.
ON THE SIDE Metallica haven't yet eked out a profit from the theatrical and DVD release of their soul-baring documentary, Some Kind of Monster, which they co-own with its directors. But it can't hurt their financial picture that they finally canned the $40,000-a-month therapist seen in the film.
Last year's rank: 5

4. Elton John
$42.9 MILLION

ON THE ROAD John made his debut as a Vegas entertainer in 2004, earning $18 million with an extravagant, David LaChapelle-designed show. He grossed another $91 million outside Vegas.
ON CD John and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin picked up substantial publishing revenue from airplay and cover songs, including Ray Charles' version of "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," from 2004's Genius Loves Company.
Last year's rank: 22

5. Jimmy Buffett
$36.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Loyal Parrot Heads helped canny businessman Buffett gross almost $29 million in his latest lap around the nation's amphitheaters.
ON CD His first-ever country album, License to Chill, debuted at Number One (a first for Buffett) and sold an astounding 1.3 million copies. Buffett releases his CDs on his own label, keeping far more profits than most artists do.
ON THE SIDE His Margaritaville chain of retail stores, nightclubs and restaurants generates an eight-figure income.
Last year's rank: 17

6. Rod Stewart
$34.6 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The Great American Songbook is earning Stewart great American dollars: The rocker turned crooner grossed $37 million with his classics tour, plus $10 million for private gigs.
ON CD Publishing revenue from past hits amounts to more than $3 million a year, and his third standards album, Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3, has sold 1.2 million copies.
Last year's rank: NA

7. Shania Twain
$33.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Man, she feels like an ATM machine! Raking in $63 million, Twain had the year's biggest county tour and the third-highest-grossing overall.
ON CD Twain sold more than 4 million discs, led by her greatest-hits collection.
Last year's rank: 8

8. Phil Collins
$33.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The solid success of Collins' farewell outing wasn't exactly against all odds: Charging close to eighty dollars a ticket, he played to more than 300,000 people in North America.
Last year's rank: NA

9. Linkin Park
$33.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The tireless sextet embarked on three separate tours in 2004 -- the Projekt Revolution package with Korn and Snoop Dogg, a U.S. solo outing and an overseas jaunt. The total haul: $35 million.
ON CD Meteora (2003) and last year's Collision Course -- the CD/DVD document of their MTV mash-up collaboration with Jay-Z -- each sold more than 1 million copies. Another CD, Live in Texas, sold another 440,000.
Last year's rank: NA

10. Simon and Garfunkel
$31.3 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Last year the reunited duo split a $1 million-per-night guarantee in the U.S. -- but distressed promoters by earning little more than that at most venues. The two had some impressive sellouts overseas, however, including a $4.5 million night in Hyde Park, London.
ON CD Catalog sales amounted to 500,000 copies last year, and Simon nabbed $4 million in songwriting income.
Last year's rank: 9

11. Van Halen
$30.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD High hopes for the first Van Hagar tour in eight years led to guarantees of up to $1 million a night, but ticket sales fell short. So, even as it counts a $38 million 2004 gross, the band will have to settle for less upfront next time.
ON CD Catalog sales amounted to slightly fewer than 500,000 units in 2004; publishing royalties brought in nearly $2 million.
ON THE SIDE The band added to tour revenue by selling T-shirts and hats at the impressive rate of ten dollars per person.
Last year's rank: NA

12. Toby Keith
$27.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The king of ultra-patriotic country earned 44 million mostly red-state dollars in an election-year tour.
ON CD With help from "American Soldier," Keith sold 4 million albums in 2004.
Last year's rank: 6

13. Kenny Chesney
$27.4 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The rising country hunk grossed $49 million on tour, despite a rock-bottom forty-four-dollar ticket price. More than 1 million people attended his seventy-three U.S. gigs, making this tour second only to Prince in tickets sold.
ON CD Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down was the top-selling country album of the year, moving 3.1 million units.
Last year's rank: 27

14. The Eagles
$27.3 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Don Henley and Co. grossed about $26 million on a worldwide outing, with the band earning guarantees of up to $1 million. Want to hire the Eagles for your corporate party? That'll cost up to $2 million (they played five such events last year).
ON CD Take it easy? No way. The Eagles sold 1.1 million cds in 2004. And thanks to a contentious 1978 settlement with former manager David Geffen, they keep 100 percent of their publishing royalties -- which added up to $5 million-plus.
ON THE SIDE Even after paying $100 a ticket, concertgoers gobbled up an average of fifteen dollars each of Eagles merchandise -- double what most teen-pop acts collect.
Last year's rank: 3

15. Sting
$26.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Sting grossed $52 million on his 2004 world tour, and he kept ticket prices at a relatively low fifty dollars on average. He funnels the cash through his production company, Steerpike, which pays him around $34 million a year.
ON CD Sting's catalog sales -- even for Police classics -- are surprisingly low.
Last year's rank: NA

16. Usher
$25.8 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Usher made his real money on tour, with a nightly guarantee of $450,000 and forty-three U.S. dates. Fans bought so many tickets that promoters at AEG Live say their only disappointment was that they hadn't set up more shows.
ON CD Yeah! Usher's breakthrough smash, Confessions -- which sold 8 million copies -- scored him eight Grammy nominations and a profit of about $9 million.
Last year's rank: NA

17. David Bowie
$25.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Bowie earned $46 million on his largest-scale greatest-hits tour since 1990.
ON CD Catalog sales and publishing royalties added up to about $4 million, but Bowie won't see most of it: In 1997's offering of "Bowie Bonds," he gave up the profits from his pre-1990 work in exchange for $55 million in cash.
Last year's rank: NA

18. Eric Clapton
$25.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Clapton made the all-Robert Johnson disc Me and Mr. Johnson -- and grossed $35 million on the blues-packed accompanying tour.
ON CD Me and Mr. Johnson sold more than 550,000 copies in 2004, and Clapton moved about the same number of catalog albums.
Last year's rank: NA

19. 50 Cent
$24.9 MILLION

ON THE ROAD His Beg for Mercy Tour grossed $4 million.
ON CD Dr. Dre and Eminem's protege (who is co-signed to their record labels, Aftermath and Shady) is now out-earning both of them. 50 has earned $14 million in royalties from Get Rich or Die Tryin' since its 2003 release, and a record-contract renegotiation last year won him a reported extra $8 million payout. Not to mention the substantial royalties 50 earned on cds by artists on his G Unit label (such as, er, G Unit and G Unit member Lloyd Banks). Meanwhile, the Game's Number One debut gave 50 Cent's 2005 a strong start.
ON THE SIDE Reebok sold more than 1 million pairs of G Unit sneakers, netting 50 Cent at least $6 million in royalties.
Last year's rank: 34

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20. Jay-Z
$24.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Jay-Z took on a hundredth problem when his tour with R. Kelly fell apart contentiously halfway through. The twenty-four dates they played earned $14 million -- but Kelly has filed a pending $75 million breach-of-contract lawsuit. Jay-Z has countersued.
ON CD The Black Album sold 1.4 million copies last year alone, and the Collision Course CD/DVD collaboration with Linkin Park sold more than 1.2 million. How's retirement going, Hova?
ON THE SIDE In December, Jay-Z and his partners sold their remaining stake in his Roc-A-Fella Records label to Island Def Jam Recordings for $10 million -- and Jay-Z became Island Def Jam's president. He also took in at least $1 million in salary from his Rocawear clothing line, and he has diversified his interests: taking part ownership of the New Jersey Nets and opening the 40/40 Club, a high-end sports bar, in Manhattan.
Last year's rank: NA

21. Celine Dion
$24 MILLION

ON THE ROAD For Dion, hanging out at home -- Caesars Palace in Las Vegas -- meant more than $20 million a year in concert income.
ON CD Dion sold 1.5 million albums.
Last year's rank: 11

22. Red Hot Chili Peppers
$22.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The Peppers played the world's highest-grossing concert stand last year, earning $17 million for three shows in London's Hyde Park.
ON CD The band's 2003 Greatest Hits CD is still selling, and it earned about $3 million in publishing royalties.
Last year's rank: 41

23. Dave Matthews Band
$21.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Despite not releasing new music in 2004, Dave Matthews Band raked in Hacky Sack players' cash on tour, taking in $38 million and playing before 900,000 people.
ON CD DMB sold almost 500,000 catalog CDs and 280,000 concert DVDs.
Last year's rank: 16

24. Bette Midler
$21.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Midler's Kiss My Brass tour earned a reported $500,000-per-night guarantee for fifty-six shows.
Last year's rank: NA

25. Norah Jones
$21.2 MILLION

ON CD Jones' second album, Feels Like Home, sold 8 million copies worldwide. And her 2002 debut, Come Away With Me, didn't stop selling, moving another 1.3 million copies.
Last year's rank: 20

26. Tim McGraw
$20.3 MILLION

ON THE ROAD McGraw played to more than 700,000 people, averaging $540,000 per night for fifty-five shows.
ON CD 3.3 million albums sold.
Last year's rank: 35

27. Evanescence
$18.9 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Amy Lee and her band were anything but evanescent in 2004, playing to 1 million fans at seventy shows in the U.S. and overseas. The tour hit larger venues abroad, helping them gross $30 million.
ON CD The band's debut, Fallen, sold more than 11 million copies worldwide, making Evanescence one of the only rock bands in 2004 to earn as much from record royalties as they did from touring. Lee still splits the band's publishing royalties with departed guitarist Ben Moody, with whom she shared songwriting credits for the first album.
ON THE SIDE Lee earned several hundred thousand dollars for "Broken," a duet with her boyfriend, Seether's Shaun Morgan, which appeared on the soundtrack of The Punisher, a Marvel Comics adaptation.
Last year's rank: NA

28. Paul McCartney
$18.6 MILLION

ON THE ROAD McCartney played only fourteen shows in '04, grossing as much as $2 million a night.
ON CD McCartney takes in about $5 million a year in publishing royalties.
ON THE SIDE He earned another $5 million from his publishing company, MPL Communications, whose catalog includes his solo work, Buddy Holly's songs and more.
Last year's rank: 43

29. Luis Miguel $18.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The Latin crooner took home $500,000 a night for shows all over the Americas.
Last year's rank: NA

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30. Eminem
$18.3 MILLION

ON CD He's a rapper and a business mogul: Eminem sold more than 4 million copies of his own CDs (including 3.5 million copies of 2004's Encore), and he earned additional royalties on hit discs by 50 Cent, D-12 and G Unit, all released by his Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. The Shady/Aftermath family sold 8 million cds.
ON THE SIDE Eminem's clothing line, Shady Ltd., earned at least $1.5 million.
Last year's rank: 28

31. George Strait
$18.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The country vet sold out most dates, despite a relatively high ticket price.
ON THE SIDE Strait sold nine dollars a head of merchandise per show.
Last year's rank: NA

32. Phish
$17.8 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Phish may be making their phinal appearance on this list: They earned $23 million in 2004 on what was billed as their last-ever tour, playing seventeen shows.
ON THE SIDE Phish sold 117,000 copies of their video collection, Undermind, and earned several hundred thousand dollars selling concert recordings through their Web site, livephish.net.
Last year's rank: 31

33. Fleetwood Mac
$17.2 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Fleetwood Mac earned $28 million in thirty-eight tour dates -- despite a paucity of sellouts.
ON CD Fans bought 620,000 back catalog CDs, with The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac leading sales.
Last year's rank: 12

34. Beyonce
$16.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD She earned $19 million touring with Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott.
ON CD Beyonce's solo debut, Dangerously in Love, sold 1.4 million copies, and her reunion with Destiny's Child, Destiny Fulfilled, sold 2 million.
ON THE SIDE Beyonce signed on for a lead role in the upcoming film The Pink Panther and lined up endorsement deals with L'Oreal, Tommy Hilfiger and Pepsi worth about $3 million. Her clothing line brought in an eight-figure advance.
Last year's rank: NA

35. Aerosmith
$16 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The group earned $450,000 a night in '04 -- about half of what it made on its last tour.
ON CD Last year's blues album Honkin' on Bobo moved about 550,00 copies.
ON THE SIDE Aerosmith's music is a hot commodity in advertising: Last year the group licensed "Dream On" to Buick for a reported $2 million.
Last year's rank: 25

36. U2
$13.9 MILLION

ON CD U2 get a $12 million payout from Interscope Records just for delivering an album -- which they did last year, with November's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. The CD has sold 2 million copies, and a deluxe edition sold another 400,000 (they earn as much as five dollars a unit on the latter). A megabucks tour begins in March.
ON THE SIDE Apple and U2 are reportedly splitting a fifty-dollar markup placed on a U2-branded iPod.
Last year's rank: NA

37. Britney Spears
$13.8 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Spears cut short her Onyx Hotel Tour, citing a knee injury -- but the $750,000-a-night grosses were enough to push her back onto our list (she fell off after a tour-free 2003).
ON CD Most artists would be grateful for sales that were low by Britney's standards: 1.3 million in the U.S. for In the Zone and 850,000 for a greatest-hits disc.
Last year's rank: NA

38. Kiss
$13.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD They earned $13.1 million on their farewell tour.
ON THE SIDE The Kiss licensing juggernaut -- from T-shirts to band-theme coffins -- brought in at least $5 million.
Last year's rank: 26

39. Rush
$13.3 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The Canadian power trio grossed $21 million on its latest U.S. tour -- more than Kiss or Ozzfest.
ON THE SIDE Sales were strong for the 2003 Rush in Rio DVD.
Last year's rank: NA

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40. Josh Groban
$12.1 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The operatic balladeer played seventy-five dates, performing before an average of 7,000 fans a night.
ON CD 3.7 million units sold.
ON THE SIDE He took in Hollywood cash for tunes featured in The Polar Express and Troy, and he sold 500,000 copies of his two concert DVDs.
Last year's rank: NA

41. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs
$11.7 MILLION

ON CD Combs' Bad Boy Records label had no breakout hit in 2004. But Combs is reportedly seeking a new distributor for the label (currently distributed by Universal), a deal that could be worth $30 million.
ON THE SIDE Combs' clothing label, Sean John, is growing fast -- it had wholesale revenues of about $225 million last year, with a likely profit margin of around ten percent.
Last year's rank: 38

42. R. Kelly
$11.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Kelly's tour with Jay-Z grossed $14 million before it was canceled amid feuding.
ON CD Child-porn charges haven't slowed Kelly down: His latest solo album, Happy People/U Saved Me, sold nearly 1 million copies -- not bad for a double CD.
ON THE SIDE Kelly continued his highly profitable career as a producer and songwriter, working with artists from Ruben Studdard to Twista.
Last year's rank: 36

43. Cher
$11.4 MILLION

ON THE ROAD After three years of what might be the longest-running farewell tour ever, Cher was still drawing in about 9,000 fans a night.
Last year's rank: 10

44. Dr. Dre
$11.4 MILLION

ON CD For artists connected to his Aftermath label, Dr. Dre charges a "friends and family" rate of $75,000 to produce a song. But that's just the beginning: Dre also earns a five percent production royalty as well as label profits. Dre had reason to be pleased by the sales of 50 Cent, G Unit, Lloyd Banks, D-12 and Obie Trice.
ON THE SIDE For outside projects such as the Gwen Stefani/Eve collaboration "Rich Girl," seeing the Doctor is expensive: Dre earns roughly $250,000 per track.
Last year's rank: 32

45. The Beatles
$11.4 MILLION

ON CD The Beatles saw big sales in 2004, boosted by Capitol's first-ever CD releases of the band's first four albums in their American formats. The total came to more than 2 milliON CDs sold, far more than any other act sold in catalog albums.
ON THE SIDE The writers' share of the Beatles' publishing royalties amounted to at least $10 million, and merchandising brought in additional profits.
Last year's rank: 19

46. Hilary Duff $10.7 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Duff made the transition from Disney Channel moppet to arena rocker in 2004, pulling in $19 million during her U.S. tour -- more than David Bowie, despite fewer shows.
ON CD Duff sold about 4 million albums.
ON THE SIDE She scored a $2 million salary for a role in the film A Perfect Man.
Last year's rank: NA

47. OutKast
$10.6 MILLION

ON CD OutKast continued to collect big royalties from 2003's 10-million-selling smash Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
ON THE SIDE Andre 3000 and Big Boi signed on to star in an HBO film, reportedly set to air in June.
Last year's rank: NA

48. John Mayer
$10.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Mayer's tour behind 2003's Heavier Things grossed $24 million in North America -- the bulk of his earnings for the year.
ON CD Heavier Things sold nearly 750,000 CDs, and his debut, Room for Squares, added 400,000 copies to the total.
Last year's rank: 33

49. Bob Dylan
$10.5 MILLION

ON THE ROAD The sixty-three-year-old legend played eighty-seven gigs, including twenty-two dates at minor-league baseball stadiums with Willie Nelson, and a three-night stand in Detroit that included a guest appearance by the White Stripes' Jack White.
ON CD Buoyed by Columbia's release of remastered versions of fifteen classic albums, Dylan sold 787,000 CDs from his catalog last year. He also earned $5.6 million in songwriting royalties.
ON THE SIDE Dylan's autobiographical book, Chronicles: Volume One, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award and sold more than 312,000 copies, earning Dylan royalties of at least $1 million. Meanwhile, he took in $1.25 million for his, um, work on a Victoria's Secret commercial that showed him surrounded by lithe models as "Love Sick" played in the background.

Last year's rank: NA

50. Alicia Keys
$10 MILLION

ON THE ROAD Fans kept fallin' for Keys' Ladies First Tour with Missy Elliott and Beyonce: It grossed $19 million in North America.
ON CD Diary of Alicia Keys sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. Keys earned additional royalties from her duet with Usher, "My Boo."
ON THE SIDE Keys' first book, Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics, generated as much as $500,000.
Last year's rank: NA

HOW WE DID IT
Success Secret: The "Moneymakers" list was compiled from extensive interviews with record-company executives, managers, lawyers, agents and publicists, and uses figures derived from Nielsen SoundScan, Pollstar, the Recording Industry Association of America, Amusement Business/Billboard, The Yellow Pages of Rock and ArtistDirect. Net figures reflect what performers take home after recording expenses have been deducted and managers, agents and lawyers have taken their cuts. All figures should be considered estimates. Robert LaFranco, a former editor at Forbes, wrote the 2004 "Rich List" in RS 944.