Forbes Celebrity Valuations

World's Best-Paid Music Stars

Lacey Rose, 09.22.08, 06:00 AM EDT

There's still plenty of money to be made in the recording industry--just ask these top 10 earners.


If the perennial rumors about the death of the music business are true, nobody's told the Police. Or Beyoncé. Or Madonna.

Indeed, though there's no denying music's old business model has taken a massive hit in recent years--blame it on piracy, the Web or the advent of the recordable CD--there's still plenty of money to be made in the music industry.

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In fact, the 10 stars on our list of the world's top-earning musicians raked in a combined $500 million between June 1, 2007 and June 1, 2008, thanks in large part to lucrative tours, endorsement contracts and all-encompassing deals. (Hip-hop stars have been ranked separately.)

In Pictures: World's Best-Paid Music Stars

Topping the list: the Police, who banked $115 million over the course of the year, proving the big money is made on the road rather than in the recording studio.

Once famous for not getting along, the timeless rockers reunited in 2007 to perform their early hit "Roxanne" at the Grammy Awards. From there, the band fronted by Sting set out on a sold out and highly lucrative five-continent reunion tour. Some 4 million fans, both young and old, forked over a collective $200 million in tickets to see the trio perform. Not bad for a trio that got their start in the late 1970s.

Singer-turned-brand Beyoncé Knowles comes in second, raking in $80 million during the 12-month period.

Once a Destiny's Child group member, the Houston native went solo in 2003 and has since released two platinum albums. She's also built a successful entertainment empire that includes fashion, film and publishing deals. She has found still more time to sell $50 million in tickets on a recent tour, take a lead role as Etta James in the upcoming flick Cadillac Records and shill for a slew of brands, including L'Oréal, American Express (nyse: AXP - news - people ) and an Armani fragrance.

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Nabbing the third spot on our list is sometimes controversial--and always popular--Toby Keith, who earned $48 million this past year. The country music star, famous for songs like "How Do You Like Me Now?"and"Beer for my Horses," reached the impressive sum with lengthy concert tours, a lucrative endorsement deal with Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ) and a chain of successful restaurants that bare his name. The patriotic rocker writes all of his own songs and owns his recording label as well.

Justin Timberlake comes in fourth with earnings of $44 million.

Like his peers, the boy bander turned tabloid staple has diversified his brand, dabbling in music (2 million fans paid $100 million to see his latest tour), commercials (appeared in a Pepsi (nyse: PEP - news - people ) Super Bowl commercial), fashion (co-founded fashion label William Rast) and hospitality (co-owns restaurants Destino and Southern Hospitality). The "Sexy Back" star also signed a development deal with MTV and heads his own music label.

Rounding out the top five is Madonna, who took home $40 million during the year.

The onetime material girl has capitalized on her talent and bold-face name by cutting a mega deal with concert promotions giant Live Nation (nyse: LYV - news - people ), worth a reported $120 million over 10 years. The deal encompasses Madonna's future music and music-related businesses, including touring, albums, merchandising, DVDs and music-reality film and TV projects.

Not bad for heavyweights of an industry on the decline.

In Pictures: World's Best-Paid Music Stars

Reporting by David K. Randall.


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