Taylor Swift Was The Top Paid Musician In 2015

Andrew H. Walker/REX/Shutterstock
While the music industry never tires of telling you that it’s dying, some musicians are still doing as well as ever.

Billboard just published its list of the top 40 money-making musicians of 2015. While album sales are indeed plummeting, live music sales are stronger than ever. The biggest-earning acts were all big tourers in 2015. And though the top 10 were mostly legacy acts, a familiar name tops the charts.

Taylor Swift earned a whopping $73.5 million last year, with the vast majority ($61.7 million) coming from touring. Her album sales were a paltry $7.2 million, publishing (licensing to commercials or other media) $4.1 million, and streaming only $564,000. While that might be hurt by her refusal to play ball with Spotify, the rest of the numbers tell a stark story: Musicians really only make money touring. Which makes intuitive sense, as the live experience is the only thing for which a musician can guarantee exclusivity.

Her ranking is further evidence for what we all already knew: 2015 was Taylor Swift's year.

Some of the rest of the acts are pretty surprising. The next closest musician was Kenny Chesney, who made $39.8 million. Nobody thinks of Billy Joel, fourth on the list, as being a big moneymaker, but his presence is consistent with the domination of legacy acts in the top 10. Swift and Adele are the only two women in the top 10. Both were buoyed by huge albums and lengthy tours.

Still, the best way to make a lot of money seems to be to have been hugely popular a few decades ago, and then have your fans grow up enough to where they have enough money to shell out for stadium concerts.

Other notables on the list include Madonna (14), Britney Spears (22), The Weeknd (28), Ariana Grande (29), Drake (32), and Nicki Minaj (39).

More from Music

There's a time in every young singer's life when a very important decision must be made: to record a country collaboration, or not to record a country ...
Drake just released his short film "Please Forgive Me," and there's something missing. The 23-minute video appeared on Apple Music early Monday morning...
Whether you think he's a rap god or a rapping jackass, you can't deny that Lil Wayne has a way with words. How, exactly, you describe that "way" is ...
Alice Tan Ridley's powerful voice is finally getting some time in the spotlight. After years of singing in New York City subway stations to support her ...
You might know Emily Blunt as the actress who is starring in The Girl on the Train and the live-action Mary Poppins movie. But at one point, people had a...
Yesterday, Demi Lovato took the stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City with one particular message in mind. Before her performance, she ...
surprise number 1 @mileycyrus @billyidol #iheartfestival A video posted by Ryan Seacrest (@ryanseacrest) on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:24pm PDT Miley Cyrus...
Is anything better than plugging in your headphones, firing up your music app of choice, and jamming out to that brand-new song you're obsessed with? Don...
The Ronettes had it all wrong. The best part of breaking up is not the making up. That rarely happens, and when it does, it often leads to more breaking up...
Have you ever thought of a celebrity — whether it's your celebrity crush, celebrity best friend, or celebrity foe — and imagined what it would be like to ...
It might be hard to believe that 2000s nostalgia is a thing. As in, people are yearning for some brightly colored, faux-leather flared pants. People miss ...
Solange is taking a page from her sister's book. The singer, designer, and younger sister of Beyoncé is teasing mysterious brand-new content on her ...
Adele is here for you, Brangelina. The singer dedicated "two hours of misery" (her words, not ours) to the divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at her...
You probably have at least one friend who always knows the newest and most amazing music. Said friend likely has headphone hair and takes more pride in her...