Taylor Swift Was The Top Paid Musician In 2015

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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).


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