If there was any doubt that U2 was the biggest band in the world, one look at Billboard’s Top Money Makers list should do the trick. Based on actual revenue earned by music artists from touring and music sales, U2 hits #1 on the list, earning nearly double of what the next biggest money maker earned at #2.
Thanks to their sold-out U2 360° tour, the band is likely to earn the title for highest-grossing tour in history thanks to the high capacities of their 360-degree setup. The first tour as part of their current deal Live Nation, that includes touring, merchandise, and more, U2 is a clear lead at #1 with an estimated $108 million dollars in revenue.
Bruce Springsteen is at #2 thanks to his constant touring schedule, the release of a new studio album and Walmart-exclusive hits collection, as well as publishing revenue from his discography of self-written songs and over 2 million in digital sales, The Boss earned a cool $58 million last year.
Madonna came in at #3, earning an estimated $47 million thanks to international stadium sell-outs of her “Sticky & Sweet” tour as part of her new Live Nation deal, as well as her branding and licensing deals. International touring brought in the green for “Back In Black” singers AC/DC, who earned $43 million last year.
Sorry Ringling Brothers, but Britney Spears had the highest-grossing circus last year. Her sold-out “Circus” tour, along with album sales and over 7.5 million digital downloads, earned her over $38 million last year.
The rest of the top money makers according to Billboard include Pink ($36 million), the Jonas Brothers ($33 million), Coldplay ($27 million), Kenny Chesney ($26 million), and Metallica ($25 million).