Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney Top Billboard's Money-Maker List

The reigning queen of country raked in nearly $40 million in 2013

Taylor Swift performs in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk/TAS/Getty Images for TAS
March 11, 2014 8:20 AM ET

Taylor Swift owned the top spot of Billboard's highest-paid musicians of 2013, raking in $39,699,576.60, which was plenty to best second and third place finishers Kenny Chesney and Justin Timberlake who earned $32,956,240.70 and $31,463,297.03.

Using data from Nielsen SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems – which track sales and spins on TV, radio and internet, respectively – and their own Boxscore stats, Billboard calculated artists' total U.S. earnings from touring, recorded-music sales, publishing royalties and revenue from digital music and video streaming (money earned from sponsorships, merch and syncs weren't included due to a lack of data).

Swift dominated other artists in every area. Her recent Red Tour took in an estimated $30 million, while the singer notched nearly 10 million downloads and ranked fifth in streaming royalties. Meanwhile, Chesney bolstered his album earnings with $90 million from his recent No Shoes Nation tour, topping 1 million in attendance for his 10th tour in a row.

Find out how Taylor Swift is leading the rebounding concert business

Timberlake stormed back in a big way in 2013 with his two-part album The 20/20 Experience, which generated more than $5 million in royalties from digital downloads and streaming. The album's first single "Suit & Tie," which featured Jay Z, scored the highest first-week plays in the Mainstream Top 40 chart's history, while the rapper and pop star's joint summer tour earned $60 million from just 12 shows (Timberlake grossed $43 million on his own over 39 shows).

Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones rounded out the top five, earning approximately $29 million and $26 million and generating most of their money from touring. Bon Jovi still raked it in on the digital download front, though, and their 1986 anthem "Livin' on a Prayer" even returned to the Hot 100 this year thanks to a viral video. The Stones in particular scored big with their 50th anniversary tour, selling out every show on the trek, which AEG Live reportedly earned the rights to promote for a price tag around $80 million.

Ahead of the surprise release of her chart-topping last album, Beyoncé grossed $19.9 million from her 132-date Mrs. Carter Show World Tour to help put her at number six with $24 million, while Maroon 5 followed with $22,284,754.07 thanks to a headlining slot on the Honda Civic Tour and continued chart domination with "Payphone," "One More Night" and "Daylight," which comprised for 7.6 million track sales worth $1.4 million.

Country star Luke Bryan pushed 2.7 million albums and 7.6 million digital tracks, and earned $15.4 million from touring to put him at number eight with $22,142,235.98; and Pink garnered $15.1 million from the U.S. dates of her latest tour to place her at number nine with $20 million. Fleetwood Mac capped off the top 10, earning $19,123,101.98, $17.4 million of that coming from their 2013 world tour behind the 35th anniversary reissue of their seminal album Rumours.

You can check out Billboard's complete list of music's top earners and see how it stacks up to Forbes' own list of the top earners in music, which Madonna topped back in November.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »