Forbes recently released its highest-paid musicians of the year list for 2013, and noted that musicians’ main source of revenue in a world where almost no one pays for music anymore is generated through touring. For the most part, the more shows the artists played, the higher up they ended on the list. High income can also be a better reflection of the skill of an artist’s management rather than actual popularity. From an earnings perspective, however, there’s no question over the winner of this battle’s latest round. The honor goes to Madonna, who pulled in $125 million over the past year, making her the highest-paid musician in the world. The bulk of Madge’s millions came from the tail end of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million. She augments her income with heady merchandise sales at concerts, as well as her Material Girl clothing line and Truth or Dare fragrance.
Gaga ranks second with $80 million; she grossed over $160 million on her latest tour before succumbing to a hip injury. Had she been able to finish, she would have likely topped $200 million. Her “ARTPOP”album was released after the end of our scoring period, but should give her a boost on next year’s list. She could easily reach the No. 1 spot with a successful set of concerts, the main driver for most major artists’ earnings. A look at the rest of the list underscores the importance of live performances in today’s music world. Bon Jovi ranks third with $79 million, most of it from the appropriately named Because We Can Tour. Road warrior Toby Keith pulled in $65 million to land the No. 4 slot, while Coldplay parlayed seven-figure nightly grosses into a $64 million payday.