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How Do Artists Earn From Albums, Tours, Merch, And Gigs

Published Wed Jun 12 2019 By Dibas Pratap Basnet
How Do Artists Earn From Albums, Tours, Merch, And Gigs

Concerts and tours are one of the main sources of income for all the artists in the world. Even with the recent boom in the streaming industry, the richest artist in the world still earn most of their money from touring, concerts and merchandise sales.    

In fact, touring and gigs are expected to be a $31 billion industry by 2022 as per data from Digitalmusicnews. Touring is almost integral to the artist’s revenue stream, a report by CMW said that artists got only 12% of the total revenue generated by the music industry in 2017 which was around $43 billion. To add to this, they also earn from the merchandise sales from the tour.  

Basebander has reported that bands and solo artists alike can earn more amount of money from tours and concerts rather than streaming or merchandise sales. The same source also reports that while the highest earner from streaming services, Drake only got around $23.7 million from streaming his tour with Future generated more than $85 million.

The main source of earnings from tours is ticket sales. Ticket sales account for most of the revenue generated from tours along with merchandise and confectionary items sold at the event.

Live Aid, which is considered by many as the greatest live musical event in history raised over $127 million with bands like Queen, U2, David Bowie among several other icons performing at the event. 

We have listed some of the highest earning musicians of 2017 below

Highest Paid Musicians Of 2017 And Their Tour Revenue

U2

The Irish rock band U2 have been rock stars since 1976 and their incredible tenure and fan following in the industry has still not faded. As a matter of fact, they were the highest paid musicians of 2017 earning around $54.4 million in total in 2017.

U2's performing at a venue for their Joshua Tree tour
U2's performing at a venue for their Joshua Tree tour

Out of their total earnings, they ranked in $1.1 million from albums sold, $624,000 from streaming music, $705,000 from publishing and whopping $52 million from gigs. This shows almost 95% of their revenue comes from touring and concerts. 

Garth Brooks

Known to many as the premier artist of country music, Brooks earned over $52.2 million in 2017. Brooks is one of the best-selling artists in history and it is no surprise that he came in second of top earners in the music industry. The bulk of his earnings was thanks to his touring which generated over $46.7 million.

Brooks performing a concert in 2017
Brooks performing at a concert in 2017 

In addition to this, he generated more than $4.8 million from album sales, $569,000 from streaming sites and $190,000 from publishing.

Metallica

Heavy metal legends Metallica come in third of the highest earning musicians of 2017. The metal band is no strangers when it comes to generating millions of dollars as made clear by their Monsters of Rock concert in 1991 which had over 1,600,000 people in attendance.

Metallica frontman James Hetfield performing in front of 1.6 million people in Moscow
Metallica frontman James Hetfield performing in front of 1.6 million people in Moscow

In 2017 they earned around $43.2 million out of which $30.7 million was earned touring. TO add to this incredible revenue their album sales totaled around $8.7 million and they earned $2.2 million from streaming to go with $1.6 million from publishing. 

Bruno Mars

Popstar Bruno Mars has been one of the highest earning musicians for a very long time and 2017 was no different for the star as he raked in around $40.7 million. He earned $33.9 million from touring alone.

Bruno Mars earned $33.9 million from tours alone
Bruno Mars earned $33.9 million from tours alone

Similarly, his revenues from album sales were around $2.6 million, $2.8 million in sales from streaming music, and $1.4 million from publishing.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran aka Teddy is one of the premier artists of our generation earning over $31.3 million in 2017 alone. Breaking down his income, he earned $4 million from album sales, $4.2 million in sales from streaming music, and $3.2 million from publishing, in addition to $19.9 million from touring which is more than half of his total revenue.

Sheeran performing in Bangkok as part of his 2017 tour
Sheeran performing in Bangkok as part of his 2017 tour

Sheeran’s songs took the tops spot in the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice in 2017 but the primary source of his income was touring.

Lady Gaga

More affectionately known as Gagaloo by her fans, Lady Gaga earned around $29.7 million in 2017. Gaga, known for her stage persona and eccentric performances generated $26.5 million from touring alone.

Gaga earned $29.7 million from touring in 2017
Gaga earned $29.7 million from touring in 2017

She also earned around $1.2 million in album sales, $1.2 million in sales from streaming music and $757.3 thousand from publishing.

Guns N’ Roses

Once called the most dangerous group in music by many, GNR almost returned to their former glory of the 80s and 90s with a reunion. They headlined many arenas all over the world as part of their Not In This Lifetime tour from which they earned around $25.9 million, earning $27.8 million in total in 2017.

GNR frontman Axl Rose and lead guitarist Slash performing at a venue in 2017
GNR frontman Axl Rose and lead guitarist Slash performing at a venue in 2017

To add to this, GNR generated $655,000 in album sales, $755,000 in sales from streaming services, and $524,000 via publishing.

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