This year's list of top-earning musicians shows the importance of touring

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Taylor Swift was the highest earning musician in the world in 2016, according to a recently published report from Billboard.

Ms. Swift handily topped the music publication’s list of top earners in music, raking in $73.5 million in the past 12 months, according to Billboard’s calculations. The list’s second-place musician, country artist Kenny Chesney, gained a bit over half of Swift’s haul, with $40 million in income during the same period.

Billy Joel was the only musician to make the top five for two years in a row, earning the fourth slot in 2015 with $32 million. Surprisingly, most of his live revenue, $30 million, came from just 29 performances.

Most musicians who made the list did so because of touring income, with relatively small portions of their income coming from album sales, streaming income, and publishing royalties. Most musicians, that is, except for British songbird Adele, who made the top ten without any tour income at all.

Adele’s 25 blew away every other artist on the list in terms of album sales, with an estimated $16 million coming in just from the release of 25 last fall. Those sales are more than double Taylor Swift’s $7.2 million in album sales in the past 12 months.

The Rolling Stones took the opposite approach to Adele and Swift, coming in a close third place with $39 million based on a seemingly endless worldwide desire to hear classic Stones music live.

Artists likely to hit top slots on next year’s report include Rihanna, Drake, Beyonce, Radiohead, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, all of whom have either already released new material in 2016 or are about to, and who have all planned big worldwide tours in support of their new music.


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