The Money In Music: Top 10 Touring Artists Of The Decade

Celebrity Money, High Life

For an artist, nothing beats a live concert experience. No one knows this better than the road warriors featured on this list. These artists have made more money touring than any other artists in the world in the past decade. In case you are wondering how profitable tours are, stay put. Provided an artist is big and they have millions of fans eager to see them, you can be rest assured they will sell out shows when they announce tour dates.

Miley Cyrus is an excellent example of how profitable touring can be. In her Best of Both Worlds tour in 2007/8, Miley made $43.3 million after putting up 70 shows. Tickets sold out in record time as her TV show fans scrambled for a chance to see her perform live on her first ever music tour. Although Miley’s debut tour was impressive, she still has a long way to go when you compare her with the artists on this list.

The artists featured in this list have grossed over $230 million touring in the past decade.  These amounts are mind-blowing when you consider the fact that some of them have made that much money doing less than 250 shows. Just in case you’re wondering how your favourite artist makes that much touring, here’s a breakdown of how tours rake in millions.

According to billboard.com the main source of money comes from ticket sales. Depending on factors like concert venue, performer, seat location, type of concert, type of ticket e.t.c., ticket prices can range from $50 to over $1000.  When you consider popular artists have an average attendance of 20,000 to 60,000 people per show minus TV viewership, it is easy to see how touring artists make so much money. Please note we haven’t considered album and merchandise sales.

Without wasting any more time, let’s jump right into it and list the top 10 touring artists of the decade. Ranking will be based on the total gross, among single touring artists, such as number of shows, attendance and number of sold out shows.

10. Paul McCartney – Total gross: $238,755,522


Paul McCartney is one of the two knighted artists in this list. This English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist gained worldwide fame when he was a member of English Rock band The Beatles. When the band broke-up in 1970, McCartney decided to pursue a solo career. It’s this move that earns him a position in this list. In the past decade, he managed a total gross of over $238 million after staging 106 shows. He managed to sell out 85 shows attracting a total attendance of 1,870,274 people. This is impressive for a 71 year old who shows no signs of slowing down. Paul has more concert dates planned in 2014.


9. CHER – Total gross: $257,319,809


Cherilyn Sarkisan popularly known as Cher is an American singer and actress. She has been active in the entertainment industry for 50 years. She makes it to this list for grossing over $257 million in the past decade. Her success can be attributed to her most recent tours; The Farewell Tour which lasted for 3 years (2002-2005) and Cher at the Colosseum tour which also lasted for 3 years (2008- 2011). Both tours had a total attendance of 3,402,569 people. The tours featured 383 shows 171 of which were sold out.  The sky is the limit for Cher when it comes to touring considering she has the Dressed to Kill Tour set for 2014.


8. Neil Diamond – Total gross: $264,810,659


Neil Leslie Diamond popularly known as Neil Diamond is another touring warrior. Like Cher, he began his career in the 1960’s. To date, he has sold over 125 million records worldwide. In the past decade, Neil Diamond has had 288 concert dates with his fans grossing over $264 million in the process. His shows have had an impressive turnout; 3,845,603 people. Out of his total 288 shows in the past decade, 244 were sold out. This puts him in the same platform as Madonna in terms of soldout show ratios.


7. Tim McGraw – Total gross: $303,950,209


Samuel Timothy McGraw aka Tim McGraw also makes it to this list for his impressive touring gross of $303 million over the past decade. This country music star managed to gross such a tidy amount by staging 4 successful tours; Soul2Soul II Tour in 2006, Live Your Voice Tour in 2008, Emotional Traffic Tour in 2010 and Brothers of the Sun in 2012. The tours attracted 5,203,501 people. Tim managed to sell out 175 out of the 388 shows he lined up for his fans in his latest tours of the decade.


6. Billy Joel – Total gross: $418,421,266


William Martin Joel aka Billy Joel is a famous American singer, songwriter, pianist and composer. He holds the record for having one of the longest running successful concert arrangements in pop history. His Face-to-Face tours alongside Elton John begun in 1994 and continued till 2012. No wonder he managed to earn over $418 million in the past decade on concert dates. Billy Joel put up 241 shows out of which 213 were sold out. He recorded an impressive total attendance of 4,141,287 people. We will definitely be seeing more of the Piano Man this year considering he has shows scheduled to start in February 2014.


5. Kenny Chesney – Total gross: $477,931,760


American country music star Kenneth Arnold Chesney popularly known as Kenny has 14 gold certified albums under his belt. He can easily qualify as the most consistent touring artist in this list considering he has toured consistently every year since 2001. This explains why he has managed to gross over $477 million in the past decade. He has performed in a record 622 shows selling out 409. He holds the total attendance record in this list (9,210,288 people).


4. Celine Dion – Total gross: $536,593,262


Celine Dion is the only Canadian singer to make it to this list. Regardless, she needs no introduction. Dion was already a star at age 13. Three decades later and counting, she is still going strong with numerous tour dates and sold out shows. In the past decade, Dion has sold out 597 shows out of the total 792 she had lined up for her fans. She holds the record of sold out shows in this list. This has helped her gross over $536 million. Her four latest tours; A New Day (2003-2007), Taking Chances (2008-2009), Sans attendre (2013) and Celine (2011-2014) have attracted a total attendance of 4,099,963 people. Dion will definitely continue touring this year to conclude her Celine Tour.


3. Elton John – Total gross: $603,804,670


Sir Elton Hercules John is the other Knighted member in this list. Born in England in 1947, this English superstar singer has a record 30 albums under his belt. He has sold more than 300 million records worldwide making him one of the best selling artists of all times. He makes it to this list for grossing over $603 million from the 541 shows he has held over the past decade. He has an equally impressive total attendance figure of (5,789,833 people) and 470 sold out shows. He doesn’t show any signs of slowing down considering his 31st album (The Diving Board) is due to be released soon. He is expected to start touring soon in an effort to promote the album.


2. Bruce Springsteen – Total gross: $688,136,476


Bruce Springsteen or The Boss if you like is another American singer-songwriter with a touring record that deserves one of the top spots in this list.  His four tours of the last decade; Devils and Dust Tour (2005), Magic tour (2007), Working on a dream tour (2009) and The Wrecking Ball Tour (2012) grossed over $688 million. Springsteen sold out 248 shows out of the total 403 he had lined up for his fans. He also recorded an impressive total attendance of 8,605,238 people. He isn’t slowing down any time soon. He has already announced a 2014 tour.


1. Madonna – Total gross: $801,299,671


Madonna Louise Ciccone popularly known as Madonna takes the number one spot on this list with a total gross of $801 million. Madonna holds a Guinness book of world record as the best selling female recording artist of all times. She has sold over 300 million records worldwide. It took her 248 shows only in the past decade to gross over $800 million. 244 shows were sold out boosting the total attendance to 6,387,124 people.  She has had 4 successful tours in the past decade namely; Re-Invention World Tour in 2004, Confessions Tour in 2006, Sticky and Sweet Tour in 2008/9 and The MDNA Tour in 2012. Her latest tour (MDNA) performed the best grossing $305.2 million. She clearly deserves to be Number 1 in this list.