Billboard recently released their list of the Top 40 highest earning musical artists of 2013, factoring in both album sales and touring numbers. Some of the top spots were obvious: Taylor Swift came in at #1 with $39.7 million earned, Justin Timberlake at #2 with $31.4 million and Beyoncé at $24.4 million. But the Billboard Top 40 isn’t all contemporary pop-rockers. As evidenced by this list, there’s still a spot for established “classic” acts—several spots, in fact. The following acts have been around for years—decades, even—and they’re still raking in millions from both new albums and world tours, at times outperforming some of the most popular modern artists.
11 Rush - $9.1 Million
The Canadian progressive rock trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart came in at #35 for this year’s list, earning more than the likes of Miranda Lambert, Lil’ Wayne and even Eminem. Though Rush didn’t put out a studio album last year—2012’s Clockwork Angels was their most recent—the band has been touring almost non-stop, starting the European leg of their tour last summer and releasing a live album in November. Add their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on top of that and 2013 was a pretty good year for the trio.
10 Elton John - $9.4 Million
Piano rocker Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known as Elton John, released his latest studio album The Diving Board in September of last year. The record topped out at #3 on the U.K. album chart, making it his highest-charting solo record in England in over a decade, and at #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 it was his best-selling in the United States since 1976. Since November 8th, Elton has been touring worldwide in support of the record, with his last scheduled performance set for December 9th in Ireland, over a year after The Diving Board’s release. He made #33 on Billboard’s Money Makers list.
9 Jimmy Buffett - $9.4 Million
The Mayor of Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffett, was #32 on Billboard’s list. Buffett, 67, released his 29th studio album, Songs from St. Nowhere, last August, and while the record received mixed reviews—Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that it was a cringe-worthy listen while sober—it nonetheless peaked at #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and #1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart. He toured in support of the album last year and will embark on another in 2014.
8 New Kids on the Block - $9.9 Million
Coming in at #29 are the New Kids on the Block, who initially rose to fame in the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s and staged a successful comeback in 2008, later touring with the Backstreet Boys as NKOTBSB in 2011. The pop group—“boy band” no longer seems a fitting label—released 10, their sixth studio album but tenth overall if one includes compilations, in April of 2013. It charted highest at #6 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at #8 on the Canadian Albums Chart. Currently, the New Kids are touring with former boy bands 98° and Boyz II Men across North America, where they have sold out all but a few of their shows so far.
7 Celine Dion - $12.8 Million
Canadian diva Celine Dion made Billboard’s list at #23, outranking John Mayer and even Kanye West. Dion, best known for singing the anthem “My Heart Will Go On” for Titanic in 1997, spent most of the 2000s performing at a successful nightly theatre show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, returning to touring in 2008 in support of her 2007 albums D’elles and Taking Chances. Her latest tour, Sans attendre, was fairly brief as it catered solely to Francophone audiences in Belgium and France. Shortly before embarking on the nine-show excursion, she also released an English language album, Loved Me Back to Life, which was the second-best selling record in Canada for 2013.
6 The Eagles - $13.03 Million
The men behind “Hotel California” and “Tequila Sunrise” released a comprehensive documentary, History of the Eagles, in January 2013, following it up with a massive, 77-date tour that spans from July 6th to July 2nd this year. Frontman Don Henley told that the tour could extend into 2015 and might be the group’s last, which is no doubt propelling ticket sales. They came in at #22 on Billboard’s list.
5 Paul McCartney - $13.8 Million
Former Beatle Paul McCartney likely received a decent boost in popularity with the recent celebration of the Fab Four’s 50th anniversary, but it didn’t hurt that he also released and promoted a new album, aptly titled New, in October 2013 as well. With both rock and electronic influences, New peaked at #3 on U.S. and U.K. charts and made the #1 spot in Norway. Earlier that year, he embarked on Out There!, a 33-show world tour which will run until mid-April of 2014. With former bandmate Ringo Starr, he also celebrated the Beatles’ first performances on the Ed Sullivan Show at the Ed Sullivan Theater last month, and “Cut Me Some Slack,” his collaboration with former Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, won the Grammy for Best Rock Song. He made the 21st spot on Billboard’s Money Makers list.
4 George Strait - $16 Million
The 61-year-old country artist’s #15 position on the Money Makers list beats out Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, Michael Bublé and even Jay Z! Last May, he released Love Is Everything, his 28th studio album in a nearly 40-year career. Though the album didn’t receive universal praise, it nonetheless peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 and, naturally, made the top spot on the country charts. Earlier, in January, he set off on what is intended to be his final tour, The Cowboy Rides Away, supported by his Ace in the Hole Band. The tour comprises two legs and 47 shows, and Strait his expected to perform his final show in Dallas this June. It has received glowing reviews all around, with Billboard’s Thom Duffy comparing him to Frank Sinatra.
3 Fleetwood Mac - $19.1 Million
One Direction, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber ain’t got nothin’ on Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The soft rock quartet—a quintet once again now that former keyboardist Christie McVie has rejoined the band—pulled in 17.4 million from their 2013 world tour, according to Billboard. They also put out Extended Play, their first record of new material since 2003’s Say What You Will, in April. They made the #10 spot on the Money Makers list.
2 The Rolling Stones - $26.2 Million
To be honest, it's not at all shocking that the Stones would end up on this list and as high up as they are at that. At the #5 spot, they came out ahead of Beyoncé and Maroon 5, who were ranked at #6 and #7, respectively. From November 2012 to July 2013, Messrs. Jagger, Richards, Wood and Watts celebrated the band’s 50th anniversary, playing 30 shows across Europe and North America and featuring an intimidating lineup of guest artists that ranged from the likes of David Grohl and Taylor Swift to Win Butler of Arcade Fire and blues-rock duo The Black Keys. They also put out a live album and corresponding concert DVD/Blu Ray, Hyde Park Live, in July and November, respectively. The Stones have already set out on their 2014 tour, 14 On Fire, starting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Unlike the North America and Europe-focused 50th anniversary tour, 14 On Fire will see the band playing in the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.
1 Bon Jovi - $29.4 Million
Though rockers Bon Jovi didn’t make the #1 spot for earners this year, they nearly matched Justin Timberlake’s $31.5 million. 2013 was a fruitful year for the band. They released their twelfth studio album, What About Now, in March. The record made the top on the Billboard 200 as well as others and was certified Gold in Australia, Canada, Germany and the U.K. Bon Jovi also set out on a 102-show tour, Because We Can (named for What About Now’s lead single), that spanned nearly the whole year and most of the world’s continents. According to Pollstar, 60 shows netted the tour $142.1 million.
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