Madonna Was The Highest-Paid Musician of 2012, Topping Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber

Carl Williott | February 22, 2013 10:46 am

All hail the Material Girl! Madonna tops Billboard‘s annual Money Makers list this year, after pulling in $34.6 million dollars, almost all of which came from her blockbuster MDNA tour (93.5% to be exact). As music sales dwindle in the digital age and streams (which pay nano-cents on the dollar) become the main player, touring is ever more key to an artist’s financial success. Which is why in the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, you find Bruce Springsteen ($33.4M) and Roger Waters ($21.2M). According to the magazine, concerts accounted for 68.9% of revenue for the 40 artists on the list, with the Top 10 averaging 84.2%.

What’s interesting is the inverse relationship between touring and album sales. Older, established acts who no longer move units rake in loads of cash from their huge tours — just see the Top 3 above. But then newer acts on the list made most of their money from sales. For instance, Taylor Swift topped last year’s list, but she still made the cut this year (#15) despite having no US concert earnings in 2012. Adele also didn’t have touring revenue last year but landed at the 11th spot. Likewise, #39 Mumford & Sons and #33 Maroon 5 both made less than $1 million from touring.

That said, there were some younger acts who bucked the trend. Specifically, Justin Bieber, who closed out the Top 10, made about $10M from touring and about $6M from music sales. One Direction (#30) nearly split their sales and touring revenue, while Drake (#24) made the bulk of his profits from touring.

Head here to see the full list.