The pandemic didn’t stop these artists from making music
2020 was a difficult year for everyone, including musicians. Over the course of the past 12 months, music's top earners collectively saw a decrease from $969 million to just $387 million in total revenue. With the absence of touring due to the pandemic, artists were forced to find alternative earning opportunities as well as a new way to connect with their fans around the world. And although there was no way for them to watch their favorite artists perform live, the pandemic proved to provide a boost to streaming while fans listened from the safety of their own homes.
That's why Billboard took a look back at the past year and compiled financial data for the top artists in the US. Analyzing streaming, sales, publishing, and even touring, they created their annual Money Makers list consisting of the highest paid musicians of 2020, who all made it work despite the global pandemic.
Read on to find out which musicians made the list…
Lil Baby's massive year came thanks to his No. 1 album "My Turn," which landed 12 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100. His hugely popular release earned 6.2 billion streams which helped bring in $9.1 million in streaming royalties in addition to another $152,000 in sales. He also earned over $2 million in publishing and $253,000 for the two concerts he was able to perform prior to the pandemic.
YoungBoy Never Broke Again will most likely never be broke again thanks to his past year. His earnings came almost exclusively from streaming, bringing in $10 million for the 7 billion times his songs were either listened to in audio or video format. He brought in another $126,000 in sales and $1.7 million in publishing. He also earned about $129,000 in the few shows he was able to perform before COVID hit.
The Beatles proved their popularity is just as great as ever in 2020, entering Billboard's Money Makers list for the first time. Streaming earned the group $5.1 million while physical sales earned them even more, totaling $5.2 million. The group is said to have sold 671,000 copies of their albums, a majority of which were vinyl reissues that typically have a higher price point than CDs. And while the band clearly did not tour, they still made an impressive $12.9 million.
Queen had an incredible year thanks to both streaming numbers and lucrative physical sales. While they generated 1.2 billion on-demand audio streams, they also made a massive profit from sales of the rerelease of their $500 limited-edition colored vinyl Studio Collection box set of their 15 albums. On top of that, Queen owns their masters and wrote all of their original music, making the band’s cut even greater than usual. Overall, the group earned $5.5 million from streaming, $5.3 million from sales, and $2.4 million in publishing.
In 2020, Drake brought in almost 8 billion streams between on-demand audio streaming, on-demand video, and web radio streams, making him the No. 1 overall streaming artist. The impressive number earned him $11.7 million. He also brought in $635,000 in physical sales as well as $1.9 million in publishing.
Billie Eilish brought in a whopping $14.7 million throughout 2020, thanks to massive earnings in all of Billboard’s income categories. Billie even earned money in the touring category, bringing in $1 million from the three shows of her Where Do We Go? World Tour she was able to perform prior to the pandemic. She also racked up hundreds of millions of streams, worth $5.9 million, as well as $2.1 million in sales. Additionally, Billie and her brother Finneas, who she primarily collaborates with, also brought in $5.7 million from their publishing royalties.
Iconic group the Eagles brought in over $16 million, in part thanks to the 10 shows that they were able play before the pandemic hit. From those concerts, the group grossed $33 million and netted $11.4 million in income. The band also earned $2.7 million in streaming, bolstered by 744 million web radio plays. The Eagles also saw almost a million dollars in sales as well as $1.2 million in publishing royalties.
Céline Dion’s income in 2020 came almost exclusively from touring, despite the pandemic. She was able to perform 23 shows on her Courage World Tour before COVID shut things down and in that time she was able to earn $17 million. Her touring earnings put her at the top of the list of live touring revenue generators for the year, which makes sense considering most tours didn’t even get the chance to begin. The remainder of Céline’s income came from royalties from recorded masters and publishing income.
Post Malone is one of the only other artists besides Céline Dion who was able to make a significant amount of money touring prior to the pandemic. He brought in $12.4 million across 20 tour dates that were able to take place before the live industry shut down. Streaming also earned Post Malone $8.1 million, in part thanks to over 4 million on-demand audio streams. Additionally, he made $712,500 in sales and $2 million from publishing royalties.
Taylor Swift earned the number one spot on the 2020 Money Makers list and never even stepped foot on a stage during the year. Thanks to Taylor's ownership of the recorded masters of her two 2020 albums, "folklore" and "evermore," she was able to take home 46% of her sales and streaming royalties. Her ownership helped make her the No. 1 artist in sales and the No. 1 mover of digital albums, digital tracks, and on-demand audio streams. Overall, Taylor brought in $10.6 million in streaming as well as $10 million in sales. Her publishing royalties also earned her an additional $3.2 million in income.