By Ray Waddell
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - If anyone had any doubt that touring is
where the money is in today's music business, a look at Billboard's top
moneymakers of 2008 should hammer the point home.
Regardless of genre, retail sales or radio play, each of the 20 acts
on the moneymakers list toured last year. For almost all of them,
touring generated the most revenue. And in a year when recorded-music
sales declined yet again, many earned more at the box office than ever
Madonna was No. 1 on the list with $242.2 million. She had the
50th-best-selling album in the country and ranked 14th on the list of
digital track sellers -- but had the highest-earning 2008 tour.
Madonna was followed on the moneymakers list by Bon Jovi with $157.2
million, Bruce Springsteen ($156.3 million), the Police ($110 million),
Celine Dion ($99.2 million), Kenny Chesney ($90.8 million), Neil
Diamond ($82.2 million), Rascall Flatts ($63.5 million), Jonas Brothers
($62.6 million) and Coldplay ($62.2 million).
The top-five moneymakers are also the five acts that earned the most
on tour, and in the same order, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Those questioning whether Madonna rates the reported 10-year, $120
million multi-rights deal with concert promoter Live Nation might
reconsider. Madonna's Sticky & Sweet tour took in $229.9 million at
the box office, although the extravagant production might have cost up
to 40% of that gross, according to industry estimates. The margin is
much better on tour merchandise, where Madonna probably raked in more
than $18 million in sales, not counting her licensing business.
Of course, nothing helps reduce tour production costs like more
touring. So Madonna will perform another run of concerts this summer --
25 shows in the U.K. and Europe -- which will add to the take of the
top-grossing tour by a female or solo artist.
Outside of the U.K., all of Madonna's concerts will be in stadiums,
so she'll gross several million dollars per night. By fall, Sticky
& Sweet will have run for 80 shows and earned a place in the
top-five grossing tours in history.
(Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters)