What did a year with no live gigs do to the fortunes of rock’s biggest stars? Well, they definitely took a hit, but the lucky few who managed to get some live dates in before the pandemic shut things down did well, as did sales and streaming of new releases and catalog reissues.
Among veteran artists, The Eagles were tops. They came in fourth on Billboard‘s ranking of the highest-paid musicians of 2020 in the U.S., behind pop superstars Taylor Swift, Post Malone and Celine Dion. That’s because they were lucky enough to have played 10 shows before the pandemic hit, netting them about $11 million. The rest of their $16.3 million paycheck came from streaming radio and sales and streaming of recordings.
Queen rank number seven with earnings of $13.2 million, thanks to royalties from record sales, publishing and massive streaming numbers. In fact, their on-demand audio streams outranked every other veteran act on the list.
The Beatles ranked number eight with $12.9 million thanks to physical sales of their albums — most of which were pricey vinyl reissues — plus an impressive 1.8 billion streams, which Billboard says is rare for a rock band.
Just out of the top 10, AC/DC came in at #13 with $10.1 million, thanks to sales of its 2020 album Power Up, its back catalog and nearly 1.5 billion streams
Here’s how some other veteran acts ranked in terms of their U.S. paychecks:
18. Metallica, $9 million
20. Pink Floyd, $8.8 million
29. Fleetwood Mac, $6.6 million (thanks to that viral “Dreams” TikTok video)
33. KISS, $6 million
34. Rolling Stones, $5.96 million
39. Billy Joel, $5.49 million
40. Aerosmith, $5.35 million
Globally, though, Queen soar to number one in the rankings.
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