The top paid country musicians of 2020 occupied four slots in Billboard’s latest Top 40 U.S. Money Makers ranking, down from eight last year. With the shift in the music landscape – less touring and more digital streaming and physical sales performance – rock and country music gave away their spots to R&B/hip-hop acts.
On this list, we celebrate the four country musicians who made the cut – Taylor Swift, Luke Combs, George Strait, and Blake Shelton.
1. Taylor Swift ($23.8M)
Although Taylor Swift is a pop phenomenon right now, her roots are still country, and it’s undeniable that she has dominated last year’s music scene. She earned her revenue solely from the release of her two albums – folklore and evermore – though this number has significantly dropped from her $99.6 million in 2018. Nevertheless, Swift still recorded top sales and also snatched the number one spot in the overall top paid musicians of 2020.
In addition to that, she also secured the number 1 and number 2 spots in sales and streaming royalties credited to her ownership position (after breaking it off with Scooter Braun), guaranteeing 46% in royalties compared to 33% for most artists who don’t own their masters.
2. Luke Combs ($9.2M)
Landing number 16 in Billboard’s ranking, Luke Combs is the top-performing country music artist (overlooking Swift) in sales. On top of that, he also climbed the ranks from number 35 in 2019.
His numbers last year were definitely exceptional – 102.26 million digital streams for the 2020 What You See Is What You Get deluxe version in a single week, breaking his own record for the largest streaming week for a country album. Not to mention that this album also won him Album of the Year at the 2020 ACM Awards. But aside from that, Luke was also a strong radio airplay contender raking over 804.4 million streams on web radio airplay and 1.5 million spins in terrestrial radio airplay. Over half of Combs’ revenue came from his streaming royalties amounting to $5.5 million.
As of now, Luke Combs is up on-stage again performing. You can check out his tour dates on his official website.
3. George Strait ($6.9M)
The “King of Country” is still going strong ever since he entered the scene in 1981, securing the 26th spot in the rankings. According to Billboard, George Strait is one of the few artists who earned significant touring income pre-pandemic, grossing over $12.3 million for five shows. And for a country artist who started way before digital streaming, he generated over 595.7 million plays on web radio, bringing his total streams to 1.6 billion.
As for his tours this 2021, we’re still waiting for news on the rescheduled dates. But for fans, you can catch him on ATLive presented by Mercedes-EQ this coming November!
4. Blake Shelton ($6.7M)
Following George Strait closely at the 28th spot, Blake Shelton racked over 1.6 billion in combined streams which is considered strong for the genre. He also recorded 749,000 in track sales and, like Strait, earned most of his revenue with the pre-pandemic concert scene. From the 12 shows that grossed over $11.5 million in ticket sales, Shelton took home $3.9 million. He and his now-wife Gwen Stefani also released “Happy Anywhere,” which dropped last year on July 20.
Blake is also back on the road for tours, so check out his dates on his official website.
All revenue figures noted for the top paid country musicians of 2020 are Billboard estimates, and revenue from livestream concerts, merchandising, synchronization, as well as sponsorships were not included.
Blake Shelton, George Strait, Luke Combs, taylor swift
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