No matter how odd that seems, the BBC says it’s true. In fact, Michael Jackson barely cracked the top 20.

It shows why the Rolling Stones, at their age, still feel the need to tour.

With the way that revenue comes to the musical performer, it’s touring that lines their pockets best, no matter from where the performer originates.

U2 raked in more money than any other music act in the US in 2009, according to Billboard magazine.

The music journal said U2 made $109m (£71m) from touring, record sales and other royalties – almost twice as much as the second best, Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen took home $58m (£38m), followed by Madonna with $47m (£31m) and rockers AC/DC with $44m (£29m).

U2 are in the middle of a mammoth world tour and touring is the most lucrative activity for artists, Billboard said.

The 360 Degree tour is the most expensive ever staged, but is also playing to larger crowds because they are performing in the round.

A string of younger pop stars – Britney Spears, Pink and the Jonas Brothers – came next on the list.

Coldplay were the most successful British group, at number eight, with takings of $27m (£18m).

Michael Jackson was the top earner from CD and ringtone royalties in 2009, but only made it to number 20 on the overall list, highlighting the importance of touring to a star’s pay packet.

 

Perhaps the next time you think about making the choice of seeing some classic rock band live, or buying their entire catalog on CD, and finding that the latter is much less expensive, you will understand it has been that way for quite some time, though not always. It’s only been in the last 15 or so years where tickets to a live performance needed to be purchased on a time plan.

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