You'll have to forgive Madonna, Celine Dion, and Beyonce Knowles if that question shows up on their full, rich lips today, as the three superstar entertainers have given new meaning to the term "well-(high)heeled."
Forbes has just released its list of the top-earning musicians of the last 12 months (June '08-June '09), and according to the business mag's data, which estimates total income generated by recording sales, song publishing, concert tours, and endorsement deals, the top three slots in all of musicdom's money-making this past year go to the three aforementioned divas, with estimated hauls of $110 million (Madonna), $100 million (Dion), and $87 million (Knowles).
After the Material Mom, La Petite Quebecoise, and Sasha Fierce, the top 10 is a diversified albeit all-male affair. Ranking right behind the ladies at the number 4 spot is classic-rocker Bruce Springsteen ($70 million), followed by country crooners Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts ($65 and $60 million, respectively), and Brit-rockers Coldplay and Aussie headbangers AC/DC (both also $60 mil), with old-school country-rockers the Eagles ($55 mil) and contempo cowboy Toby Keith ($52 mil) rounding out the list. (Bubbling under are Boss Bruce's fellow Jersey boys Bon Jovi [$50 mil] and college-rock mainstays the Dave Matthews Band [$45 million]).
There are, admittedly some notable omissions. Conspicuously absent is the TMZ-ubiquitous Britney Spears, who even with a fairly well-received new CD and her successful Circus comeback tour fell short of the qualifying dozen. And while the bling factor remains a key component of the rap and hip-hop scene, nary a rhymer nor freestlyer made the grillworthy grade--not even Beyonce's put-the-ring-on-it husband, Jay-Z.
Perhaps the biggest lesson from all this--besides the fact that, given the assorted endorsement add-ons for Madonna (Louis Vuitton), Dion (Coty), and Knowles (L'Oréal), maybe it's time someone came up with designer deodorant for guys--is that, even when times are tough, people want to see and hear their favorite music acts live and in person.
As Forbes notes in its report, during the past 12 months the top 10 musicians on the list earned a combined $719 million, up from $500 million during the same period a year ago. The main reason for the jumbo jump? Concert prices. According to industry analyst Pollstar, the price of a ticket rose over $5.25 on average, to $67.33--the biggest single-year increase in some 15 years. Because of this, gross revenue for the top 100 touring acts over the last year was up 6.5 percent to $2.4 billion--even though there were 5 percent fewer shows to attend.
Moreover, for the biggest acts performing in the biggest venues around the world, selling just one concert ticket now earns on average $20, while selling a CD counts for just one measly dollar bill. So, just remember: They may be singing for their schooners rather than their supper, but at least they're out there punching the clock--just like the rest of us.