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Who Are Rock’s Best Paid (and Most Played) Artists?

Hulton Archive / Geffen
Hulton Archive, Getty Images / Geffen

The debate over whether rock is dead will continue to rage on for the foreseeable future. But halfway through 2017, one thing is certain: It’s still extremely lucrative for the genre’s biggest artists.

Billboard has released last year’s list of highest-paid musicians, and although pop star Beyonce took the top spot, a couple of rock vets weren’t far behind. Guns N’ Roses came in second place with $42.3 million — $40 million of which comes courtesy of the band’s Not in This Lifetime tour, which brought guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan back into the fold.

Bruce Springsteen came in just behind GNR, pulling in $42.2 million — and again, much of that income was derived from touring, with his dates celebrating the 35th anniversary of his The River LP accounting for nearly $41 million of the total. Much of the rest of the year’s top musical earners came from the pop and country genres, but other veteran rockers rounding out the list included Billy Joel (No. 11, $23.6 million), Metallica (No. 15, $18.5 million), and Paul McCartney (No. 16, $17.7 million).

McCartney also figured into the upper reaches of another recently published tally: the top 20 rock acts streamed globally via Spotify. The Beatles placed third, with streams of their catalog — which only arrived on digital music services in late 2015 — outpacing those amassed by big names like Metallica (No. 7), Queen (No. 9), AC/DC (No. 12), and Pink Floyd (No. 13).

These streaming figures, which represent the first half of 2017, were released to commemorate the International Day of Rock ‘n’ Roll — timed to celebrate the anniversary of Live Aid.

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