NEW YORK • U2 may not be the freshest faces in music, but the Irish rockers were the industry's top earners in the United States last year, Billboard said in an annual survey on Monday.
U2 earned US$54.4 million (S$74.3 million) last year - more than 95 per cent of it from touring, as Bono and company packed stadiums for concerts to mark 30 years since the release of their seminal album The Joshua Tree.
The Irish rockers were also the highest-ranking newcomers to this year's Money Makers list.
Veteran country star Garth Brooks was a close second at US$52.2 million, as he kept up the massive tour launched in 2014 when he came out of retirement, while metal legends Metallica ranked third at US$43.2 million.
Grammy winner Bruno Mars, who was also new to this year's list, was ranked fourth, while Ed Sheeran, who topped the Billboard Hot 100 twice last year with Perfect and Shape Of You, came in fifth.
Lady Gaga was the top-ranking woman at No. 6, while Billy Joel, who played a record 100th concert at Madison Square Garden in New York last week, was in seventh.
Other female musicians on the list included Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.
American rock band Guns N' Roses, whose November Rain is the first video created before the inception of YouTube to hit one billion views, was eighth.
Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar was the highest-grossing rapper at No. 13.
Billboard confirmed that touring has overwhelmingly become the top means of revenue for musicians in an era of stagnating traditional album sales and a rapid rise in streaming.
It said that the list was compiled with Nielsen Music and Billboard Boxscore information, using only US data from last year.
Among the 50 highest-grossing artists, touring accounted for nearly 80 per cent of revenue.
Only two artists who did not tour last year made the Top 50 - 37th-ranked Drake, the king of streaming who earned US$8.6 million from Apple Music, Spotify and other online platforms, and 48th-ranked Taylor Swift, who made most of her money from oldfashioned CD sales and downloads.
US singer Beyonce topped Billboard's Top 50 Money Makers list last year.