U2 amassed $160.8 million for 2011, well ahead of runner-up Taylor Swift, whose combined earnings came to $126.8 million. Lady Gaga was the only other act to top $100 million, posting $109.4 million to place third. Country music road warrior Kenny Chesney landed in fourth place with $98.5 million. The year’s blockbuster album and singles sales champ, Adele, pulled in at fifth place with $92.8 million, a figure that certainly would have been higher if vocal cord problems hadn’t forced her to cancel big chunks of her 2011 tour itinerary.
Figures are drawn from Pollstar’s recently published tallies of North American box office revenues and Nielsen SoundScan’s tracking of retail music sales in the U.S. The Ultimate Top 10 uses figures from North America because they are tracked more reliably than in many other parts of the world. But most of these musicians pulled in even more than these totals with ever-expanding ancillary income sources such as tour merchandise, product endorsements, video game sales, ring tones and clothing and jewelry lines.