Luke Bryan has topped Forbes' annual list for top-earning country stars for 2018, beating out Garth Brooks to the top spot. Brooks has topped the list for the last three years running thanks to his massive three-year North American tour with wife Trisha Yearwood, selling over six million tickets and cementing his position at the zenith of country music.
However, quite possibly as a result of the tour winding down, Brooks places second, with his $45.5 million earned for the year behind Bryan's $52 million. Forbes attributes his rise to the number one spot to the 42-year-old's worldwide headlining tour, where he is said to have earned in the seven figures for every performance. Bryan's new role as a judge on reality TV show 'American Idol,' as well as his endorsements with brands such as Chevrolet, also helped the country star increase his cash flow.
Ranking in at third was another evergreen veteran on the country music scene: Kenny Chesney. Honored with the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award on four separate occasions, Chesney has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and earned $37 million for the year. The 50-year-old cashed in on his Trip Around the Sun tour, as well as his own Blue Chair Rum, and an endorsement deal with Corona to keep the money coming in.
Coming in at fourth, fifth, and sixth were the Zac Brown Band ($31 million), Blake Shelton ($28 million), and country crossover duo Florida Georgia Line ($27 million). The only woman to place on the list was Dolly Parton, who at 72, is still going strong. The 'Jolene' hitmaker came in at 10th and earned $19 million, which mostly come from her Dollywood theme park and dinner theater establishments. The fact that she owns her own music publishing and master recordings probably have a part to play as well.
As for the rest of the list, it was rounded out by Jason Aldean at seventh ($23 million), Toby Keith at eighth ($22 million), and Brad Paisley at ninth ($20 million). The grand total earned by the country's top 10 country artists was $304.5 million, which while marking an astonishing 20% drop from 2017, still represented a larger figure than the $260 million earned by the top 10 DJs of the year.
Forbes suggests that the drop shouldn't be considered too alarming as it can be jotted down to Brooks' tour coming to an end, as well as Parton playing fewer shows this year. Furthermore, several artists that did not make the top 10 still earned in the double-digit millions, with the likes of Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, and Tim McGraw all missing the cut by a small margin.