Top 10 Idol Earners

Forbes loves to compile Top 10 Earning lists and its latest “revelation” is a ranking of American Idols. Anyone paying attention would immediately guess (and be correct), that Carrie Underwood reigns supreme on this list  having earned over $20 million in the past year cashing in on over 80 tour dates. Lambert (season eight, No. 2) and Chris Daughtry (season five, No. 4) tied in second place with $6 million each. According to the publication Underwood “banked as much as the Top 5 artists added together.

Forty percent of the Top 10 have Nashville ties. And that doesn’t include current season celebs Scotty McCreery and Laura Alaina who may well swell Nashville’s representation in next year’s listings.

As Forbes notes it isn’t all about winning, of the top three earners only Underwood was actually a winner. Others with Nashville ties in the Top 10 include Jordin Sparks at No. 5 with $3 million; Kelly Clarkson at No. 6 with $2.5 million; and Kellie Pickler who ranks No. 8 with $1.8 million. Clarkson, managed by Nashville-based Starstruck is scheduled to have a new album next year which should elevate her rank in next year’s numbers. (Check out a photo carousel here.)

Forbes methodology statement: These numbers are based on estimated pretax income earned from May 2010 to May 2011, before subtracting agent and manager fees. The totals were compiled with the help of data from Pollstar, RIAA and others, as well as interviews with industry insiders including managers, concert promoters, publicists, agents and, in some cases, the musicians themselves.

An interesting footnote to this article is that Idol announcer Ryan Seacrest reportedly snagged of $61 million including his famed hosting spot, plus endorsements and radio revenues. Seacrest made more than the total of all ten Idol contestants.

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About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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