In 2015, iconic psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead celebrated their 50th anniversary with six massive shows at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California and Solider Field, Chicago. Those shows were more than just a wonderful celebration of a great American rock band: They were massive money-makers, bringing in an estimated $52 million in revenue. Later in the year, an off-shoot group — Dead and Company featuring John Mayer (…and minus Phil Lesh) — sold out plenty of arenas around the country.
All that tour revenue lead to a massively successful pay day for The Grateful Dead. They earned the sixth spot on Billboard’s Top 40 music money-makers list for 2015, bringing in an estimate $23.8 million combined across music sales, streaming royalties, publishing rights, and touring revenue. According to Billboard, that means your parents favorite college acid-trip concert experience from the ’80s made more money than Adele (#9, $20.5 million), who dropped the album of the year for 30-year-old women who love to cry about how single they are. Adele didn’t tour in 2015, but that’s no small accomplishment given her stature in the pop culture. Maroon 5 (#10, $19.5 million) did tour, plus licensed the music in a gazillion commercials. They were still beat significantly by The Dead, who also beat U2 and Luke Bryan in the payday rankings.
Pretty impressive stat for a band that’s been around since 1965. Just goes to show the staying power of great music.