Concerts slowly returned from the COVID shutdown over the summer and fall of 2021 and hit the ground running earlier in 2022. But with the wrap of Kenny Chesney’s Here and Now tour, we’re officially back in business. The country superstar has launched summer tours in 18 of the century’s 23 years so far, and his presence on the arena and stadium circuit continues to represent the steadiest of hands.
The Here and Now tour, originally labeled as the Chilaxification Tour in its scheduled 2020 routing, closed after 41 shows, grossing $135 million and selling 1.3 million tickets, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore. That makes it the highest-grossing tour of Chesney’s career and just barely slides into second based on ticket sales.
Much like 2018’s Trip Around the Sun Tour, 2016’s Spread the Love Tour and many other Chesney specials throughout the 21st century, his latest oscillated between domestic stadiums and arenas from April to August. He began with a bang, playing Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium to the tune of $8.6 million and 58,000 tickets, the highest-grossing show of the tour…until the very last minute.
As is tradition for Chesney, the Here and Now tour closed at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium, the Boston-area venue that has served as the final stop on all of his tours dating back to 2011. The Aug. 26-27 double-header grossed $13 million and sold 122,000 tickets; both figures are all-time highs across Chesney’s three-decade career.
Chesney played his first of 19 shows at Gillette on 2005’s Somewhere in the Sun Tour. Accounting for reports from his latest stop, his total take at the venue has now crossed the $100 million mark ($100.7 million) and the 1 million ticket threshold (1.1 million).
The Here and Now tour’s attendance of 1.299 million makes it Chesney’s 13th tour to cross the seven-figure benchmark, dating back to 2003’s Margaritas ‘n Senoritas Tour. Those numbers range between 1.034 million (Sun City Carnival Tour; 2009) and 1.335 million (The Big Revival tour; 2015). No other artist in Boxscore history has a double-digit tally of million-ticket tours.
Here and Now is also Chesney’s third $100-million tour, passing previous highs reached on the Trip Around the Sun Tour ($114.3 million) and 2015’s The Big Revival tour ($114.1 million). Across more than 20 years of touring, his annual gross has grown steadily, only dipping twice — once in 2009 and again with 2016’s markedly shorter run. Kenny Chesney On Tour (2000-01) earned $8.6 million across 82 shows, beginning his slow climb to this year’s $135 million haul.
All told, Chesney has grossed $1.2 billion and sold 17.9 million tickets across his career, dating back to early reports in 1995.
Kang Hyo-won is not a marquee name in the music industry. The South Korean producer is better known as Pdogg, the studio wizard behind hits by K-pop supergroup BTS and other acts on the roster of Korean entertainment company HYBE. Because Kang played a key role in HYBE’s global success, his employer gave him 128,000 stock options in 2016 that turned into about $35 million when Kang exercised them. (All currency conversions to U.S. dollars in this story are based on the average 2021 exchange rate.) That made Kang the second-highest-paid music industry executive last year among those whose earnings are publicly disclosed.
Yoon Seok-jun (aka Lenzo Yoon) and Kim Shin-gyu, co-CEO of HYBE America and chief artist management officer, respectively, also benefited from HYBE going public. Yoon netted nearly $34 million and Kim gained $24 million from the 2021 sale of stock options — thanks to the common corporate practice of tying top employees’ compensation to the valuation of its common stock.
“HYBE grants stock options to members who have contributed to the establishment and management of the company, overseas sales or innovation in accordance with the Commercial Act and the articles of incorporation,” the company said in a statement to Billboard. “The members of HYBE, who are granted stock options, are diverse, including creators, management and key personnel.” The practice also extends to key artists. HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk even gave the seven members of BTS shares equal to a 1.4% stake in the company.
HYBE may be an extreme example of equity-based wealth in the music business, but it’s hardly unique. As the industry has grown since the mid-2010s, a few companies have tapped into investor interest by going public. That has turned some founders into billionaires and enriched executives who helped build the biggest corporations.
Billboard’s inaugural Executive Money Makers breakdown of stock ownership and executive compensation shows who is most handsomely rewarded for founding and leading the publicly traded companies that made the modern music business appealing to investors. (story continues after charts)
The more recognizable names on these lists are, in many cases, executives who spent over a decade building corporate giants. Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge would have topped the compensation list with only his $48.4 million (40.9 million euros) standard salary and performance bonuses. But in 2021, Grainge earned several one-off bonuses from UMG’s former parent company, Vivendi: $230.5 million (195 million euros) for guiding the company to its September 2021 listing on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange and two bonuses worth a combined $45.4 million (38.4 million euros) related to investments from a consortium led by Tencent Holdings and Pershing Square Capital. Vivendi got a fantastic return on its investment under Grainge’s leadership. It passed on an $8.5 billion takeover bid in 2013 and entrusted Grainge to guide the company through the post-CD doldrums and into a streaming-focused golden age. UMG’s valuation when it finally went public? $55 billion. Had UMG been public over the last decade, Grainge would have likely amassed stock ownership. UMG didn’t have a stock incentive plan prior to going public, so Vivendi paid Grainge in cash.
SiriusXM CEO Jennifer Witz, the top female on the best-compensated executives list, joined the company in 2002 and has held various senior finance and operations roles within the company. She was promoted from president of sales, marketing and operations in January 2021 after Jim Meyer stepped down. Only 5% of Witz’s total compensation came from a guaranteed salary. As is common with publicly traded companies, SiriusXM bases much of its top executives’ compensation on the growth of its share price and performance against certain financial and other metrics. About 75% of Witz’s compensation came from stock options and restricted stock units (that will vest in the coming years), and the remainder was a performance-based bonus. Under Witz’s guidance, SiriusXM excelled in 2021, growing 8% to a record $8.7 billion in revenue. SiriusXM’s satellite radio subscriptions grew by 1.1 million to 32 million during the pandemic and a nationwide slowdown in auto sales, the company’s key method for acquiring customers.
Michael Rapino became Live Nation president/CEO just before it went public in December 2005 and led the company through its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, as well as countless acquisitions of promoters, festivals, management firms and ticketing companies. In 2005, Live Nation traded at $13 and had an annual revenue of $3.7 billion. Now, with revenue on pace to easily surpass the $11.6 billion reached in pre-pandemic 2019 and Live Nation shares trading at nearly $100, he lands on both lists, along with Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper, who led the major from an annual revenue of $2.9 billion in 2011 to $5.3 billion in its latest fiscal year.
The individuals who top Billboard’s ranking of stockholders tend to be company founders who own double-digit shares of outstanding common stock. (Note: All stock ownership valuations are based on the companies’ closing share prices as of Aug. 24.) Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and co-founder Martin Lorentzon lead the list with $3.7 billion and $2.4 billion worth of shares, respectively. Ek owns 16% of Spotify’s common shares, about half of which are deemed to be beneficially owned by him but held by Spotify investor Tencent Music Entertainment and other foreign companies. (Ek’s D.G.E. Investments holding company has an irrevocable proxy with regards to those shares.)
No. 3, Klaus-Peter Schulenberg ($2.1 billion), the CEO of German promoter and ticketing company CTS Eventim, acquired an early incarnation of the company in 1996 and took it public four years later. Schulenberg indirectly owns his shares through his KPS Foundation.
Next is Bang ($1.7 billion), who founded Big Hit Entertainment — since renamed HYBE — and created a global powerhouse that extends well beyond K-pop. No. 7 on the list, Denis Ladegaillerie ($106 million), co-founded French music company Believe in 2005, guided it through investments and major acquisitions such as distributor TuneCore and took it public in 2020.
It’s worth noting that Ek, Lorentzon, Schulenberg, Bang and Ladegaillerie have something else in common besides large holdings of valuable shares: None of them appear on the most-compensated list.
These rankings are based on publicly available financial releases — such as proxy statements, annual reports and Form 4 filings that reveal executives’ recent stock transactions — that publicly traded companies are required to file. Securities laws require companies to show shareholders the amounts they compensate their executives and the various ways they are rewarded, such as guaranteed salaries, grants of stock and stock options, and bonuses.
The Money Makers executive compensation table contains only executive officers named in these reports: the CEO, the top financial officer and the next most highly paid executive officers. Conglomerates that own numerous companies — such as record labels and music publishers — disclose compensation for corporate-level officers only, not well-paid label heads or superstar artists on their rosters.
Take Warner Music Group’s December 2021 acquisition of 300 Entertainment for $400 million. The deal was surely a windfall for 300 co-founders Kevin Liles, Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz and Roger Gold, but because they are not named executive officers, their payout was not disclosed by WMG. Sony Music Entertainment’s executive compensation is not revealed by its parent company, Sony Corp., and No. 2 concert promoter AEG Presents is owned by privately held Anschutz Entertainment Group, for example. Were they stand-alone publicly traded companies, they would be required to make such disclosures. As a result, these rankings should not be considered exhaustive. But, if recent trends persist, there will be more public music companies in 2023 and more executives will be eligible for future lists.
Natti Natasha, Daddy Yankee, and Wisin & Yandel take over atop Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart as “Mayor Que Usted” rises 5-1 on the Sept. 3-dated ranking. Natti captures her 10th ruler, Yankee his 27th while Wisin & Yandel clock their 15th champ as a duo.
“Mayor Que Usted” laps all competitors in the No. 1 race boosted by a 31% in audience impressions, to 9.47 million, earned in the U.S. in the week ending Aug. 28, according to Luminate. The track, released June 16 via Pina/Sony Music Latin, reaches the No. 1 slot as the Greatest Gainer of the week, in its 10th frame.
With the new champ, Daddy Yankee achieves his 27th leader, and continues as the act with the fourth-most No. 1s among all Latin acts since Latin Airplay launched in 1994.
Wisin & Yandel, meanwhile, clock their 15th win as a duo. As a solo act, however, Wisin ranks among the top 5. Here’s the leaderboard:
- 35, J Balvin
- 32, Enrique Iglesias
- 28, Ozuna
- 27, Daddy Yankee
- 22, Wisin
- 21, Maluma
- 19, Romeo Santos
- 18, Bad Bunny
- 18, Ricky Martin
For Natti, “Mayor” marks her 10th Latin Airplay No. 1 and third through a Daddy Yankee collaboration. The pair previously partnered up with two back-to-back champs: “No Lo Trates,” with Pitbull, and “Runaway,” with Sebastián Yatra and Jonas Brothers, both one-week rulers in 2019. “Otra Cosa,” her first collab with Daddy Yankee, narrowly missed the No. 1 slot, hitting No. 11 in 2017.
“Mayor” also climbs to the Latin Rhythm Airplay summit in its 10th week with the most increased audience honors. While Natti continues to rank second among female acts with nine No. 1s (Karol G continues at the helm with 13 champs), Daddy Yankee ties with J Balvin for the most overall, both with 34 hits.
The star followed up by revealing that the album’s first single, “Bigger Than Me,” will be arriving on Thursday (Sept. 1) at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT. “This one is for all of you!” he wrote alongside a short snippet of the song’s guitar-driven, acoustic instrumental.
“I’m so excited to finally tell you that my new album Faith In the Future is out 11th November,” he wrote in his album announcement, shared to his social media accounts along with the 14-song track list. “After living with this album for a while I can’t wait for you all to hear it.”
Faith In the Future will mark Tomlinson’s second album released as a solo artist, and follows his 2020 debut Walls. That record peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, and No. 4 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart. Tomlinson just wrapped up his world tour in support of Walls, performing in front of audiences everywhere from the U.S., the U.K. and Europe to Australia.
As a member of One Direction, Tomlinson released five studio albums alongside bandmates Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne. Four out of the five albums — 2011’s Up All Night, 2012’s Take Me Home, 2013’s Midnight Memories and 2014’s Four topped the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart. 2015’s Made in the A.M., meanwhile, peaked at No. 2.
Happy Birthday, Jungkook from Billboard News!
Kanye West’s relationship with Gap Inc. might be getting a bit “Cold.” The rapper, who now goes by Ye, took aim at the clothing retailer in Instagram posts two days in a row.
In his first post on Tuesday (Aug. 30), the “Eazy” artist, who partnered with the clothing retailer in 2020 for a Yeezy Gap line, shared a photo of what appears to be a pair of oversized mirrored Yeezy Gap sunglasses on a glass table, with dark clothing strewn on a floor behind. “Gap held a meeting about me without me?” he asked in his post.
Less than 24 hours later, he took another shot at the brand. This time, he posted a screenshot of a text thread showing an image of a young man modeling an oversized Gap logo T-shirt, with one text message claiming, “This is Gap copying YGEBB.” (YGEBB is the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collaboration.)
The caption of the Wednesday Instagram post, however, was not related to the alleged similarities between a Gap T-shirt and a Yeezy Gap design. Instead, the rapper took issue with how the company allegedly handled a photo shoot with his children. “But they canceled the photo shoot with my kids in Japan without me knowing,” he claimed, not naming which of his four kids was supposed to be involved.
Ye shares North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm with ex-wife Kim Kardashian.
Billboard has reached out to the Gap and Kardashian for comment.
In a second Instagram post on Wednesday, Ye shared a video of himself speaking to a room adorned with images of Yeezy Gap sunglasses, telling the audience about his passion for design and the fashion business, as well as his goals for the collaboration. ” The Vision will be realized Let’s start with stores in Atlanta,” he captioned the video.
Earlier in the month, the rapper-entrepreneur defended his decision to sell his Yeezy Gap collection out of what appeared to be big trash bags, with critics arguing that the marketing concept mocks homelessness and those living in poverty.
“I’m an innovator, and I’m not here to sit up and apologize about my ideas,” he said during an interview with Fox News on Aug. 18, explaining that the bags were actually “construction bags” to make shopping his collection feel more informal. “This is, like, not a joke. This is not a game. This is not just some celebrity collaboration. This is my life, you know? I’m fighting for a position to be able to change clothing and bring the best design to the people.”