From “Old Town Road” to “God’s Country,” it’s been an exciting year for country music. As 2019 winds to a close, we’re taking a look at which of our fave country stars cleaned up this year, courtesy of Forbes’s annual roundup. Here are the top 10 highest-paid country stars — and some who didn’t make the cut may surprise you.
In order, from highest-earning to lowest-earning, here’s the Forbes Top 10, plus the total amount they earned in 2019: Luke Bryan ($42.5 million), Zac Brown Band ($38.5 million), Keith Urban ($35 million), Blake Shelton ($32 million), Kenny Chesney ($31 million), Eric Church ($30 million), Shania Twain ($29 million), Florida Georgia Line ($26 million), Garth Brooks ($24 million), and Jason Aldean ($23.5 million).
Notice anything odd about that list? Yeah, we did too — how is there only one woman in the Top 10 highest-paid country stars?! And — no offense to the legendary Shania Twain — but we were surprised to learn she’s out-earning country stars like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, both of whom have released new music more recently than Twain. (Underwood ranks at #16 on Forbes’s list, earning $16 million; Lambert ties for #20 with Lady Antebellum, earning $13 million.)
While it feels like women are underrepresented on this list, Forbes says this year’s numbers actually indicate progress. “There are 6 women in the top 20—the least lopsided ratio in the seven years Forbes has published the list,” Forbes writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg notes. “And Lil Nas X is both the first openly gay act and the first person of color to make it.” (Lil Nas X came in at #18, earning $14 million.)
Overall, the country music industry is clearly thriving, with the top 10 stars earning 2% more than last year’s — a grand total of $311.5 million. If Forbes is right, and the tide is changing, we’ll hopefully see even more diversity on the 2020 list.