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Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton make Forbes' 2014 list of highest-paid country music stars

by Brandy McDonnell Published: July 28, 2014
Toby Keith again tops Forbes' list of the top-earning country music stars. Photo provided.
Toby Keith again tops Forbes' list of the top-earning country music stars. Photo provided.

Three top-shelf acts with Oklahoma ties – Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton – have made Forbes’ 2014 list of 12 highest-paid country music acts.

Forbes notes in its introduction that “When it comes to commercial success, country acts are outpacing the biggest names in mainstream pop music.” The magazine notes that country star Luke Bryan (who is No. 5 on the list of top earners) was the No. 2 best-selling artist of 2013 behind only Justin Timberlake, while hot new duo Florida Georgia Line (who is No. 10 on the earnings list) scored the fourth-most downloaded song with  “Cruise.”

Norman resident Toby Keith, the subject of last year’s Forbes Celebrity 100 cover story, once again tops the list of “Country Cash Kings,” earning an estimated $65 million between June 2013 and June 2014. Here’s what Forbes has to stay about his impressive payday:

Another year, another massive payday for the subject of last year’s FORBES Celeb 100 cover story. Keith doesn’t get as much mainstream acclaim as Diddy or Jay Z, but out-earned both this year with the help of a bevy of entrepreneurial ventures including his Show Dog label, a growing list of I Love This Bar And Grill restaurants, a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with Ford, and his own Wild Shot mescal.

Superstar trio Rascal Flatts, which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, ranks No. 8 on the list with an estimated $27 million earned in the past year. Here’s Forbes’ assessment:

The band has moved more than 22 million albums since its 2000 debut; this year, new album ‘Rewind’ gave the group its first chart-topper since 2012.

Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton ties with Brad Paisley at No. 12 on the list; both men took in an estimated $23 million in the past year. Here’s what Forbes had to say about the Ada native’s success:

Country’s lone representative on ‘The Voice,’ Shelton has brought a taste of the genre—and his brand—to millions of viewers around America. That gig, along with his live concerts, record sales, and endorsements with the likes of Pizza Hut, has helped place him among country’s top earners.

Others on the list of top-earning country stars include Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, George Strait and Tim McGraw.

Near-misses for the list include longtime Owasso resident and current comeback king Garth Brooks, Tishomingo resident and hot singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert, Checotah native and enduring “American Idol” victor Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Faith Hill, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes and Kacey Musgrave.


To form this year’s Country Cash Kings list, Forbes considered concert ticket sales, royalties for recorded music and publishing, merchandise sales, endorsement deals and other business ventures. The publication used data from Pollstar, the Recording Industry Association of America, industry insiders and some of the artists themselves. Estimates reflect pretax income before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers.


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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