According to the music journal 'Billboard', U2's earnings - which were dominated by ticket receipts from their ground-breaking tour - were almost twice as much as the next biggest earner on the list, Bruce Springsteen.
He had to make do with £37 million last year, although he will not have to split it five ways as Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton and Paul McGuinness will with the U2 earnings.
The next biggest earners were Madonna, AC/DC and Britney Spears, but U2's claim to be the biggest band on the planet is boosted by their vastly superior earnings last year.
"Midway through what is destined to be the highest-grossing tour in history, U2 remains the biggest band in the world," 'Billboard' magazine said.
"Its 360-degree tour is the group's first under a 12-year multi-rights deal with Live Nation that includes worldwide touring, merchandising and the band's lucrative U2.com website, a digital distribution goldmine for all things U2.
"The act's current global stadium tour is the most expensive ever mounted -- the daily (running cost) is said to be $750,000 - but those costs are well offset by the highest capacities ever from the band's 360-degree configuration.
"By even the most conservative estimates, U2 was far and away the top revenue generator in music last year."
The £71m quoted by 'Billboard' does not include the band's earnings outside the United States.
The 360-degree tour is the most expensive ever staged, but is also playing to larger crowds because they are performing in the round with the aid of the specially-designed 'Claw' stage. Although it did not function as planned during U2's homecoming gigs at Croke Park last July because of safety fears regarding Hill 16, it has proved its worth elsewhere.
U2 will play further gigs in the US and Europe later this year, but have repeatedly denied that Irish gigs will be added to the itinerary.
The band tops the list of what is the fourth edition of 'Billboard' magazine's annual countdown of the highest earners in music.
Its complicated formula involves, among other things, earnings from CD and digital sales, publishing royalties, all forms of streaming and a percentage of ticket sales at gigs.
Michael Jackson was the top earner from CD and ringtone royalties in 2009, but only made it to number 20 on the overall list, highlighting the importance of touring to a star's pay packet. Madonna topped the list last year.
AC/DC and Britney Spears round out the top five with 43 million US dollars (£28 million) and 38 million US dollars (£24 million ), respectively.
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