The top-earning woman in the music business has been cashing in on a massive world tour, a constant stream of hit singles and a string of endorsements with a slew of major companies, while occasionally throwing thinly veiled barbs at her chief rival.
Sounds like Taylor Swift—but, in fact, it’s her frequent competitor, Katy Perry. Largely because of her Prismatic World Tour, which is now winding down, Perry pulled in $135 million this year. She grossed more than $2 million per city over the course of 126 shows in our scoring period, and added to her total through deals with Coty, Claire’s and Covergirl.
“I am proud of my position as a boss, as a person that runs my own company,” Perry told FORBES for our Celebrity 100 cover story this past summer. “I’m an entrepreneur. … I don’t want to shy away from it. I actually want to kind of grab it by its balls.”
Swift has also been having quite the year, claiming the No. 2 spot with $80 million. More than a year after the launch of 1989—the top release of 2014 with over 3.6 million copies sold—her latest single, “Wildest Dreams,” has ascended to the top of the charts, boosted by a music video with Scott Eastwood. But it was the beginning of her epic 1989 World Tour that placed her so close to the top of this list.
Rounding out the top three is Fleetwood Mac at $59.5 million. Though the band contains three men, it also boasts two high-profile ladies—Stevie Nicks and the recently-returned Christine McVie—rendering the group eligible for this list. Its On With The Show tour included 86 concerts during our scoring period, grossing well over $1 million per city.
“Fleetwood Mac is out there slogging it on the road,” says Gary Bongiovanni, chief of concert data outfit Pollstar. “From a fan perspective, I think that Fleetwood’s core fan base recognized that Christine McVie being back in the group was something special, and worth coming out for.”
Lady Gaga ranks fourth with $59 million, followed by Beyoncé at $54.5 million. The former played 66 shows during our scoring period, also cashing in on deals with Versace and MAC, as well as her own Fame fragrance. The latter’s On The Run tour with husband Jay Z grossed over $100 million for 19 North American dates, giving music’s first couple a nightly average comparable to that of the Rolling Stones.
Top 10 World’s Highest Paid Women in Music 2015
1. Katy Perry ($135 million)
Our Celebrity 100 cover star also claims the top spot on this list, largely because of her Prismatic World Tour. During our scoring period, Perry grossed more than $2 million per city over the course of 126 shows. She adds to her total through deals with Coty, Claire’s and Covergirl.
2. Taylor Swift ($80 million)
More than a year after the launch of 1989–the top release of 2014 with over 3.6 million copies sold—Swift is still selling. Her latest single, “Wildest Dreams,” has ascended to the top of the charts, boosted by a music video featuring Swift and Scott Eastwood. With her 1989 Tour grossing some $4 million per city, she’s got the early edge for the No. 1 spot on our list next year.
3. Fleetwood Mac ($59.5 million)
Though the band contains three men, it also boasts two high-profile ladies—Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie—rendering Fleetwood Mac eligible for this list. The group’s On With The Show tour included 86 concerts during our scoring period; it also boasted a staggering secondary ticket price of over $300.
4. Lady Gaga ($59 million)
Gaga has remained one of the biggest names in the music industry for nearly a decade, pushing limits with her over-the-top performances and fashion choices. Aside from playing 66 shows during our scoring period, Gaga also cashed in from deals with Versace and MAC, as well as her own Fame fragrance.
5. Beyoncé ($54.5 million)
Last year’s On The Run tour with husband Jay Z grossed over $100 million for 19 North American dates, giving music’s first couple a nightly average comparable to that of the Rolling Stones. Deals with Pepsi, L’Oréal and her own Heat fragrance add considerable cash to her plentiful coffers.
6. Britney Spears ($31 million)
The cyborg pop star continues to release new songs like “Pretty Girls,” her collaboration with Iggy Azalea, but it’s her Planet Hollywood residency in Las Vegas that accounts for the bulk of her bucks. She also cashes in on The Intimate Britney Spears, a lingerie line that sells globally.
7. Jennifer Lopez ($28.5 million)
Though she began her career as Jenny from the Block, she’s as nearly as far from music as she is from the Bronx these days: she played only five concerts during our scoring period. Lopez made double-digit millions as a judge on American Idol; recent acting roles include the film The Boy Next Door. With a residency at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood due to start in early 2016, though, a partial return to her roots is imminent.
8. Miranda Lambert ($28.5 million)
The country star scored Female Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, part of a huge year full of diverse income streams. Lambert boasts partnerships with Red55 Wine, Pink Pistol and Dixie Darlin, as well as her own line of clothing and pet accessories.
9. Mariah Carey ($27 million)
In May 2015 the golden-voiced diva joined a long line of cash queens in taking her talents to Las Vegas for a residency. Dubbed Mariah Carey’s #1’s, the series is set to stretch into 2016, making her an early favorite to land on next year’s list.
10. Rihanna ($26 million)
After seven albums in eight years through 2012, Rihanna has gone quite some time without a full-length release, and she only played nine dates in our scoring period—resulting in a lower-than-usual finish on our list. That’s set to change with the launch of new album Anti, and likely a tour, in the coming months.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg / Forbes / November 4, 2015