Taylor Swift tops list of music's high earners
March 12th, 2012
11:50 AM ET

Taylor Swift tops list of music's high earners

Taylor Swift apparently has some pretty deep pockets.

The 22-year-old country star is at the top of Billboard's list of the 40 biggest "money makers" in music last year.

According to the report, Swift brought in more cash last year than fellow singers Adele, Britney Spears and Katy Perry combined.

Billboard estimates that the six-time Grammy Award winner earned $35.7 million in the 2011 calendar year, with much of her cash coming from sales of her more-than-quadruple-platinum album Speak Now, along with its accompanying tour.

That pulled in $88.5 million in the United States alone.

Swift’s songwriting skills also reportedly tipped the scales greatly in her favor: She wrote all 14 songs on her third album, so she scored quite a bit in royalties as well.

Last year was also an extremely good one for legendary rock band U2. They scored the No. 2 spot on the list, reportedly raking in $32.1 million courtesy of their sold-out 360 Tour. The tour yielded a whopping $736 million over the course of two years, including $50 million in merchandise sales and more than $1.4 million in digital track sales.

Country star Kenny Chesney clocks in at No. 3 with $29.8 million, followed by Lady Gaga at No. 4 with $25.3 million, made up of sales from her hugely popular Monster Ball Tour, which brought in more than $51 million.

Rap star Lil’ Wayne rounds out the top five with $23.1 million. He made $44.7 million in tour grosses as well as $12.3 million in digital track sales, not to mention money off projects from Young Money Entertainment artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj.

Other artists landing in the top ten are: Sade (No. 6, $16.3 million), Bon Jovi (No. 7, $15.8), Celine Dion (No. 8, $14.2 million), Jason Aldean (No. 9, $13.4 million) and Adele with $13 million. Her album "21" sold 6.7 million copies last year alone.

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. New York Music

    This is really interesting, You're an excessively professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in quest of more of your great post. Also, I've shared your website in my social networks

    May 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brenda


    March 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    Proof that anybody can get rich and that country fans are the most idiotic in the world. What a talentless girl. Meanwhile, vets go homeless.

    March 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fantasized

    Hello there Taylor Swift. If you are reading this, can I get into those pants of your and shove my weener in that white hole of yours and make some babies! Call me at (510)....-.911.

    March 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. woodrow

    So if I buy one of her albums it will be over the top and totally unnecessary. Ok then.

    March 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pickura

    Taylor Swift is the featured cover on Pickura!


    March 13, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kyle Flanagan

    The only song I've heard her sing is a duet along with Paula Fernandes called 'Long Live'. That was cool, a blend of Portuguese and English dance-alternative. That apart, I'm not much into Country music.

    March 13, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. JESS

    So sad when this generation makes someone like her a six time grammy winner. Sure she writes her own music but that's where her accomplishments end. She's overrated and can't sing, her style reminds me of a pre schooler and her whole essence is just so boring especially from what I've seen from concert videos. Her songs are all the same and personally I wish she would just stop...

    March 13, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. J0nx

    Hopefully she will grow up a bit and mature so that she doesn't spill the sordid details of every failed relationship she has in her songs. Very childish..

    March 13, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. CN Red

    Not a huge fan but of what I have seen and heard of her seems to indicate she is an ambitious, talented young lady. What ever young guy knocks her up will be set for life.

    March 13, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • calvin

      You should have left the word "talented" off your comment. If there's one thing she's not, it's talented. She can't sing for crap.

      March 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hot Carl

    She'd do well in p0rn with a face like that. $$$$$$$

    March 13, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. omg

    I would lick her rich feet

    March 13, 2012 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Fargo

    Taylor , if your tastes ever turn to 59 year old men with a little bit of a chubby belly would you please marry me.?

    March 13, 2012 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Taylor

      Fargo,you're like eeeewww gross and all you could totally like be my grandfather.Keep your nasty looking tee shirt on please OMG the nerve of some people.

      March 13, 2012 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Name*hannah

    She is very talented. Good for her!

    March 13, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. AZ


    March 13, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  16. .•|•.


    March 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Debbie

    Jealous much? I thought the comments are supposed to be deem appropriate for posting! Obviously not, or else the personal responsible is sitting on his brains and needs to pull his head out and get some much needed fresh air. Some of the comments are nothing short of disgusting. CNN, step up your game.

    March 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  18. cruisecontrol

    Taylor Swift should thank Kanye West for that idiotic display that probably got her so much public and fan support.

    March 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  19. tcaros

    I'd like to get Taylor swiftly in the rear.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Jim

    I'm glad to hear about her being the richest and stuff. Not knowing was making me all itchy and stuff. But now I know and stuff. She's rich and stuff, because she's awesome and stuff. Yay, America...and stuff.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  21. calvin

    How is that possible ? She and Justin Bieber have one thing in common: Neither can sing for crap.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Dan

    She is so hot and talented.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Dan

    She deserves it ... brilliant lyrics and music.

    March 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  24. northernstar

    Apparently you don't get it. Taylor went to Nashville at age 11 with demo tapes and was rejected. Later, RCA signed her to a development contract at age 13 that she walked away from because RCA wouldn't let her record her own songs. Who does that ! Under a new label the first song she wrote & recorded went number 1 on both country and pop charts and she has been going ever since. All while remaining what everyone agrees is a "nice person". You can't tell me that she has not earned her stardom. As for talent; she has one of the most loyal fan bases that exists and that is why she has earned her way to the "top earning entertainer" in 2011. Apparently millions of fans like what she does !

    March 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      One of the best post I have read about her you are absolutely correct. She is also very intellegent. Haters just get jealous and hate. I have said it and will say it again you know you have made it to the big time!! when you have haters!!!

      March 13, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  25. ccrizz

    I am sick of hearing how much these stars grammy winners etc. Make. I'd much rather hear about what they gave to charities.what contributions did they make to society other than their talents.How many millions did they give?how about it!

    March 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • FTROY01

      Ah dont cry!! Just cause she has worked and notice I said worked!!!! her way up the chain and is now a weathy celebrity and you seem extremely jealous. She by far donates her share to charity what about you though oh thats right you have to have a job to donate anything.

      March 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  26. not a swift fan

    Looks like she spent most of it on her makeup.

    March 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  27. MajorMajor

    If Swift is making $35 million a year for singing, I guess the economy is doing okay, because she couldn't do it if so many people couldn't afford to see her concerts and buy her music.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  28. noneya

    Rat face.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      Obviously you just looked in the mirror and decided you had to comment on your self. Your a probably a fat ugly sk))))k

      March 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Dave

    I guess pre-teens have a lot of money to blow. I only wish she could actually sing live, my daughter was so disappointed.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      Well apparently you need your hearing checked because I have seen her live and she is great. In addition the song she sang at the grammy's live!!! (mean) was outstanding so I dont know what either of your problems are other than you are probably just being a troll!!!

      March 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  30. deb

    Proof that one need not have anything that resembles a quality singing voice as long as they are cute and perky and daddy has the bucks to buy her into Nashville. Worst singing ever.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      Your jealousy is totally unbecoming!!I have 35.7 million reasons and that is just last year!!that doesnt include before or so far this year that say you are dead wrong. She has more talent in her little pinky that you would have in 10 lifetimes. At its highest your talent level is scrubbing toilets so get to it and stop playing on the internet!!

      March 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  31. David

    Would be interested to see how much money she actually has in her bank account my guess is of the $100M between record sales and concerts if she has more than $5M bucks to her name she is lucky record labels are notorious for ripping off artists especially a young star who probably was just happy to sign a record deal and not worry about what was in the contract, they probably own her for 5 to 10 years before she can get out and make money on her own.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      A wrong!!! You obviously are of limited intelligence also!! This is Taylor Swift we are talking about and I have followed her along for a few years now. This girl is smarter than the average bear and much more mature than her age would dictate. She is chairman and CEO of her company so I totally doubt very seriously she has any less that the 35.7 mill that is her salary!!

      March 13, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  32. Eddie

    She looks like she should be on the stage at a Vietnam war protest.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Leucadia Bob


    March 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Hadenough

    Amazing how Americans will settle for mediocrity.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • fretlessbass

      I'd absolutely adore her if she named her next album that: Settle For Mediocrity (love it!)

      March 13, 2012 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  35. LEE

    Last night I saw three teenage Italian boys called Il Volo on the PBS channel. They were amazing! True talent. How can someone like her make so much money and receive so much recognition when she can't sing? She is a cutsie little girl with a rich daddy who made it happen for her. Please bring back real music.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      That is your opinion only not the opinion of the masses. She can sing just wonderfully and she gets better all the time so you can go pound salt!!! 35.7 million reasons dictate that YOU!!!obviously dont know anything at all about music so take your hating comments and go jump off the nearest cliff

      March 13, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  36. LOL @ all you jealous biiaaaatches

    Jealous of her money, ambition, and her good looks...get a freaking life bozos....

    March 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Yoda

    Hit it I would.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  38. John Carroll

    To bad she can't sing...Martina, Carrie, and Faith...great singers.
    Taylor gets all the bubblegum chewing teenage girl votes.
    She's definitely not a country singer.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      She gets my vote and I am 47. She is one of the best song-writers ever.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • fretlessbass

      Says Dan the country music lovin', gay, christian, Republican 😛 We know the demographic.

      March 13, 2012 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  39. Hard Logic

    Be sure to thank Kanye West for all your fame and success. If it weren't for his foolish stunt that forced your popularity, you'd be a mediocre act.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Tired of TS

    I'm tired of every other song on the radio being sung by this twit. She's called T_wat Waffle for a reason. She preens around the stage like she has something stiff shoved up her backside, sings about things she knows NOTHING about. Look, this thing that thinks she's all that and then some dropped out of high school at 16 to pursue this career she calls singing. Not exactly something to be proud of – being a high school dropout. Twits like her would do well to finish their education FIRST, then pursue their careers later. NOT the other way around.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hard Logic

      Entertainers like her are part of the big problem with kids dropping out of school these days. They feel if they can do it, so can I. They don't realize how lucky these people got when they were discovered. She just happen to be in the right place at the right time, sounded and looked a little bit better than someone else. Silly kids don't realize, it's better to have a high school diploma and or college degree to fall back on for a guaranteed source of income. Yes, I said guaranteed. Walmarts and fast food joints have plenty of jobs available, but you need a high school diploma or at least be in high school. That's why I see all of these wanna be singer, rapper and actors struggling on the streets with thier hands out begging for a dollar to eat.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • fretlessbass

      I find it funny that she sings about love with what so many perceive as depth and understanding, yet is unable to hold onto a man for more than a date or two... is it just me or is something suspect here? How can she develop such intense feelings so fast as to write these gut wrenching 'he done me wrong' songs when she doesn't ever even get the chance for the relationships to blossom to the stage where her lyrics may become warranted?

      March 13, 2012 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
  41. ItsASecret

    She's a very lucky young lady and doing well for herself. I'm sure she could laugh me all the way to the bank. I just don't care for her singing style. Her songs are very juvenile. But then...she IS 22.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Laur

    Nothing against her or her music, but she is earning that kind of money, REALLY? Apparently I'm too old to recognize talent!
    Better her than Beiber.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  43. pm

    I saw one of those in Wal-M*rt once and the next time I went down that isle, I could have swore that the doll had grown bigger!

    March 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  44. pm

    She has something we all don't...musical talent. I like skinny chicks, so I also thnk she's kind of hot. I don't listen to her music, unless it's playing and I don't even realize it. She must have gone to the Liz Taylor/Michael Jackson school of "Keep your name and pictures in all of the magazines every issue and you will make tons of money" classes at college.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  45. framous

    According to another report, Justin Beiber reported over 50Million for 2011.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Michelle

    Why is her hair so yucky and gross looking? I bet it smells.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  47. HRPufnstuf

    I'm Taylor Swift
    and I have pretty hair
    I write my own songs
    They all sound the same
    And I have pretty hair

    If you tick me off
    I'll write a song about you
    It will sound the same as the others
    and I have pretty hair

    I'm 22 going on 14
    I think what I say is relevant
    and I have pretty hair

    March 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Samurai Cowboy

    Taylor Swift. Music's biggest fraud. She can't sing. Her producers run her off key vocals thru Auto Tune. She lyp synchs to pre recorded Auto Tune vocals.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Plus she has ugly hair.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      Oh yea but I see 35.7 million reasons for your jealousy. She has more talent in her pinky fingernail than you would have have in 10 lifetimes so your just continue your hater!!! comments while those of us who actually love and adore her watch as she continues (for you unfortunately)to get bigger and bigger and better and better. So bakc to your Mcdonalds job and keep up the hating!!

      March 13, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  49. Richard Fore

    Funny that Adele is considered 'talented' . Ha, she is a fat cow!

    March 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-O

      But she IS a talented fat cow.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cashawk

      Talent has nothing to do with body size or your misguided idea regarding image.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmazedinFL

      What does Adele's weight have to do with her talent. I happen to think she's a much, much better singer than Taylor Swift with a far stronger voice. And I also think that morons like yourself who place body image above musical talent are the reason why there's so much garbage on the radio today. You obviously have an untrained ear so can only recognize 'talent' by whether or not someone looks good to you. What an incredibly superficial, shallow human being you are!

      March 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • deb

      Adele has an amazing singing voice....actual and real talent. Swift was created in a Nashville lab.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      And you i d i o t s are arguing with Fore-skin here? Jokes on you.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Arby

    She is a d_oo_dy

    March 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Arby

    She does have n_asty looking hair. Looks like it hasn't been washed in a year. Maybe she is turning crak ho

    March 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Put Down the Pipe

      It's meth...she doen't eat anymore.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      He says as he types into his iPhone as he rides the bus to his minimum wage paying Arby's job.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Steve-O

    You'd think she could afford a much needed vocal coach. Yikes!

    March 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      AMEN TO THAT!!!! I find it so alarming that this broad is making so much money on her (ahem) "singing". There must be a ton of tone-deaf people out there going to her concerts....UGH! Maybe she should try out Carrie Underwood's, Celine's or Adele's vocal coach...those women can SING!!!

      March 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • J-Dub

      Envy isn't pretty on you, Stevie-girl.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-Oh

      Jennifer: Maybe she's not the best singer, but she sells a lot of records and she sure can write - and writing is where the big money in music is. So, as you clock-in at your Starbucks job, remember that this young woman is worth close to $100,000,000. And you? A fifteen-year-old Honda Civic and an iPhone?

      March 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • miscreantsall

      Spot on about the vocal coach!!!!!!!!!

      You guys make me laugh. A good person? LOL…..like you have intimate knowledge of that?

      A good song writer? Maybe…….but mostly for her audience (young country girls and some cross over too).

      A good singer? nah………maybe an okay vocalist and entertainer….maybe!

      Pretty? sure!!!!

      March 13, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  53. Maria

    I wish I could sing and write music like her.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Luis Wu

    Taylor is not only very talented, but she's just a good human being as well.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  55. rharri

    I love to knock dat up. Spit out a half black half white kid with her.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  56. the_dude

    There sure are a lot of dumb idiots out there.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Yarah

    JN 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Darwin

      How utterly stupid.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fupped Duck

      Good luck with that......

      March 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmazedinFL

      Please post something relevant to the article rather than using the forum as a means of shoving your own religion down everyone else's throats.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  58. The Hook

    Swift is on a roll! And she's finally stopped dating half of Hollywood! Her "good girl" image was an absolute joke for a while there....

    March 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • CDOPHX

      Since when can't a young woman date around??? You're just assuming what went on was immoral... and according to your standards??? She's a better role than most.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Comfy chair

    What did she do to her hair? It looks like she washed it in the toilet.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      That's from the Grammy Award show. She was dressed in Appalachian clothes and the set looked like a "hoedown".

      March 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • CDOPHX

      An amazing accomplishment for a 22 year old. She did it without being sleezy too... AND that is all you have to say about it.. a dig about her hair??? Get out of that Comfy Chair and contribute something positive or get off the planet please.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Dos Eared Pedro

    I thought Richard Fore was gone. Where is Super Tracie ?

    March 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Two Eared Joe

    Thanks White Woman : )

    March 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Dan

    Good for Taylor, She is an amazing young woman.

    March 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Two Eared Joe

    Taylor Swift is a tremendous football player. I don't see why the article doesn't mention his prowess on the field as a pro running back.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  64. cnnlicksit@gmail.com


    March 12, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Pedro'

      Yeah. Why is her hair so ugly. She has a goofy looking face. At least she should try to fix up her hair and wear some decent clothes.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • dingwizard

      Her music is really good so it's no shock to me that she is one of the top money makers in music.

      March 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Pedro, your envy is so sad. Her hair? That's the best you could do?

      March 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lars Babaganoosh

      Good thing the only time I lhave to ook at her is when I see the back of her head, know what I mean?

      March 13, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • HollywoodSurF

      Highest Paid Radio Duo


      March 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |

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