Back in 2015, when Katy Perry appeared on the cover of Forbes after earning $135 million in a single year, she knew she'd secured her place in the pop star firmament—and wouldn't ever have to worry about fading into oblivion. "I don't feel like my career is a ticking time bomb," she said. "I don't feel like I'll always have to be feeding the meter of show business. I got my spot, yo."
Three years later, Perry has proved herself right: She's the highest-paid woman in music, pulling in $83 million pretax during our scoring period. One of the hardest-working names on the list, Perry played 80 dates of her Witness: The Tour in Forbes' June-to-June timeframe, grossing over $1 million per night. She also managed to find time to serve as a judge on ABC's American Idol reboot, reportedly earning north of $20 million for her troubles.
Taylor Swift ranks second with $80 million. The superstar songstress briefly disappeared from social media last year before roaring back with the launch of new album Reputation, which sold two million copies worldwide in its opening week. The only reason she didn’t claim the top spot on this list? Most of her Reputation Stadium Tourdates fell just outside this year’s scoring period.
Beyoncé rounds out the top three, pulling in $60 million. After she and husband Jay-Z welcomed twins Rumi and Sir to the family in June 2017, Queen Bey had a quiet year, by her standards, until delivering a groundbreaking performance at Coachella this spring and dropping a joint album with Jay-Z in June. Much of this summer’s On The Run II, their second stadium tour together, will be reflected in our next scoring period—boosted by an inevitable deluge of new moneymaking opportunities.
"I'm never satisfied," she once told Forbes. "I’ve never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry."
Of course, making music isn't the only way these musicians are making bank. Lady Gaga (No. 5, $50 million) added “movie star” to her résumé this year, thanks to a critically acclaimed turn in A Star Is Born alongside Bradley Cooper. Rihanna (No. 7, $37.5 million) is cashing in on Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie, and although she hasn't been on tour since 2016, Rihanna stays in the public eye with starring roles in films like Ocean's 8.
There were plenty of female musicians who had lucrative years but didn’t quite make the list. Among them: Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, Selena Gomez, Madonna, Halsey and Janet Jackson, all of whom tallied double-digit millions. They'll look to crack the top 10 next year.
"That's the best thing about being a musician," said Halsey. "You get to constantly show the world how you've changed and how you've grown. And you get to say, 'Hey, look at me, look at how much better I am now than I used to be.'"
- Katy Perry ($83 million)
- Taylor Swift ($80 million)
- Beyoncé ($60 million)
- Pink ($52 million)
- Lady Gaga ($50 million)
- Jennifer Lopez ($47 million)
- Rihanna ($37.5 million)
- Helene Fischer ($32 million)
- Celine Dion ($31 million)
- Britney Spears ($30 million)
Figures are for pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018, before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers. Sources include Nielsen SoundScan, NPD BookScan, insider interviews and Forbes estimates. Additional reporting by Natalie Robehmed and Rebecca Lerner.