Celebrity Money Gurus: Taylor Swift highest-earning in pop

Sarah Coles
taylor swift at the 2011...
taylor swift at the 2011...

Taylor Swift may not be as cool as Beyonce, as funky as Justin Timberlake, or as much of a music legend as the Rolling Stones, but according to Billboard she out-earned them all last year - by a significant margin.

Her $40 million haul (excluding the huge chunk of cash she makes from merchandising, branding and sponsorship), put her more than $8 million ahead of Timberlake, $14 million ahead of the Stones, and an impressive $16 million ahead of Beyonce. And she did this by breaking the most important rule in pop music - by being decidedly uncool.

Swift was presented with shocking evidence of how she measured up to Beyonce in the swag stakes when Kanye West felt compelled to jump on stage at the VMAs five years ago and declare that her winning video wasn't a patch on the far cooler video for Beyonce's 'All The Single Ladies'. The incident brought her the pity of music fans around the world, but you can't build a fortune on pity.

Instead, she built her appeal on country. Country fans actively welcome a pop star who is willing to play a banjo on stage, and are fanatically willing to put their money where their mouth is. In the same year Swift only actually made it to number two in the Forbes list of country music's highest earners - behind Toby Keith - and yet beat the pop world hands down.

She also crossed over into pop. It's a diverse world, where stars such as Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus can build a reputation on being outrageous, and yet there's plenty of room for clean cut stars like One Direction, the Jonas Brothers and Sting.

Sales figures
The combination has meant overwhelming album sales figures. The album sales figures used by Billboard were calculated on Swift's last album - released in 2012 - which still had her eighth in terms of album sales when the Billboard boffins were compiling the list. She was also sixth in terms of downloads and fifth in streaming royalties. Her fifth album is released this year and has already broken Billboard album sales records.

However, where she has really coined it on is on tour. In ticket sales alone touring the US for six months in 2013 pulled in an astonishing $30 million. This puts her head and shoulders above the others on the list. When you add in the fact the tour was also sponsored by Keds, Elizabeth Arden and Diet Coke (which isn't included in the calculations) plus merchandise sales of an estimated $17 per head, she is thought to have made closer to $64 million on the tour.

Bigger picture
These figures don't give us the whole picture. Beyonce's Mrs Carter tour was running simultaneously, and was said to have made more than $100 million when all the sponsorship, endorsement and merchandise was factored into the figures. It's one of the reasons why Forbes puts Beyonce in first position in its Celebrity 100 - based on fame and wealth - while Swift only makes it to number 18.

It seems as though being resolutely uncool will do nothing to stop you coining in millions for selling your music. So you can sit happily at number 18 in the Celebrity 100 and count your fortune.

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