Many men and women dream of one day becoming a professional singer, but only few ever accomplish that dream.
Even fewer people are fortunate enough to go on to become global megastars, selling millions of records, topping the music charts and selling out the world’s biggest stadiums in the process.
These 10 women did just that – and they made millions along the way.
Join us as we count down the 10 highest-paid female singers in the world, according to Forbes’s latest rankings, and find out how they made their hard-earned money between 2018 and 2019.
2018–2019 earnings: $35 million
Although she suffered a vocal cord haemorrhage in late 2017, forcing her to postpone the start of her El Dorado World Tour, Shakira more than made up for it when she returned to the stage in June 2018. She went on to perform 54 shows across Europe, Asia and the Americas, grossing more than $75 million and securing herself a spot in the top 10 of the highest-paid female singers in the process.
The Colombian singer pretty much laid low for the rest of the 2018–2019 scoring period, but she has big plans for 2020: to perform alongside Jennifer Lopez (who also appears on the list) at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show.
9. Céline Dion
2018–2019 earnings: $37.5 million
Céline Dion, it seems, is still as relevant today as she was back in 1990s when she dominated the global charts with a string of hits including ‘The Power of Love’, ‘Because You Loved Me’ and, of course, that song from Titanic. Three decades on, she doesn’t seem to be slowing down!
Last year was a busy one for the Canadian singer who, a few months after closing an eight-year residency show in Las Vegas, embarked on a world tour to support her latest musical offering Courage. The Courage World Tour, which only started in September, has so far been a critical and commercial success, having amassed over $33 million from the first 19 shows alone.
Though she made most of her earnings from touring and her Las Vegas show, the Queen of Power Ballads also landed her first ever beauty deal with L’Oréal Paris in April 2019 for an unspecified – though highly lucrative, we assume – sum.
8. Lady Gaga
2018–2019 earnings: $39.5 million
Lady Gaga, better known as Mother Monster among her scores of fans, has certainly been busy over the past year. Indeed, since late 2018, she’s been juggling not one but two residency shows at the Park Theatre in Las Vegas (Enigma, and Jazz and Piano), earning an estimated $725,000 per show.
The New York-born musician, meanwhile, has gradually ventured into acting and scored her first leading role in 2018’s musical romantic drama film A Star Is Born, for which she was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category (ultimately losing out to Olivia Colman). She reportedly made between $5 million and $10 million from the film’s profits, a staggering $434 million on a $36 million production budget.
7. Jennifer Lopez
2018–2019 earnings: $43 million
Though she may have fallen one spot from last year’s rankings, Jennifer Lopez still made enough money in the 2018–2019 scoring period to make it onto this year’s list of the highest-paid female singers in the world.
In September 2018, Jenny from the Block concluded her Las Vegas residency show All I Have, grossing more than $100 million in ticket sales over its three-year run. She then went on to star in the comedy film Second Act (which grossed $72.3 million at the box office) and returned as a judge and executive producer for the third season of World of Dance (for which she earned an estimated $20 million).
Two decades on since the release of her smash hit ‘Let’s Get Loud’, J.Lo’s career doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon! She’s also scheduled to perform at the Superbowl halftime show with Shakira in 2020.
6. Ariana Grande
2018–2019 earnings: $48 million
Ariana Grande has only been around in the music scene for a little over six years now, but in that short time she has accomplished so much. She released 5 chart-topping albums (including 2019’s Sweetener, for which she won her first Grammy Award), sold over 5.2 million albums worldwide, amassed 14 Top 10 singles in the US alone, and was honoured with 7 Guinness World Record titles (including the most streamed female artist on Spotify in 2018).
Most of the Queen of Musical Impressions’ earnings come from touring, having grossed about $1 million for each of the 35 shows performed on her Sweetener World Tour. In April 2019, meanwhile, she became the youngest and only the fourth female artist ever to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, taking home a reported $8 million.
2018–2019 earnings: $57 million
Following the release of her 2017 album Beautiful Trauma, P!nk (born Alecia Moore) embarked on a show-stopping world tour that combined powerhouse vocals with stunning acrobatics and endless pyrotechnics. It became the second highest-grossing tour by a female artist of all time (behind Madonna’s 2008–2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour), with $397.3 million in ticket revenue. During Forbes’s scoring period, the ‘Stupid Girls’ singer played 81 shows in North America and Oceania, grossing an estimated $3 million per show.
Since the tour’s conclusion in November last year, P!nk announced she would be taking a break from music to focus on her family.
4. Katy Perry
2018–2019 earnings: $57.5 million
Katy Perry took the world by storm when she released her chart-topping hit ‘I Kissed a Girl’ back in 2008, and almost 12 years later, she’s anything but slowing down.
The five-time Billboard Music Award winner embarked on a 115-date world tour in late 2017 to support her album Witness, with stops in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Americas. In Forbes’s scoring period, Perry played 37 dates, grossing about $1 million per show.
Perry also signed a $25 million contract to return as a judge for the 17th season of American Idol, which was broadcast between March and May 2019. She is set to return to the show again for its 18th season in 2020.
2018–2019 earnings: $62 million
Best known for hits like ‘Diamonds’, ‘Pon de Replay’ and ‘Umbrella’, Rihanna made most of her money between 2018 and 2019 from Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics brand under LVMH, which reportedly grossed over $570 million in revenue by the end of 2018. Other sources of income include sales from her Savage X Fenty lingerie line, while she also launched her very own fashion house, Fenty, in May 2019.
Meanwhile, the Barbadian singer is also planning to release her ninth studio album in 2020, her first since 2016’s Anti.
Besides Shakira and Céline Dion, Rihanna is the only non-American to appear on the list and the only one in the Top 5.
2018–2019 earnings: $81 million
As one of the most powerful women in the entertainment industry, it’s no surprise to see Beyoncé on the list, who’s had quite a busy year.
Beginning in June 2018 and until October that year, she co-headlined a 45-date stadium tour with her husband Jay-Z, which grossed about $5 million per show. The singer turned actress turned entrepreneur then partnered with Adidas to relaunch her activewear clothing line Ivy Park, which aims to also put out shoes, lifestyle apparel and performance gear in 2020.
Queen Bey later went to star in the voiceover role of Nala in the remake of Disney’s 1994 The Lion King, which earned her a People’s Choice Award for Animated Movie Star.
1. Taylor Swift
2018–2019 earnings: $185 million
In first place on this year’s list of the highest-paid female singers is none other than Taylor Swift, knocking Katy Perry off the top spot from last year’s rankings.
The ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ singer embarked on her Reputation World Tour in May 2018, which ran for 53 concerts across Europe, Oceania and North America. It grossed $345.7 million at the global box office, including $266.1 million in the US alone – making it the highest-grossing tour in US history. She also made money from a string of product endorsements, including for AT&T and Fujifilm, as well as from sales for her seventh album, Lover.
Swift is also the highest-paid celebrity across all stripes, according to Forbes, a feat she first achieved back in 2016.
All these 10 ladies have certainly enjoyed incredible success on a global scale, both on and off the music charts – and they have their bank balances to prove it.
But will they maintain that success next year?
What are your predictions for the 2019–2020 period? Do you think we’ll see these ladies on Forbes’s next ranking of the highest-paid female singers in the world? Or will newcomer talent like Billie Eilish and Jessie Reyez take their spots?
Join the conversation down below and let us know, and don’t forget to check out our countdown of the highest-paid male singers!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 16 February 2018.