You don't want to screw with Taylor Swift. Virtually every confirmed -- or rumored -- romance she has ends up in lyrics to one of her songs. John Mayer? Check. Joe Jonas? Hell, yeah. Yet as much as it may hurt the doe-eyed Swift and her good intentions, having her heart broken -- much like Adele -- has proved very, very lucrative. In 2011, Swift netted a hefty $35,719,902. Take another look at that figure. And another look. It's a whopper, isn't it?
That's why no one -- except maybe Joe Jonas -- was shocked last week when Billboard announced Swift as music's top earner last year, putting her at the top of its Top 40 Money Makers 2012 list. What an accomplishment, too, since Swift hasn't released any new material since 2010's Speak Now, unless you count that track she contributed to The Hunger Games soundtrack, "Safe and Sound," released on December 23.
Swift's rank at the top just goes to prove how well scorned women are doing right now in pop. Look at Adele: She's had her heart chewed up and spat out twice now...and has two ex-boyfriends to thank for her eight Grammys. Then there's Katy Perry, whose new single, "Part of Me," though not written about her divorce from Russell Brand, could not have been released at a better time; it debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Swift, however, doesn't have to worry about competition from either of these women, as neither Perry nor Adele even landed in the top five of Billboard's top earners. Adele placed tenth and Perry thirteenth, with $25 million earned between the two of them. That's $12 million less than Swift pocketed on her own. Pretty good for a woman who just turned 22 in December.
While physical and digital sales help bolster a musician's overall income for the year, touring and ticket sales are really where the money's at. Swift's tour alone gave her $29.8 million (of the $88.5 million grossed), or 29.8 million reasons she won the breakup battle between her and Joe, and her and John.
Swift's closest female competitor, Lady Gaga, ranked at number four on the list, taking home $25.3 million. While Gaga moved 12.7 million digital tracks, it was her Monster Ball world tour, which ended in May, that gave her the biggest payoff. In total, Gaga grossed $51.4 million. The only other act to break the $30 million mark was U2, pulling in $32.1 million thanks to its international 360° tour, which stopped in Denver last May.
This time next year, expect to see Adele in the top three -- seeing a surge from album sales, singles sales and tickets. Though Perry will likely have another strong year for sales, since she is re-releasing her record-breaking album Teenage Dream in two weeks, her spot among the top earners may drop if she doesn't go on tour (that won't happen) or release an album's worth of new material -- which is not likely, unless the speculated follow-up single to "Part of Me," called "Dressin' Up," sinks and her label pushes for new music in the fall.
Swift, on the other hand, is due for a new album sometime this year, and Gaga has made mention of a possible release in the fall or later. Expect to see them both rank near or at the top of next year's list.
The Top 10 Money Makers 2012
10. Adele: $13,081,909 9. Jason Aldean: $13,409,011 8. Celine Dion: $14,261,515 7. Bon Jovi: $15,835,856 6. Sade: $16,382,809 5. Lil Wayne: $23,178,722 4. Lady Gaga: $25,353,039 3. Kenny Chesney: $29,837,103 2. U2: $32,116,315 1. Taylor Swift: $35,719,902
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.