Madonna Is Top Earning Woman in Music

Pop star's 'MDNA' tour helped her bring in a whopping $125 million this year

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
December 12, 2013 12:55 PM ET

Madonna has topped Forbes' 2013 list of the top-earning women in music, pulling in a staggering $125 million this year. The bulk of Madonna's earnings came from the last leg of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million overall; she also sees income from merchandise sales, her Material Girl clothing line and her fragrance, Truth or Dare. 

Madonna's reign at the top should perhaps come as no surprise – she was named the highest earner in all of music at the end of November, and this past August she was named the highest earner among all celebrities, again, on the strength of her merch sales and tour earnings.

Lady Gaga, one of Madonna's many progeny, found herself in the number two spot on Forbes' list of the highest earning women in music, raking in $80 million. That number is particularly impressive when you take into account that it was calculated not just before the release of her latest record, Artpop, but it also includes earnings from her Born This Way Ball tour, which was shortened after the pop star had to cancel a number of shows due to an injured hip that required surgery.

Tour Madonna's Former Stomping Grounds in New York's Lower East Side in 1983

Taylor Swift lands at number three on the Forbes list, bringing in $55 million thanks to the huge sales of her last record, Red (1.2 million in its first week), while Beyoncé landed in the fourth spot with $53 million, thanks to this year's Mrs. Carter World Tour. Having jumped from the judges' table on American Idol to a world tour, Jennifer Lopez brought in $45 million to round out the top five.

The rest of the top 10 for female earners in music includes Rihanna ($43 million), Katy Perry ($39 million), Pink ($32 million), Carrie Underwood ($31 million) and Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, who tied for the 10th spot with $29 million each.

The Forbes list was culled from artists' incomes between June 1st, 2012 and June 1st, 2013. The total figures include concert ticket sales, royalties for recorded music and publishing, merchandise sales, endorsement deals and other big business ventures.

While the top two spots on the Forbes list of top earners among all musicians were both women, only seven others appeared among the top 25. According to entertainment lawyer Lori Landew of Fox Rothschild, that discrepancy could be attributed to a handful of factors: "This may be due to some unspoken double-standard that does not place as much of a premium on how men look on stage in contrast to women, who are so often judged on their looks as well as their talent," she said. "Or it may be due to the fact that women choose to opt out of the musical rat race before men do for personal reasons. Whatever the cause, the result seems to be careers cut short for many women in music who might otherwise go on to influence, entertain and earn."

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