5 Black Eyed Peas ($48 million)
Ok, technically these guys have to split the cash and it’s one woman and a bunch of dudes but come on now — it’s Fergie! She’s kind of a big deal. They played the Super Bowl, remember that? They’re also one of the best bands to play on a road trip, and you know you’ve danced to them alone in your room. Their world tour earned about $800,000 a night and they’re raking it in on endorsement deals: Honda, Target, Bacardi, and Apple. Do they have no shame? Perhaps not, but they have a lot of dang money.
4 Madonna ($58 million)
The Material Girl isn’t quite ready to cede her spot in pop music’s hierarchy to Lady Gaga or Britney Spears just yet. The 52-year-old singer had the fourth highest-grossing tour of 2009, bringing in $6 million a night and $138 million overall. An episode of the Fox hit sitcom Glee, which featured cast members singing several of her songs, added to her already high profile and cushioned her significant earnings from publishing royalties.
3 Lady Gaga ($62 million)
It’s funny to think that not too long ago, Gaga wasn’t a household name. In 2010 she was new to the Forbes list but she made her mark coming in as the third highest earner of the women. Outlandish outfits and quirky videos, including one that featured her and Beyonce poisoning an unappreciative boyfriend, paid off well. With a 106-date tour that grossed $95 million, Lady Gaga is also a marketer’s dream, teaming up with Polaroid, Virgin Mobile, Monster Cable and Viva Glam, to keep the money flowing.
2 Britney Spears ($64 million)
We all remember the nutso Britney of a few years back, jabbing umbrellas at things, shaving her head, having kids with Kevin Federline? She’s still got a crazy fan base (no pun intended) and people just love seeing Brit tear it up on stage, whether she’s lip syncing or not. Her tour was the fifth highest grossing in the world and went for 98 dates, raking in $130 million. When she’s not going on Starbucks runs (seriously, in the tabloids she is always drinking some Starbucks thing – here are other coffee shops, Brit), she’s collecting cash from her endorsement deals. It says a lot of you’re able to have a public meltdown and come back so strong. Got to give the girl props.
1 Beyonce ($87 million)
This woman doesn’t quit, and her status as one of the top earning female entertainers is proof. She’s part of the superstar power couple who are basically the King and Queen of hip hop, and she’s got deals with Nintendo, L’Oreal and more. Plus, she has her own fashion line, House of Dereon, that brings in millions a year (who are these people buying this stuff?). Her 93-show tour brought in $86 million.
So what do you think? Who’s your favorite artist on this list?