Taylor Swift is the ‘highest paid celebrity,’ made $185 million in the past year

Taylor Swift returns home from Gigi Hadid's birthday in New York

Taylor Swift is the richest victim in the world! She really is. She’s a pretty, tall, enormously rich white lady who has convinced the world that everyone is out to get her, that no one wants to see her succeed, that she cannot live her life without mean bullies raking her over the coals over nothing that was ever her fault. In case you’re wondering just how successful Taylor’s snake act is, Tay once again tops Forbes’ list of top-earning celebrities.

Taylor Swift is the highest-paid celebrity of the past year, raking in a whopping $185 MILLION … which just might help her get over her “grossed out” feelings about losing her early catalog. Forbes dropped its Celebrity 100 list Wednesday, and Taylor tops the charts with the biggest earnings total of her career. The mag says her estimated pay increased an insane 131% from the year before, when she made a paltry $80 mil.

This marks the second time the singer has been top dog on The Celebrity 100 … she was also the top earner back in 2016, capturing the No. 1 spot with $170 million — thanks to The 1989 World Tour. Touring is filling Taylor’s coffers again this time around … the Reputation Stadium Tour broke her own record as the highest-grossing tour in the United States with an eye-popping $266.1 million. She also toured overseas, and those shows bring the tour’s overall income to $345 mil.

[From TMZ]

I always wonder about Forbes’ numbers and how they calculate all of that stuff – it would not surprise me at all if Taylor’s Reputation Tour grossed (in total) $345 million, but of course Taylor didn’t take home even half of that after costs, expenditures, salaries, travel, taxes and more. Besides, the biggest revenue for EVERY touring musical act is the merch, not ticket sales. Merchandise is where it’s at, which is probably why Taylor is now doing a clothing line. More merch, more money.

Speaking on money and how Taylor is loaded… questions remain about just how it came to be that Scooter Braun bought Taylor’s masters (through the purchase of Big Machine) and whether Taylor even sought to buy her masters at any point. Scooter Braun’s side is still saying that what he did was just business, and that… Taylor is still misrepresenting her knowledge of everything. From Us Weekly’s cover story:

Now they’ve got bad blood! Don’t expect Taylor Swift to work with music manager Scooter Braun any time soon. The “You Need to Calm Down” singer, 29, slammed the exec, 38, for purchasing her masters — but that might not be the whole story.

“Scooter has tried to reach Taylor though multiple channels,” a source tells Us exclusively. “He was really shocked at her response. Scooter won’t be commenting publicly about this… He wants to have a private, direct conversation with Taylor.”

The insider adds that Taylor’s version of events doesn’t match up with the timetable of the record label’s sale. “The potential sale of Big Machine, and Taylor’s renegotiation with Big Machine were widely reported and in that entire process,” adds the source. “Taylor didn’t reach out once about wanting her masters.”

[From Us Weekly]

Ever since Taylor posted her essay on her Tumblr two Sundays ago, I’ve wondered so much about the issue of Taylor buying her masters. I actually believe the root of what Taylor claimed, which is that she was offered the chance to own her masters if she renewed her contract with Big Machine. The particulars of that deal are disputed (and Scott Borchetta has the receipts to prove his side), but I actually kind of wonder if Taylor KNEW that she could force the issue and start a conversation about what kind of money she would have to pay to Big Machine to buy her masters. Her lawyer said that she wasn’t given the opportunity to bid on the masters, but… I wonder if she actually tried, or if she thought “I’m done with that” when she walked away from Big Machine.

Taylor Swift shows off her legs as she leaves her apartment in New York

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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21 Responses to “Taylor Swift is the ‘highest paid celebrity,’ made $185 million in the past year”

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  1. OSLO says:


  2. Capepopsie says:

    Yeah 😎

  3. I don’t believe she was given the opportunity to buy them outright, that would have gutted the worth of Big Machine.
    Her lawyer stated she was not given the opportunity to purchase the label.
    Both sides have discussed one deal… she that she could earn back one for one, he that she would only be tied to time. I would guess there were several options lobbied back and forth over the negotiations and each side presented what made their narrative look better.
    Her Dad isn’t on the board of directors, he’s a shareholder.
    I think she banked on her new label acquiring Big Machine and for whatever reasons it didn’t happen.

    Bottom line— the debate over masters will continue and it’s still BUSINESS.

  4. lucy2 says:

    She still sells huge tours, so I’m not surprised.

    I don’t know who is right or wrong in that situation, but it sucks that songwriters and singers don’t own their masters.

    • So cool says:

      Why? They are an employees like everyone. They have a contract. Does it sucks that engineers and creators who works for company doesn’t own masters to things they invented and crated? Not only TS worked on this songs. There’s are other writers, musicians, editors etc. So they all should have own masters to her songs?

      • Algernon says:

        If an employee creates something while employed, their name goes on the patent. The patent is theirs. The company may have exclusive use of the patent for a set period of time, but eventually it is going to revert fully to the employee who invented it. Thomas Edison avoided that by forcing his employees to put his name on their patents (which is why he has so many patents and was a source of his falling out with Tesla, who did not want to shared credit with Edison when Edison did no work). More recently, tech companies often “purchase” patents from creators with enormous payouts, which is why a person who writes one line of code that changes how an app works can end up with hundreds of millions of dollars, the company pays for the exclusive use of the patent. In that case, though, the patent remains the creator’s, and the company is “renting” it.

        What happens to musicians is the complete opposite. They do not own their work. A singer writes an album and it belongs to their label, and they almost never are given the opportunity to buy it back. It’s not a matter of “we own this for ten years and then it’s yours,” the label owns it in perpetuity. Taylor’s new contract was a big deal specifically because she set a precedent for musicians to own their work, because right now it is basically impossible. Inventors are at least favored in ownership of their patents. They might have to let their employer use it exclusively for a while, but ultimately, it is theirs. Musicians are not given the same deal.

      • lucy2 says:

        Thanks Algernon, that’s a good explanation.
        Another issue is that the label can sell the work to be used commercially, in a way that the artist might not agree with.
        With highly produced music involving many people, I’m sure it’s much more complicated, but my gut feeling is that if someone wrote and performed a song, they should have ownership of it.

      • Kate says:

        At least for one album (Speak Now), she did not work with anyone else on the song lyrics but it’s an interesting question of who owns something when there are multiple collaborators. However still don’t think that the label itself was part of the creation process, believe they are more involved in the promotion and marketing process after the song/album has been created, so even if it should belong to all of the creators it still doesn’t mean it should belong to the record label imo.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Kate

        You’re talking about two different things, royalties and the master tape. Royalties are shared between all collaborators on any given piece of music (there’s a real scandal with singers who get listed as songwriters just to get a bigger cut of royalties, as songwriters get the most. Not what Taylor does, but a lot of popstars are listed as songwriters solely for more royalty cash). The master tape, though, is considered the performer’s, because it is the tape of them singing that song. For instance, the master tape of Michael Buble singing “Fly me to the moon” is considered Michael Buble’s tape, even though he didn’t write the song, because it is his recording of it. Taylor shares royalties with anyone she collaborates with, but the masters are considered hers. That’s the whole issue, they’re her masters, but she doesn’t have physical custody of them. It’s like if you built a house you’re not allowed to live in.

  5. Alexis37 says:

    Oh I like Taylor. It’s a bit much how much people go after her.

  6. Valiantly Varnished says:

    And Rihanna is still the richest female singer in the world. So I’m good.

  7. Sheamus says:

    Question: I clicked on the “clothing line” link and saw her merch shop. Every single item for sale comes with a digital copy of her album. Just curious, does that mean if one person bought 3 merch items, would that count as 3 album sales for Taylor? If so, that seems like a ridiculous way to bloat album sale numbers…

  8. Michelle says:

    Just wanted to comment that the biggest source of revenue and especially not for “every” touring band/musician is absolutely not merchandise. It’s even less true for large, stadium-selling artists like Taylor. The clothing line is likely because she wants that to be part of her brand and, of course, another revenue stream…but stadium tours are where the money is. I think you might be confusing the “tours are where the money is at for artists – not sales/streaming” trope which can also be false for artists that make most of their money with sync & sponsorships.
    [source: musician that tours with other musicians]

  9. Alberto Delano Cox says:

    So, I’m totally on the side of the artist wanting ownership of their creation, with the Label/Publisher/Studio acting first as a distributor, yaddi yadda yadda.
    But Taylor, girl, you’re supposed to be a boss businesswoman, how the hell did you screw this one up? You weren’t simply the “most important” artist in BLMG, you were BLMG. Sure, they have some other high profile art… who are we kidding? The rest of the catalogue is mostly country artists, they have a niche, but nobody listens to country outside the US, Canada and Australia. Only Taylor actually matters, she was in a perfect position to negotiate not a new deal with BLMG, but to become a majority owner of BLMG! She could’ve done the deal while signing for UMG, incorporating them as minority partners! Everybody would win! Her parents are hedge fund and wealth managers, they should know this!
    I mean, seriously, has all the work and finessing of every Rap Mogul ever counted for nought?

  10. The Hench says:

    I know she’s got a lot of money and everything but probably someone should warn her about the pickpocket coming in from the right in that photo….

  11. Nova says:

    Congratulations to Taylor. The woman works hard and deserves the coins.