The list is out and Taylor Swift is on top, ousting veteran’s like U2 and hot tickets like Lady Gaga and Adele, to be Billboard’s top earning artist of 2012. How did she do it? The list is based on trackable income from 2011 including album sales, tour earnings, publishing royalties, and payments from digital services like YouTube and Spotify.

Billboard’s chart doesn’t account for income due to endorsements, non-traditional income deals, or investments. Swift undoubtedly makes more than Billboard reports, with endorsement deals with Cover Girl, Sony electronics, and from her Wonderstruck perfume. Add on extra income from voicing Audrey in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and residual payments for Valentine’s Day and Swift’s total would certainly shoot up. And only U.S. income is included in the tally so add to Swift’s calculated $35.7 million dollars similar income abroad and watch her total easily double.

This year Swift leads the pack, being out U2 in second place by $3.6 million dollars. The top two are followed by country star Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga, and Lil’ Wayne. Swift checked in at #6 on the 2011 list. In that year Lady Gaga held down the top spot with Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Dave Matthews, and Justin Bieber filling out the top five.

A few names that might surprise on the 2012 list are Sade, at #6, and Celine Dion, at #8. Both legacy artists beat out Adele, who checked in at #10 but undoubtedly would have placed higher had her health issues not prohibited her from touring for the second half of 2011.


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