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It's a great time to be an independent young woman in pop music -- particularly if you happen to be Taylor Swift! The 22-year-old singer has earned the no. 1 spot on this year's Billboard list of Music's Top 40 Money Makers -- beating Lady Gaga (last year's no. 1, now no. 4), Adele (no. 10), and even veteran acts like U2 (who came in second).
According to Billboard's calculations, Swift took in a whopping $35.7 million in 2011. How did she do it? Here's the run-down:
Album sales: Swift's 2010 album Speak Now continues to fly off shelves and into MP3 collections, thanks to singles like "Mean" and "The Story of Us." Because Swift is a crossover artist claimed by both country and pop fans, she gets airplay on a whole lot more stations than most artists-- and therefore, sells more records.
Touring: This is how most musicians make the big bucks, and Taylor is no exception. Her Speak Now tour, which took her around the world, grossed $88.5 million in the United States alone.
Royalties: Here's the thing that really separates Swift from the competition. While it's not unusual for singers to share writing credit on their albums, few of them write their songs without a producer or a collaborator. Taylor, however, wrote every single one of the 14 songs on Speak Now by herself -- which gives her an edge when it comes to songwriting royalties.
So that's how Taylor did it. You might have expected Adele, whose 21 is now the longest-running no. 1 album in history, to have given her more competition -- but she fell behind after canceling all those sold-out tour dates because of a vocal cord injury. As for Gaga, she released a new hit album but did less touring in 2011, after being on the road for her epic Monster Ball Tour for over a year. (The Born This Way Ball kicks off in April.)
Other major money makers who cracked the Top 10: Kenny Chesney (3), Lil Wayne (5), Bon Jovi (6), Sade (7), Celine Dion (8) and Jason Aldean (9). The Glee cast came in at no. 11, though you wonder how much of that money they're actually seeing. And proving that you don't have to be touring (or even alive) to rake in the cash, The Beatles came in at no. 24 -- thanks largely to their songs being newly released on iTunes.