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Taylor Swift is known for many things: her chart-topping hits and a long list of ex-boyfriends among them. But now she is earning a reputation as an advocate for artists, songwriters and producers, taking on tech giant Apple for not paying those professionals during a three month free trial for its new music streaming service. Over the weekend, Apple caved, saying it would be paying royalties after all during the free trial.
Swift's triumph against Apple is just the latest success for the singer as she carves out a name for herself as a multi-million dollar powerhouse.
Love her or hate her, the country turned pop singer is laughing all the way to the bank. The 25-year-old has a net worth of almost $200 million; a combination of the artist's impressive album and tour sales, real estate holdings, and endorsement deals, according to Vulture.
Forbes reported that Swift made $64 million between January and July of 2014. No doubt that figure has greatly increased after the October release of "1989," which sold 1.3 million copies in the first week of its release. The album was the first to go platinum in 2014, and has remained at the top of Billboard's albums chart for the last five weeks.
Having sold more than 2.7 million copies in its six week run, "1989" may surpass Disney's "Frozen" soundtrack, which has sold almost 3.4 million copies since its release in January and became this year's biggest selling album.
Additionally, Swift's Red Tour garnered more than $150 million in revenue during its 15 month run. The tour earned Swift almost $40 million alone from touring, album sales, royalties, and streaming fees, and that's just in the U.S., according to Billboard.
At only 25, Swift owns $86 million worth of real estate including a waterfront mansion in Rhode Island, a three bedroom house in Beverly Hills, and a Tribeca penthouse. She has made over $33 million from endorsements with Diet Coke, CoverGirl, Keds, Sony, Elizabeth Arden, L.e.i Jeans, and American Greetings.
"Brands are built by things that are highly differentiated." said Austin McGhie, president of Sterling Brand Strategy Group and author of the book "Brand is a Four Letter Word."
Taylor Swift "is kind of unique. A lot of music is about pushing back against culture and she is much more about embracing culture… She's got all the right attributes," McGhie said. "She's smart, she's attractive, she writes her own songs, she's vulnerable. She's got a universal appeal."
Swift, whose father is bank president and mother a former marketing executive, made headlines in October when she pulled her entire album catalog from music streaming service Spotify. That prompted The Guardian to include the young artist in the number 10 slot on their 100 Most Powerful People in UK's Media.
The media outlet noted: "Swift has sold more than 30 million albums. But she only came to our attention when she pulled her back catalog from Spotify, almost single-handedly bringing the issue of artist remuneration into the spotlight. Swift was one of Spotify's most popular artists, with 25 percent of listeners having streamed her songs. Her decision to withdraw her music was described as brave by some and reckless by others."
The seven-time Grammy winner was most recently named Billboard's 2014 Woman of the Year for the second time in her career; a feat that no other artist has achieved. The award goes to a female artist who "has shaped and inspired the music industry with her success, leadership and innovation over the past twelve months."
Swift has charted 60 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 since 2006. Her latest hit "Blank Space" took the top spot in November and displaced her other hit tune, "Shake It Off." She is the first woman in the history of the Hot 100 to beat herself for the top spot. She is also the only artist to have two number 1 hits on the list in 2014.
The singer was on the short list for Time's Person of the Year alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Ultimately, Ebola caregivers were honored with the title and coveted cover.
"She has become a cultural icon,' said Sterling's McGhie. "She's 25 but she does seem to be transcending music and becoming this icon."