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Britney Spears Highest Earning Musician in 2012, X-Factor Future Unknown

Britney Spears is the highest paid female musician of 2012, according to an earnings report released by Forbes. Spears raked in over $58 million in 2012, beating out Taylor Swift with $57 million.

The figures represent earnings from May 2011 to May 2012, a period where Spears released a #1 album, Femme Fatale, and went on a massive world tour.  To create the earnings rankings, Forbes complied income from record sales, touring, endorsements, merchandise and various business ventures. Tours are huge money makers, as they also tend to sell lots of merchandise. Many of the other top earners  also embarked on wildly successful international tours, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

Beyonce managed to make the list even with a relatively quiet 2011 and 2012.  She released 4 in early 2011, but did not tour to support the record, taking some time off to give birth to daughter Blue Ivy.

The rest of the Forbes list includes:

3. Rihanna, $54 million.
4. Lady Gaga, $52 million.
5. Katy Perry, $45 million.
6. Beyonce, $40 million.
7. Adele, $35 million.
8. Sade, $33 million.
9. Madonna, $30 million.
10. Shakira, $20 million.

A big chunk of Spears’s 2012 income was not even tabulated on the earnings list, her $15 million X Factor deal, which came after the time period Forbes analyzed.   Now, as X Factor winds down to the final 2 this week, Spears must decide whether to participate in a new season of the show next season. Producer (and fellow judge) Simon Cowell has been borderline ecstatic about her participation in press throughout the season, noting “The fact that she’s one of the most talked about—not just pop stars, but people—in the world today.”

Cowell continued, “She’s still hot, she’s still having hit records, and she’s still controversial. There’s a reason for that.”  Likely due to the platform of the show, Spears’s collaboration with “Scream and Shout” shot to the top of Billboard’s digital downloads chart.

While Spears has certainly brought buzz to X Factor, her subdued performance, at times feeling robotic and forced, begs the question of whether she will be offered a salary that high again. X Factor has seen a ratings increase, but not a leap. As Spears was considered an investment to boost ratings, it remains unclear whether she will be asked back.

Earlier this year, a reporter asked Spears if she would be interested in a second season (X Factor’s third overall) and she replied “definitely,” yet the show has made no formal announcement.

Cowell is known for keeping the judges’ table fresh on his shows, so anything is possible with the lineup. But one thing is for sure, Spears won’t come cheap.

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