Beyonce Knowles is a perfectionist. That's how she rakes in $87 million a year.
Her diversified portfolio helps her land at number 4 on the FORBES Celebrity 100 list, a ranking based on income and visibility
On a crisp Thursday evening in late April a Cadillac Escalade barrels down a cross street in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, coming to a halt before the School of Visual Arts. Four-and-a-half-inch heels emerge, then the rest of Beyoncé Knowles, wearing a crowd-delighting, hip-hugging, black-sequined Balmain dress. Flashbulbs and shrieks explode from a gathering in the hundreds. The 27-year-old singer is there to promote Obsessed, a movie thriller she's been plugging relentlessly since the beginning of the week. Beyoncé works the crowd for 45 minutes before heading into the theater. With two bodyguards, a publicist and a stylist alongside, she takes questions from the press. Yes, she did get bruised while filming the fight scene. That hoax, where Howard Stern played a distorted version of "If I Were a Boy," making her sound grotesquely off-key--oh, that was silly.
After the premiere Beyoncé headed to a party at the Bowery Hotel. It had been quite a day. Call time at the Today show was 6 a.m. to rehearse and get made up for a live interview and performance. After that she appears on The View (11 a.m.) before heading over to tape Larry King [not quite] Live, followed by 106 & Park at BET. She has a few hours to herself at a downtown apartment.
That's the way much of her life has played out for the past 20 years--one reason she has sold upward of 118 million records, won ten Grammys, starred in seven films and headlined three solo tours. This year she will bring in an estimated $87 million from publishing and music sales, touring and other performances, film work, her fashion collection and endorsement deals. That diversified portfolio helps her land at number 4 on the FORBES Celebrity 100 list, a ranking based on income and visibility. Beyoncé constantly works and reworks her act, watching every two-hour performance on tour--even after her hundredth appearance--taking notes on how to improve. "I'm never satisfied," she says, adding with a nervous laugh, "I'm sure sometimes it's not easy working for me." Then, seriously: "I've never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry."
In Pictures: How Beyonce Makes Her Millions
Such diligence invites comparison with another 27-year-old at the top of the charts. Britney Spears is a study in contrast. After peaking early she has demonstrated a spectacular capacity for melting down. (Spears, number 13 on our list, is back on tour--and reportedly on medication.) "I've worked too hard and sacrificed too much to do something silly that would mess up the brand I've created all of these years," says Beyoncé. To say nothing of the jobs of the roughly 400 people who work for her or her enterprises.
Beyoncé grew up in a four-bedroom home in Houston's upscale third ward with her father, Mathew, a salesman at Xerox ( XRX - news - people ) (later at Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ - news - people )); mother, Tina, a hair salon owner; and younger sister, Solange, now a singer. A dance teacher spotted Beyoncé and encouraged the shy first-grader to enroll in her school's talent show--the first of three dozen competitions she won over the next few years. At age 9 Beyoncé joined and devoted every spare minute to an R&B group called Girlz Tyme, which didn't produce an album but did make it to Star Search.
Touring and Merchandise:
Following up on Beyoncé's chart topping I Am… Sasha Fierce album, the superstar and her alter-ego kicked off the European leg of their 110-date international tour with a sold-out performance in Zagreb, Croatia. Other spring tour stops include Lisbon, Portugal; Zurich, Switzerland; and Barcelona, Spain, before she returns home to the U.S. later this month.
General Mills, which has teamed up with Feeding America, is among the sponsors for Beyoncé's "I Am..." tour. Among the efforts: Concertgoers are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items. Other tour sponsors include Nintendo DSi, Trident gum and L'Oréal.
At a time when album sales have dropped 45% since their peak in 2000, Beyoncé managed to sell 4.5 million albums during the 12-month period. She also cashed in on the sale of some 300,000 digital albums and 9.5 million digital singles as well as 1 million ringbacks and 2.6 million ringtones.
In addition to belting out her tunes, the multiple-Grammy winning artist is frequently involved in writing and producing her own music. In fact, she had a hand in both for nearly all of the 17 songs on her latest deluxe album. Over the course of Beyoncé's career, both with Destiny's Child and as a solo artist, the songstress has been known to incorporate themes of female empowerment.
In addition to serving as a producer on the flick, Beyoncé portrayed the once drug-addicted Etta James in 2008's critically acclaimed Cadillac Records. After getting into character with visits to Phoenix House, the singer-turned-actress donated her acting salary to the substance abuse treatment and prevention agency. This spring, she played the wife of a stalked man in a Basic Instinct-style thriller from Sony Screen Gems, Obsessed.
Beyoncé lends her bold-faced name and marketable face to a host of brands, including L'Oréal, Giorgio Armani Diamonds perfume and Samantha Thavasa handbags. In the last year, she's added deals with Crystal Geyser and Nintendo DSi to her résumé.
Beyoncé, along with her mother Tina, offers her fashionable eye and design expertise to two labels, House of Deréon (includes evening and cocktail dresses) and the more casual Deréon (includes sportswear, handbags and jewelry). The multi-platform star is featured in the company's national ad campaigns.
HATERZ, STEP BACK.
QUEEN CREOLES WIG IS ALWAYS INTACT.