By Anne Holub / PayScale
December 28, 2015
Taylor Swift, Beyoncé Knowles and Katy Perry
Taylor Swift, Beyoncé Knowles and Katy Perry
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (2); AP (1)

Even though most of us can’t compare to the highest-paid women in the music industry in 2015, we can still learn something from their business savvy and success. Forbes has details on the top earners, and we offer some tips on what some of them have done so well in 2015, even though none of them even released an album last year.

Katy Perry ($135 million)

While 2015 started out with Katy Perry performing at the Super Bowl, what most of us remember from that feat was a crazy dancing Left Shark. The year ended with her not putting out a new album, but with a mobile game (which isn’t doing too well). Still, look at Katy Perry shine! She still has brought in more money this year than the other ladies in this category, and that’s saying quite a bit when we look at No. 2.

Lesson learned: Even when your big projects don’t turn out, or garner you the attention you expected, it can still give you the notoriety that you can cash in for other projects.

Taylor Swift ($80 million)

In late 2014, Swift released her 1989 album, which consequently lead to a world tour that lasted the whole year. Breaking up with her country music roots almost completely, she’s made the leap into the pop music world with both feet. What many will remember from her 2015 tour year wasn’t necessarily Swift, herself, on the stage (though reviews for the tour have been positive), it was her secret “special guests” each night that ranged from the obscure to rock royalty. She shared a song or two with artists including Mick Jagger, Mary J. Blige, Alanis Morissette, Justin Timberlake, and Wiz Khalifa.

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Lesson learned: Don’t discount the value of working with a dream team. Swift may have her #squad, but on stage, it’s talented musicians that keep her in the headlines.

Beyoncé ($54.5 million)

Beyoncé hasn’t put out an album since her eponymous release in 2013. Another major artist who’s diversifying their portfolio something fierce, she partnered with London-based fashion retailer Topshop. While the line was due to come out this past fall, the new release date has been set for April 2016. Beyoncé also kept her name in the news by adding some songs (from her last album) to the highly anticipated movie 50 Shades of Grey, which came out in 2015. At only six weeks on the chart, the soundtrack had sold more than a half-million copies, making it (at the time) the fourth-largest selling album of 2015.

Lesson learned: Even if you’re recycling old content, do it with the right audience and you’ll keep creating interesting outlets for yourself.