The 25-year-old US singer was ranked number 64 on the list for 2015, and is also the youngest. Forbes, which has put together the list since 2004, defended the choice explaining Swift has “not only broken record sales and captivated the world with her fantastically honest lyrics, but she has proven herself as an impressive businesswoman.”
It is billed as the magazine’s “definitive annual audit of the foremost heads of state, iconic entrepreneurs and CEOs, celebrity role models, billionaire activists, and pioneer philanthropists, all ranked by money, media momentum, spheres of influence and impact.”
Swift, a seven-time Grammy winner, has sold more than 40 million albums and 100 million single downloads worldwide – making her one of the best-selling artist of all time and now the youngest entry on the list by six years.
Swift is one of the most followed celebrities on Twitter with 58 million followers. Forbes estimates her earnings in 2014 to be $81 million.
“The bona fide, cross-genre global megastar has not only broken record sales and captivated the world with her fantastically honest music, but she has proven herself as an impressive businesswoman,” Forbes wrote about Swift. “Late last year, the pop-country singer pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify, making at a strike for the notion that streaming services don’t adequately compensate artists.”
Swift’s stand against the ubiquitous streaming service was foreshadowed by an opinion piece about the music industry she wrote for the Wall Street Journal last year pointing out the importance of “fan power.”
For the fifth year in a row, German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped the list, but for the first time Hillary Clinton is snapping at her heels.
Behind them came Melinda Gates, who co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with her billionaire philanthropist husband, US federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde was in sixth place and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came in seventh.
The top 10 was rounded out by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (8), Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube (9) and US First Lady Michelle Obama.
The annual list of the world’s 100 most powerful women includes leaders in eight categories – technology, politics, business, finance, media, entertainment, philanthropy and billionaires.
Clinton, the former first lady and one-time US secretary of state, who in April announced her second run for the White House, was listed at number six last year.
“In 2015 Clinton is number two, just a breath and a ballot away from the Most Powerful Woman crown,” Forbes said.
The magazine has put the German chancellor on the list 10 times in the past 12 years.
Swift is one of 19 newcomers to the list, joined by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, number 36; US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, number 34; and incoming Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner at number 80.
Fifty-nine per cent of those on the list are American, including several immigrants.
There are 18 from the Asia-Pacific region, 12 from Europe, four each from Latin America and the Middle East and three Africans.
The magazine said the list features eight heads of state and one monarch, who govern nations with a combined GDP of $11.6 trillion and 15 billionaires with a total net worth of more than $94.8 billion.
The top ranking billionaire this year is Oprah Winfrey at number 12, with a personal net worth of $3.8 billion.
Winfrey is one of 15 billionaires on the list this year, with a cumulative net worth of nearly $75 million.
The total social media footprint of all 100 Power WOmen is nearly 475 million followers.
The top 15 of the Forbes World’s Most Powerful Women
- Angela Merkel, chancellor, Germany
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, presidential candidate; former secretary of state
- Melinda Gates, co-chairman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US
- Janet Yellen, US Federal Reserve Bank Chair, U.S.
- Mary Barra, General Motors chief executive, US
- Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund managing director, US
- Dilma Rousseff, Brazil president
- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operation officer, US
- Susan Wojcicki, YouTube chief executive, US
- Michelle Obama, US first lady
- Park Geun-hye, South Korea president
- Oprah Winfrey, media mogul, US
- Virginia Rometty, IBM chief executive, US
- Meg Whitman, HP chief executive, US
- Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chief executive, US