Lady Gaga ranked first on Forbes ' annual list of the best-paid celebrities under 30. - Andrew H. Walker/Getty …
These guys haven't gotten rich through decades of careful, prudent investing, like some of the top members of our Forbes 400. But they have sweated and spent a lot of sleepless nights honing and promoting their talents. That hard work helped these 20 young stars bring in a total of $690 million between May 2010 and May 2011.
The youngest star on our list is Justin Bieber. In his meteoric rise to fame, the 17-year-old crooner skipped the dues-paying drudgery of touring clubs and small venues that many artists go through to work their way up. Instead, at a time when most teens are worrying about who to invite to prom, he's been touring the world and starring in a hit concert documentary. Bieber ranks second on our list with $53 million in earnings over the past 12 months. That money, plus his incredible fame, helped him debut in third place on our annual Celebrity 100 list, which measures wealth and fame.
Bieber is one of seven musicians who make our list. A world tour of arenas can be incredibly lucrative and almost all of our music stars had big tours this year. Lady Gaga, who ranks first on our list, grossed $170 million from 137 shows in 22 countries. Gaga is, of course, no slouch when it comes to music sales. Between May 2010 and May 2011 (before her latest album, Born This Way, dropped) she sold an estimated 15 million albums worldwide. We estimate that over that time Gaga earned $90 million. She ranked first on our Celebrity 100 list this year because of her earnings power and her ability to always attract attention, whether she's wearing a meat dress or arriving on stage in an egg.
Rihanna makes our list of the top earners under 30 in 10th place, although she just failed to make the cut for the Celebrity 100. The singer earned an estimated $29 million between May 2010 and May 2011 thanks to a tour, great album sales, and endorsements with brands like Fuze Drinks and Venus Razors. She's also becoming increasingly apt at attracting attention. Rihanna is the latest musician to kiss Brittney Spears at an awards show. The two locked lips at the recent Billboard Awards.
Nine of the top-earning young celebrities are athletes. In third place is LeBron James, who brought in $48 million over the 12-month period. James' reputation may have taken a hit when he moved from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat, but it didn't hurt his earning power. His jersey was the NBA's top seller and he has the No. 1 basketball shoe on the market.
Tennis player Roger Federer ranks fourth with $47 million in earnings. He may no longer be No. 1 on the court, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic passing him in the ATP rankings, but he still commands the most impressive endorsement portfolio in all of sports, with 10 major deals with the likes of Nike, Rolex, and Wilson.
Representing Hollywood are "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who tie for 15th place with $20 million each. Their earning power should stay strong at least for the next year as the "Twilight" franchise winds down with two "Breaking Dawn" movies.