The business of being Rihanna

In August 2005, a 17-year-old Rihanna released her debut studio album, “Music of the Sun.” It included her first-ever single, “Pon de Replay,” which happened to be one of three tracks that she sent to labels as part of a demo. “Music of the Sun” went on to become platinum certified by the RIAA.

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It wasn’t long before this talented Barbados-born beauty released her sophomore album. 2006’s “A Girl like Me,” which included the singles “SOS,” “Unfaithful,” “We Ride” and “Break It Off,” went double platinum. That same year, Rihanna — pictured here accepting the album’s platinum certification in Canada — embarked on her debut concert trek, the “Rihanna: Live in Concert” tour, in support of albums “Music of the Sun” and “A Girl like Me.” The tour consisted of 50 shows throughout North America.

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In May 2007, Rihanna released her third studio album, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” which spawned five singles: “Umbrella,” “Shut Up and Drive,” “Hate That I Love You,” “Don’t Stop the Music” and “Rehab.” The album not only marked a notable shift toward pop and R&B but her image also drastically changed — Rihanna shed her bubbly, girl-next-door image in favor of an edgier and sexier persona. “Good Girl Gone Bad” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold upwards of 2.8 million copies in the United States and more than 9 million copies worldwide.

In 2008, Rihanna was able to add Grammy Award winner to her list of accomplishments! Just shy of her 20th birthday, she won her first Grammy Award with JAY-Z for best rap/sung collaboration for “Umbrella.” The hit track, which was the debut single off her album “Good Girl Gone Bad,” also earned nominations for record of the year and song of the year.

Rihanna went on to release her third album, “Rated R,” in late 2009. The project, which included singles like “Russian Roulette,” “Hard” and “Rude Boy,” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold 181,000 copies in its opening week. Its release came nine months after then-boyfriend Chris Brown, whom she dated from 2007 to 2009 and briefly again in 2013, physically assaulted her. The album was in many ways a response to their highly publicized breakup. “As traumatic and terrifying as it was,” Rihanna told the Los Angeles Times, “and sometimes I wish it never happened, my whole life changed in the most amazing way after I went through that. If I didn’t go through that, I swear, you would’ve been interviewing a completely different person.”

From 2010 to 2011, Rihanna embarked on the “Last Girl on Earth” tour in support of 2009’s “Rated R.” With three legs (Europe, North America and Australia), she performed a total of 67 shows and earned around $40 million worldwide in revenue.

2010 was a major year for Rihanna: Her fifth studio album “Loud,” which contained notable singles like “Only Girl (In the World),” “What’s My Name?,” “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That),” was a total success — it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and marked her highest opening week sales at the time, moving 207,000 copies. “Loud” went on to become the eighth bestselling album of 2011. That same year, she embarked on the “Loud” tour, which grossed a cool $90 million, making it the seventh highest grossing tour of the year.

As for 2011? That year, Rihanna released her sixth studio album, “Talk That Talk,” which included her smash single “We Found Love” in collaboration with Calvin Harris. It too was a commercial success: In addition to debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, it was the ninth bestselling album worldwide in 2011.

Rihanna’s music career continued to blossom with each year, and 2012 was no exception. That year, she released her seventh studio album, “Unapologetic,” which went on to win the Grammy Award for best urban contemporary album (its second single, “Stay,” also earned a Grammy nomination for best pop duo/group performance). “Unapologetic” was her first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and delivered her best first-week album sales when it moved 238,000 copies. Globally, it was also the ninth bestselling album of 2012.

And the tours just keep on coming! In early 2013, Rihanna, who was 25 at the time, embarked on the “Diamonds” world tour. In addition to being praised by critics, it was the fifth highest grossing tour of the year with $141.9 million in revenue.

Rihanna’s empire soon expanded beyond music. In 2014, the “Diamonds” hitmaker — seen here at a Fenty x Puma event in 2018 — was named creative director at Puma as part of a multiyear partnership with the brand. A year later, it was announced that she’d become a co-owner of in JAY-Z’s music streaming service, “Tidal,” alongside artists like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Madonna. In 2015, she also signed a $25 million contract with Samsung to promote its line of Galaxy products and signed a deal for the company to sponsor her “Anti” world tour. Then, in 2016, Rihanna announced that she’d be releasing music through Westbury Road Entertainment, her own label distributed through Universal Music Group. She’s also had brand deals with notable names like Armani and was formerly a creative partner with MAC Cosmetics.

Not only did Rihanna release her eighth studio album, “Anti,” in 2016 — which is recognized as the top performing album by a Black female artist of the 2010s. She also embarked on the “Anti” world tour. The concert trek, which concluded in November 2016, was the 22nd highest grossing tour of the year with earnings of $110 million globally.

Rihanna’s first collaboration with Drake — whom she’s dated on a few occasions over the years — came in 2011 when she appeared on his track “Take Care.” In 2016, Rihanna released the debut single “Work” off her album “Anti,” which featured Drake. The song went on to earn two nominations at the 2017 Grammy Awards for record of the year and best pop duo/group performance. They’re seen here performing the track at the 2016 BRIT Awards.

In September 2017, Rihanna launched her makeup brand, Fenty Beauty, which is co-owned by renowned luxury goods company LVMH. Fenty Beauty made its official launch at Sephora in stores and online at The brand reported record sales, bringing in approximately $100 million within the first few weeks of its launch! Fenty Beauty went on to generate $570 million in revenue in the 15 months after its debut.

While she’s since shifted her focus away from music, at least temporarily, Rihanna’s still given fans a few crumbs. Her most recent Grammy Award came in 2018 for best melodic rap performance for her collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on the track “Loyalty.” To date, she’s won nine Grammys and has received a total of 33 nominations!

Rihanna, who’s starred in films like “Battleship,” “Home” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” landed a starring role alongside Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina and Helena Bonham Carter in 2018’s “Ocean’s 8.” The heist film — a spinoff of Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy, impressed at the box office despite receiving mixed reviews, earning $297.7 million against a $70 million budget!

And the Fenty empire continues to grow! In May 2019, Rihanna made history as the first woman of color to launch a luxury brand with LVMH as she unveiled her Fenty Fashion House. However, in 2021 LVMH put the luxury line, which is headquartered in Paris, on hold “pending better conditions” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She’s charitable too! In March 2020, toward the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Rihanna’s non-profit organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, announced it was making a $5 million donation to several organizations including Direct Relief, Feeding America, Partners in Health and The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. She didn’t stop there — through their charities, Rihanna and collaborator JAY-Z gave $2 million in grants to provide aid for undocumented workers, children of frontline workers and first responders and incarcerated, homeless and elderly populations in Los Angeles and New York City. In April 2020, Rihanna, Jay and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced that they were donating a combined $6.2 million in grants to several organizations helping to protect vulnerable populations particularly in Puerto Rico, New York and New Orleans. RiRi’s foundation also donated $2.1 million to help support of domestic abuse victims in Los Angeles as the global health crisis raged on.

In the summer of 2020, Rihanna debuted Fenty Skin, her inclusive vegan, cruelty-free and eco-conscious skincare line.

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which launched in 2018, has become recognized for its inclusive range of sizes and star-studded fashion shows. The brand was projected to make $150 million in 2019 and its revenue also reportedly increased 200% in 2020. “Lingerie is about celebrating your body and that’s what Savage is all about,” Rihanna said in a statement. “Savage… is a representation of all and a validation that everyone is beautiful no matter what.” In February 2021, following the announcement of her Fenty fashion house’s indefinite closure, it was revealed that Savage x Fenty had not only secured an additional $115 million in a second round of investment funding, but had been valued at $1 billion. Talk about making moves!

Thanks to her incredible album and tour sales and a slew of lucrative business endeavors including her Fenty brand, it’s no surprise that Rihanna is the world’s highest paid female musician, with Forbes estimating her net worth at around $600 million in recent years. In honor of the business mogul’s 33rd birthday on Feb. 20, 2021 — and in celebration of news released the same month revealing that her Savage x Fenty lingerie brand had been valued at $1 billion — is taking a closer look at how RiRi has amassed her fortune. Keep reading for more about the business of being Rihanna…

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