Taylor Swift, 25
The country crooner turned pop mega-star was the single highest-earning musician last year, but that’s not what earned her the respect and attention of the business world. It was her surprising and effective public stance against free music. First she stood up to Spotify, pulling her entire catalog and penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “music should not be free.” This year, she moved on to a bigger force: Apple. Just as the company was offering a trial period for its much-touted new Apple Music platform, Swift wrote a blog post pressuring it to rethink its artist pay model. (Apple had refused to pay artists during the service’s first three months.) It worked. Apple relented, making Swift the poster child for all artists hoping to reclaim their rights—and their revenue—in a digital world. Now that’s major influence she can’t shake off.