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Big - But Not Here

These foreign acts tear up the charts--on their home turf. But making it over there doesn't mean you can make it anywhere.

Ayumi Hamasaki
Albums sold: 16 million

"Ayu" to her fans, this tiny phenom reigns supreme in the world's second-largest music market. Her record sales reportedly totaled $190 million in 2001. A masterful marketer, she is renowned for tightly controlling her image and a look that goes from short wigs to George Clintonesque hair extensions. She also is well known to tax collectors: In May Japan's National Tax Agency disclosed the country's top 100 taxpayers for 2002; Hamasaki ranked number 37, though her estimated income was all of $9 million.

Written by Alexandra Kirkman (Forbes Magazine) (June 7th 2003)

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