When you think of the most lucrative careers, music is definitely not the first one that comes to mind. Of course like any profession, there are many levels to be considered. Some musicians are able to live frugally and still write music.
They may not have a lot of money but at least they are happy. On the other end of the spectrum there are musicians who continue to make millions and millions of dollars. Join us as we take you through this list of songwriters, who are not only insanely famous, but also make the most money.
Sia — $25 million
Sia’s career got off to a rocky start as a solo artist, but in 2005 she opted instead to collaborate with other artists. Before long, her hit single “Titanium,” produced along with David Guetta, was peaking on Top 10 lists within the U.S., Australia, and diverse European regions. However, Sia wasn’t happy with the success of the single, since she was hoping to retire and leave the spotlight.
Additionally, from 2011 to 2013, Sia co-wrote songs for several recording artists, including Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Flo Rida, and Rihanna. Her joint work with Flo Rida peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and ‘Wild Ones’ was the tenth most popular song of 2012, globally.
Beck — $25 million
A child of the 70’s, Beck took a liking to hip-hop and folk and started to perform at coffeehouses and clubs around L.A. In the 1980’s, he moved to NYC and became involved in the anti-folk movement. After moving back to L.A. in the 90’s, he debuted his breakthrough single "Loser," which became a global hit. Soon after that, he released his first major album, Mellow Gold.
With a variety of musical styles under his belt, unique and ironic lyrics, drum machines, live instruments and wild effects, Beck has been named among the most creative musicians of the 90’s and 2000’s. Two of Beck's recordings were ranked on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. He is also a four time platinum artist and many of his songs have been used as soundtracks.
John Mayer — $40 million
John Mayer enrolled in Berkeley College of Music in Boston, but dropped out and moved to Atlanta with his pal, Clay Cook. Mayer and Cook formed a band called Lo-Fi Masters. They soon split, but Mayer continued to play at clubs and gain a loyal band of followers. After a performance at South by Southwest, he got signed to Columbia Records, which released his first EP. Two of his following albums -Room for Squares (2001) and Heavier Things (2003), gained multi-platinum status. In 2003, John won the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards, for the single "Your Body Is a Wonderland".
Mayer doesn’t stop there. He dabbles in television hosting, comedy, and writing; he has written for magazines such as Esquire. He supports various causes and has performed at many benefits.
Ariana Grande — $50 million
Grande's impressive music career started in 2011, with the soundtrack from her hit Disney show, Victorious. Grande has gone on to earn three number-one albums on the US Billboard 200. Her album, Dangerous Woman, hit #2 in 2016. She has also gotten six Top 5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. She became the first artist in history to have top ten singles from all 4 of her albums. She also had the most Top 10 singles out of any artist in the same year!
People have compared her enormous range to Mariah Carey. Her accomplishments include three American Music Awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and six Grammy Award nominations!
Paul Simon — $55 million
Spanning over seven decades of fame and success, we have the legendary Paul Simon. It all began in 1956 with Art Garfunkel as Simon & Garfunkel (which was originally Tom & Jerry). Simon was on point for writing almost all of their songs, including the ones that reached number one on the charts: "The Sound of Silence", "Mrs. Robinson", and "Bridge over Troubled Water".
Among many accolades, and an amazing 16 Grammys, Paul Simon was the first person to get the Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. In 1986, he was given an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees there.
Michael Bublé — $60 million
Buble gained worldwide respect and tons of fans in 2005 with his album It's Time, followed by his 2007 album Call Me Irresponsible. That album reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and multiple European and Canadian charts. His 2009 album, Crazy Love, debuted at number one after three days of sales, and it remained there for weeks. His holiday album, Christmas, became his third consecutive number one album.
Michael Bublé has won more awards than we can count, including Juno Awards and an impressive four Grammys. He has also sold over 75 million records world-wide..
Pete Townshend — $115 million
The main songwriter for the Who, Pete Townshend, has written over 100 songs for The Who's 11 albums, including the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. He also penned popular rock radio staples like Who's Next, and so many more, that appeared as stand alone singles, compilations and bonus tracks.
Also, Pete has written more than 100 songs for his own solo albums, as well as commercial jingles and T.V. theme songs. Although he was known mainly as a guitarist, he also plays many other instruments, such as keyboards, banjo, accordion, ukulele, mandolin, violin, and drums. He plays these on his own albums, Who albums, and also as a guest contributor to other artists' recordings. He has no formal training and is said to be self-taught on all of the instruments he plays!
Janet Jackson — $175 million
Janet Jackson is the youngest child in the Jackson family. She got her career started with the television series The Jacksons, in 1976. She went on to appear in other shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including T.V. hits such as Good Times and Fame. In 1982, she signed a record contract with A&M Records, and the rest was history. She soon became a world-renowned pop icon.
Her widely known collaborations with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, which incorporated rhythm and blues, disco, rap and funk, helped Janet’s crossover success in popular music. She has sold over 100 million records, which makes Jackson one of the world's best-selling music artists.
Sting — $243 million
With a multitude of awards under his belt and an impressive 16 Grammys, Sting has had quite the amazing career.
He was the main songwriter and lead singer for the rock band the Police, from 1977 to 1984. He also launched a solo career in 1985. With his band the Police, Sting became one of the world's best-selling music artists. Both on his own and with the Police, he has sold over 100 million records. In 2006, he was ranked number 62 out of the 100 best living songwriters. He was also named number 63 on VH1's 100 greatest artists of rock. Q magazine has also named him in their list of 100 greatest musical stars of the 20th century.
Tim Rice — $250 million
Academy Award winner, Golden Globe Award winner, Emmy Award winner, Tony Award winner, and Grammy Award-winning lyricist, Tim Rice is in a league of his own. Tim may be best known for his work with Andrew Lloyd Webber- together they wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. He also gained much success for his collaborations with Alan Menken on Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.
Tim Rice is said to be one of the most influential lyricists in pop culture. In 1994, Rice was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to music. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and also is in the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He is one of just fifteen people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award.
Lady Gaga — $275 million
Known by her stage name, Lady Gaga, this artist is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She is widely recognized for her wild fashion and provocative work. Getting her start performing in school plays and at open mics around NYC, Lady Gaga attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, before dropping out to pursue her music career full time. She got signed to Def Jam Recordings but they ultimately canceled the contract. After that, Gaga began writing songs for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. That is where Akon got her a deal with Interscope Records and his own label, KonLive Distribution. She became a household name the following year, with her album, The Fame.
She has sold over 27 million albums and 146 million singles, which makes lady Gaga one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Nana Mouskouri — $280 million
While she may not be a household name, Nana Mouskouri has one of the most impressive careers in the industry. During the entirety of her career, she has released 200 albums and singles in more than twelve different languages. Some of the languages include Greek, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, and many more.
She became famous throughout Europe for her song "The White Rose of Athens", which she recorded in German as "Weiße Rosen aus Athen" as a rendition of her Greek song "Σαν σφυρίξεις τρείς φορές" (San sfyríxeis tris forés, "When you whistle three times"). This soon became her first album to sell more than a million copies.
Julio Iglesias — $300 million
Julio Iglesias is known for having recorded songs in the most languages in the world! In 2013 he was recognized for being the Latin artist with the most records sold in history. Iglesias is said to be the most commercially successful European singer in the world. He also holds a record for having some of the most top ten record sales in music history - after all, he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide in 14 languages.
During his career, he has played 5000 concerts, and performed for over 60 million people spanning five continents. In his home country of Spain, he has sold the most records in history, with 23 million sales. During his wild career, he has won awards in the music industry, such as a Grammy, a Latin Grammy, World Music Award, and more.
Justin Bieber — $305 million
Justin was discovered in 2008 by a talent manager through his YouTube channel, where he covered songs. Shortly after, he signed to RBMG. It was then that Bieber released his debut EP, My World. The album was certified platinum in the US. Justin became the first artist to have seven songs from a debut record rank on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2010, Bieber released his first full-length album, My World 2.0. The album debuted at number one and was certified triple platinum in the US.
Bieber was a part of many successful collaborations, including "Cold Water", "Let Me Love You", "Despacito (Remix)", and "I'm the One". His album and singles sales total an incredible 44.7 million. He has sold 140 million records, which makes him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He also became the second person to gain 100 million followers on Twitter, only after Katy Perry.
Cher — $305 million
Also known as the goddess of pop, Cher has made her way in a male-dominated industry. She is known for her unique distinctive voice and for having worked in many different areas of entertainment throughout her 60-year career.
Cher has won an impressive amount of awards during the last six decades. She has a Grammy Award and an Emmy Award - she also has an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Cannes Film Festival Award, among several others. She has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Cher has become one of the best-selling music artists in history. Additionally, she’s the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart for six consecutive decades!
Taylor Swift — $320 million
Barely a teenager at the time, Taylor moved to Nashville to pursue her music career. Specifically, country music. It wasn't long before she got signed to the label Big Machine Records and became the youngest artist ever signed by Sony/ATV. Her debut album got to number five on the Billboard 200 and spent the most weeks on the chart over any other song in the 2000s.
Her second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009, mostly due to the success of her pop crossover singles. The album won four Grammy Awards, making Swift the youngest Album of the Year winner.
Mick Jagger — $332 million
Mick Jagger is an English vocalist musician, writer and performer who has picked up distinction and reputation as the lead singer and one of the original individuals of the Rolling Stones. Jagger's profession has spread over more than five decades, and he has been portrayed as "a standout among the most famous and persuasive front men in the historical backdrop of rock and roll".
His particular voice and exhibitions, alongside Keith Richards' guitar style, have been the trademark of the Rolling Stones all through the band's vocation. Jagger picked up press reputation for his conceded medication use and sentimental inclusions, and was regularly depicted as a counter-cultural figure.
Bruce Springsteen — $345 million
Bruce Springsteen is an American vocalist, lyricist and pioneer of the E. Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss," he is recognized for his beautiful verses, his Jersey Shore roots, his unmistakable voice, and extensive, fiery stage presence.
Springsteen has recorded both shake collections and progressively dismal, people arranged works. His best studio collections, Born to Run (1975) and Born in the U.S.A. (1984) discover joys in the battles of everyday American life. He has sold 135 million records worldwide and 64 million records in the United States, making him one of the world's top selling artists. He has earned various honors for his work, including 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, a Tony Award (for Springsteen on Broadway) and is in both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In 2009, Springsteen was a Kennedy Center Honors beneficiary, in 2013, he was named MusiCares individual of the year, and in 2016, he was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Beyoncé — $355 million
Beyoncé Knowles did not gain her success overnight. She grew up in Texas where she lived with her parents. She was a student at a Performing Arts School, where she worked on her voice and other talents. It was there that she formed the beginnings of her girl group.
She rose to fame in the 1990s as lead singer of the ever popular R&B girl-group Destiny's Child. They were managed by her father, Mathew Knowles, and despite the fact that he did not have a career in music, the girls became one of the best-selling groups in history. Throughout her expansive career, Beyoncé has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the world's best-selling music artists. She currently has 22 Grammy Awards and holds the record for the most nominations received by a woman in the history of the award.
Celine Dion — $400 million
In the 1980's, Celine Dion was a teen star releasing multiple french-language albums. She knew there had to be more - it was then that she learned to speak English. After learning English, she was signed by Epic Records in the United States. She released her debut album in English, Unison, which was able to establish her as a pop artist in the US and other English-speaking countries.
Her music has been influenced by rock, R&B and everything in between. Her recordings, though mainly in French and English - also include Spanish, Italian, German, and a multitude of other languages. Her releases often receive mixed reviews - however, she is still known as one of pop music's most influential voices. She has also won five Grammy Awards.
Jon Bon Jovi — $410 million
Jon Bon Jovi gained his fame in 1983 as the face of the band Bon Jovi. He has also released two solo albums, along with 12 Studio albums with Bon Jovi. The albums have sold over a hundred and thirty million copies. This makes them one of the world's best-selling artists.
As if his musical fame wasn't enough, he started an acting career in the 1990s. He got several starring movie roles, including: Moonlight and Valentino and U-571. He has also made several TV appearances in various TV shows, including: Sex and the City and Ally McBeal. Despite his acting success, he still shines as a musician - and in 2009, Bon Jovi was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Elton John — $500 million
Selling more than 300 million records, Elton John is one of the best-selling music artists in the world. He has more than fifty Top 40 hits. His single "Candle in the Wind 1997", in dedication to Diana, Princess of Wales, has sold over 33 million copies around the world and is the best-selling single in history.. He has also composed music, produced records, and occasionally acted in some films.
He learned to play piano early on, and formed Bluesology. In 1967, John met his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, after they had both answered an ad looking for writers. For years they wrote songs for other artists. His debut album, Empty Sky, was released in 1969, and after that, his first hit single "Your Song" quickly reached the top ten. After decades of success, John has also gone on to have success in musical films and theatre, composing the music for The Lion King, Aida and Billy Elliot the Musical.
Dolly Parton — $500 million
Dolly Parton got her initial success by writing songs for other people. In 1967 she made her debut album, Hello, I'm Dolly. She gained a pretty steady stream of success throughout the 1960s. She continued on as a solo artist and released a couple of duet albums as well. However, her sales peaked in the 70s and continued well into the 80s. She released more albums in the 90s, but they did not do as well.
This didn't stop her, though, and she made a comeback in 2000’s and released multiple albums on Independent labels, including albums on her own label, Dolly Records. Over the span of her career, she has a record 41 top-10 country albums, and she has 110 charted singles over the past 40 years.
Mariah Carey — $510 million
The Guinness Book of World Records named Mariah Carey the "Songbird Supreme". This is due in part to her unbelievable five-octave vocal range, power, style, and use of whistle tones. She got her start to fame in 1990, when she was signed to Columbia Records. She then released her debut album, which topped the US Billboard 200 for 11 weeks. Carey became the only artist to have their first five singles reach number one on the chart.
Carey became Sony’s highest-selling act, with the follow-up albums Music Box (1993), Merry Christmas (1994), and Daydream (1995). Billboard called her the most successful artist of the 1990s - at the same time the World Music Awards honored her as the world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s.
Jimmy Buffett — $560 million
Jimmy Buffett is best known for his "island escapism" lifestyle vibe in his music. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Jimmy Buffett has recorded many hit songs, including "Margaritaville" (ranked 234th on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of "Songs of the Century") and "Come Monday". He also has a devoted base of fans, known as "Parrotheads".
. Aside from his successful career in music, Buffett is also a best-selling writer and is involved in two restaurant chains, named after two of his best-known songs; he owns the chain of restaurants, Margaritaville Cafe, and he also co-developed the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chain.
Madonna — $590 million
Commonly named the "Queen of Pop", Madonna is known for pushing the boundaries of songwriting in mainstream popular music since the 1980s. She is also famous for her imagery in music videos and spectacles on stage. She has reinvented both her music and image multiple times, all while maintaining good standing within the recording industry. Besides creating a little bit of drama and some controversy, her music has been praised by fans and critics. Other artists often say Madonna has been a great musical influence. .
Having sold over 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. Rolling Stone included her in the lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, as well as the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.
Bono — $700 million
Best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of rock band U2, is the famous Bono. During U2's first couple of years, Bono's lyrics gave to the group's rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band grew, his lyrics became more inspired by personal experiences. As a member of U2, he has received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Outside of U2, he has also recorded with numerous artists. He’s collaborated with U2 bandmate the Edge on many projects, including: songs for Roy Orbison and Tina Turner; the soundtracks to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and a London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. Entertainment aside, he is also the Managing Director and a Managing Partner of the firm Elevation Partners, which as a private equity, has invested in many companies.
Dr. Dre — $770 million
Dr. Dre has created albums for and started the careers of numerous rappers, including 2Pac, The D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, Knoc-turn'al, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. He is credited as a key figure in the making and advancement of West Coast G-funk, a rap style described as synthesizer-based with moderate, substantial beats. Starting at 2018, he is the third wealthiest figure in hip hop, with total assets of $770 million.
Dre started his life as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru. He received acclaim with the persuasive gangsta rap band N.W.A, with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, which made rap lyrics more mainstream - and used rap to detail the viciousness of ‘thug’ life. His 1992 solo album, The Chronic, under Death Row Records, made him the best selling artist of 1993, and earned him a Grammy Award.
John Lennon — $800 million
John Lennon is an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and Paul McCartney, a fellow band member, entered into a highly vaunted partnership in songwriting. They would rise to meteoric fame in the 1960s, along with their partners George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The group sadly disbanded in 1970, and Lennon formed the Plastic Ono Band with Yoko Ono, his second wife.
Lennon’s solo albums hit 14 million units sold by 2012, and he boasted a full 25 number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 list, due to his unparalleled talent as a songwriter, co-writer, and performer.
Sean Combs — $825 million
No other artist has gone through as many name changes as Sean Combs. Combs' debut album, No Way Out (1997) has gone seven times platinum. No Way Out was followed by even more successful albums, such as Forever(1999), The Saga Continues... (2001) and Press Play (2006). In 2009, he formed the group Diddy – Dirty Money and released the well-reviewed and extremely successful album Last Train to Paris (2010).
Sean Combs has won a total of three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards. He is also the producer of the MTV hit, Making the Band. In 2018, Forbes estimated that his net worth was at least $825 million. That makes him the second-richest hip hop recording artist.
Michael Jackson — $825 million
Jackson was an influential singer, songwriter and dancer. Commonly named the "King of Pop", he is remembered as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century.. He is regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. His fame in music, dance, and fashion, along with his spotlighted personal life, made him a figure in popular culture for over four decades.
He is the third best-selling music artist of all time - with sales of over 350 million records worldwide. He has won well over 100 awards, which makes him the most awarded recording artist in the history of popular music. He is also one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, and was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame.
Herb Alpert — $870 million
Herb Alpert is a record industry executive, he is the "A" of A&M Records, a recording label he and business partner Jerry Moss founded, and eventually sold to PolyGram. Alpert has also created expressionist paintings and sculptures over two decades, which are displayed publicly. Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, are philanthropists through the operation of the Herb Alpert Foundation.
His musical career include five number one albums and 28 albums total on the Billboard Album chart. He also has nine Grammy Awards, fourteen platinum albums, and fifteen gold albums. He has has sold over 72 million records worldwide. Alpert is also the one and only artist to get to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as a vocalist ("This Guy's in Love with You", 1968), and an instrumentalist ("Rise", 1979).
Jay-Z — $900 million
Jay-Z began his musical career in the mid 1990s, after which he released his debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996, to worldwide critical and commercial success. He released this album just a year after founding the record label Roc-A-Fella Records. His following albums have also received great recognition.
Jay-Z is considered one of the world's best-selling artists. He is tied with Kanye West for the most Grammys received by a rapper - 21. He holds the record for the most number-one albums by an artist on the Billboard 200, and has recorded four number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. They also ranked Jay Z as the biggest artist of the 2000s, while Rolling Stone named him one of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Jay Z made history as the first rapper to be honored at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2017, and to receive the "Salute to Industry Icons Award" at the 60th Grammy Awards.
Paul McCartney — $1.2 billion
Paul McCartney gained worldwide fame as the bass guitarist and singer of The Beatles, often considered the most popular and influential band in the history of popular music. His partnership with John Lennon is the most successful in history. After the band broke up in 1970, Paul pursued a solo career and formed the band Wings.
McCartney is often considered the most successful composer and performer of all time. Over 2,000 artists have covered his song "Yesterday", making it the most covered song in music history. He has also been named a two-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988, and as a solo artist in 1999), and an 18-time Grammy Award winner. McCartney has written, or co-written, 32 songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2009, he had 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. On another note, McCartney was knighted for services to music in the year 1997.
Andrew Lloyd Webber — $1.2 billion
Ranked the "fifth most powerful person in British culture" by The Daily Telegraph in 2008, lyricist Don Black has stated that "Andrew more or less single-handedly reinvented the musical." Several of Lloyd Webber’s musicals have run for more than a decade, both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed over a dozen musicals, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass, among others.
He is one of the few artists who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he is an inductee into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He is one of fifteen people to have won an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony. The company he started, named the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. He is involved in numerous charitable activities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Nordoff Robbins, Prostate Cancer UK and War Child. He also set up the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which supports the arts, culture and heritage in the UK, in 1992.
Bob Dylan — $180 Million
Dylan is famous for his witty lyrics and unrefined voice, and is widely considered one of the most prolific singers and songwriters of the last century. He's penned and performed classic songs like "Blowing in the Wind,", "Like a Rolling Stone," and "The Times They are A Changing," which have become anthems for civil rights and anti-war movements. While Dylan's song catalog seems to be never ending, he receives most of his fortune from royalty payments from contemporary artists who perform his songs.
Usually equipped with only his guitar, harmonica, and iconic voice, Dylan has released 37 albums, 13 of which hit number one on the Billboard charts. Dylan has been honored with 11 Grammy Awards, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. And of course he's been inducted is various musical Hall of Fames. It's no wonder Bob Dylan was named one of the Most Important People of the Century by “Time” magazine. At 77, Dyla and shows no signs of slowing down, and continues to tour and release albums that defy expectations.
Nicki Minaj — $80 Million
Onika Tanya Maraj, known professionally as Nicki Minaj, the rapper, singer and songwriter, was born in Trinidad and raised in Queens, New York City. Although her rough upbringing, and difficulties trying to infiltrate a mostly male dominated genre, Minaj managed to beat all odds becoming one of the most influential female rap artists of all time. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including six American Music Awards, 11 BET Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, a Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award, and 10 Grammy Award nominations. In 2016, Minaj was listed on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. The Hip Hop/Pop superstar has sold over 20 million singles as a lead artist, 60 million singles as a featured artist, and 5 million albums worldwide, ranking her among of the best-selling music artists in the world.
With all of her accomplishments, it's not uprising that sh'es also one of the highest paid in her genre. Minaj is listed as No. 15 on Forbes Magazine’s Hip-Hop Cash Kings, currently, the only woman on the list. Besides music, Minaj first made her debut in a motion picture in 2012 in the animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift, and in 2013, she was a judge on the twelfth season of American Idol. She has played supporting roles in the films The Other Woman (2014) and Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016). She has a stake in streaming service Tidal and is a philanthropist who has awarded dozens of college tuition scholarships to her fans.
Britney Spears — $215 Million
Born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana, Britney Spears started her career in entertainment when she was 8(!) years old, when she appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club. Spears was only 17 when she hit #1 on the U.S. pop music charts with her debut album, Baby One More Time (1999) and Oops!… I Did It Again (2000). The young southern belle would soon become the driving force behind the return of teen pop, an would later be known as a world renown singer, songwriter and dancer.
Besides co-writing most of her own songs, in 2011 she wrote the song "Whiplash" for Selena Gomez & the Scene, from their third studio album When the Sun Goes Down. As far as her wealth Spears has 33 million certified albums which sold over 100 million copies worldwide, and according to the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) data, she ranks as the 8th top-selling female artist in the United States. She also has lucrative high-profile endorsement deals including Elizabeth Arden and Candies.
Brian May — $175 million
This English singer, songwriter, guitarist, and astrophysicist is best known as one of the members of the legendary rock band, Queen. He formed the band Smile in 1968 which lasted for two years. In 1970, he and a former Smile drummer, Roger Taylor joined Freddie Mercury and John Deacon to form Queen. He wrote and co wrote the majority of Queen's hit singles such as "We Will Rock You", "Under Pressure", and "The Show Must Go On".
May has enjoyed international acclaim, he was ranked at No. 26 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", in 2001, he, as the other members of Queen, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2005 May was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II herself for "services to the music industry and for charity work", and in 2018 the band received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in the category of "the most distinctive recordings in music history". May has an estimated net worth of $175 million, making him the wealthiest band member. Interesting to know, besides his musical career, May also has a PhD in astrophysics.
Drake — $140 Million
This Canadian born recording artist, lyricist and actor, Aubrey "Drake" Graham first hit our TV screens as Jimmy Brooks from the teen series Degrassi: The Next Generation. It wasn't until 2006 that he revealed us his rap and singing skills. His first mixtapes were received well and although he was unsigned, he landed features on countless remixes and mixtapes. He eventually caught the attention of some of the biggest names in the genre at that time,which included artist like Lil' Wayne, Kanye West and Jay-Z.
By the summer of 2009, his single "Best I Ever Had," had climbed to number 2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Record labels were eager to sign him, and Drake eventually signed with Universal Motown in late summer for a reported $2 million, making it one of the most lucrative record deals at the time, according to Page Six. To date, his estimated new worth today is $140 million, making him the fourth richest rapper in the world, according to Forbes. Besides cashing out on his rap lyrics, Drake owns his own line called October’s Very Own that has reportedly grossed $4.3 million, according Owler. Drake had also signed with Nike’s Jordan Brand, and released the $225 Air Jordan 8 Retro OVO sneaker. Other streams of revenue include the Virginia Black Whiskey company, and the Toronto Raptors NBA team, which make sense because Darke's a huge basketball fan.
George Strait — $326 Million
George Strait is also known as the "King of Country" and is widely considered one of the most influential recording artists of all time, and is credited for returning country music back to its roots, driving away from the pop country era of the 1980s. His musical style includes a combination of country, bluegrass, western swing, and honky tonk.
Strait has sold over 100 million records worldwide making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His certifications include 33 platinum, 13 multi-platinum, and 38 gold albums. His best-selling album is Pure Country (1992), which sold 6 million (6 times platinum). Strait was named as the Country Music Association (CMA) entertainer of the year in 1989 and 1990. He's also has been nominated for more CMA and Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards and has received more wins than any other artist. In 2009 he broke Conway Twitty’s record for the most number one hits. With an estimated net worth of $326 million, not only is he one of the best selling artists, but also one of the richest singers in the world.
Calvin Harris — $220 million
Adam Richard Wiles, most famously known as Calvin Harris was born in Scotland, and has become a world renown producer, DJ, singer and songwriter. He experienced success early in his career when he debuted with his album “I Created Disco” which quickly went Gold certified by the British Phonographic Industry. His second album, “Ready for the Weekend”, was also a huge success. He has won “The Music Producers Guild Award”, and won a NME award, MTV Video Music Award, and a Grammy for the Best Short Form Music Video “We Found Love”.
As a child Harris was a huge football fan, and he even aspired to be a football player. But luckily for us, he started experimenting with electronic music in his early teens. Harris started recording music in his small bedroom, and by 21, he got his first taste of success. He sure knows how to write a hit, as he's penned songs for big names like Rihanna, Kylie Minogue, Sam Smith and Dizzee Rascal. With an estimated networth of $22 million he's among the richest musician under 30 in the UK and Ireland.
Gloria Estefan — $500 Million
With a net worth standing at $500 million to date, Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful musicians of all times. Born in Cuba, Estefan and her family immigrated to American during the Cuban Revolution, where she would eventually become a world famous songwriter, singer, actress and entrepreneur. The majority of her fortune comes from selling over 100 Million records across the world. Music critics widely regard her as the most successful crossover Latin music performer in the history of the industry.
In 1974 she became a naturalized United States citizen, and a few years later she started her music career as the lead singer in a band called the Miami Latin Boys. As a solo artist Estefan has won as many as 7 Grammys Awards, a Hispanic Heritage Award, MTV Video Music Award, Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fun fact: because of Estefan's prolific language she was once approached by the CIA to be recruited, but declined, after she decided to focus on her music instead.
Trent Reznor — $70 Million
This American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and film score composer is the founder, lead vocalist, and main songwriter of the popular rock band Nine Inch Nails. Outside of Nine Inch Nails, he has also contributed to numerous renown works of artists, films and even video games. He's worked with Saul Williams and Marilyn Manson, and has been associated with the bands like The Innocent, Option 30, The Urge, and Exotic Birds. He, along with composer Atticus Ross, won a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and an Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Social Network. Reznor also scored the film Bird Box, and contributed music for Popular video games like Quake and the theme song to Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Surprisingly, Reznor's net worth is $70 million, which with all the different industries he's involved in, seem relatively modest. But Reznor has never chased the money, and is truly committed to the art itself. In fact, he's an outspoken critic of the music industry, which is why he's published several albums independently, and he even encourages fans to steal his music.
Justin Timberlake — $230 million
Born and raised in Tennessee, this singer, dancer, songwriter and businessman made his television debut on the TV shows Star Search and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club as a child. Later, in the late 1990s, he rose to prominence as one of the lead vocalists of the boy band NSYNC, which would eventually become one of the best-selling bands of all time. Timberlake began to adopt a more mature image as an artist when he launched his solo career which would turn out to be just as successful. From 2008 through 2012, Timberlake shifted his focused to acting, landing roles in the films Friends with Benefits, The Social Network, Bad Teacher, and In Time. He resumed his music career in 2013. Justin Timberlake has an estimated net worth of $230 million.
Throughout his solo career, Timberlake has sold over 32 million albums and 56 million singles globally, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He's the recipient of numerous awards, including 10 Grammys, 4 Emmy, 3 Brit Awards, and 9 Billboard Music Awards. In 2017 Billboard listed Timberlake among the best performing male soloist in the history of the Mainstream music, and later Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007 and once again in 2013.
Max Martin — $260 million
Karl Martin Sandberg, or more famously known as Max Martin, is a Swedish songwriter, record producer and singer. Too many his face is unfamiliar, as he has made most of his fortune behind the scenes. He rose to fame in the 1990's after being the man behind major hits such as Britney Spears's "...Baby One More Time" (1998), NSYNC's "It's Gonna Be Me" (2000), and The Backstreet Boys's "I Want It That Way" (1999). Martin is a one of the most successful songwriters in the business, haven written or co-written over 20 Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits, most of which he has also produced or co-produced, including Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl", Maroon 5's "One More Night", Taylor Swift's "Blank Space", and The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face".
With 22 number one singles, Martin ranks as the 3rd songwriter with the most number-one singles on the chart, behind only John Lennon (26), and Paul McCartney (32), speaking of great company to be among. Martin has won the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Songwriter of the Year award a record-breaking 11 times, 1999 through 2001, and from 2011 through 2013. Other songs written or co-written by Max Martin include: "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman" by Britney Spears, "Last Friday Night" and "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry, "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "22" by Taylor Swift. What a talent!
Bruno Mars — $150 million
Born in Hawaii, this island boy born as Peter Gene Hernandez, is better known as Bruno Mars. Mars began performing as a young child, but gained wide recognition after the release of his debut single ‘Just The Way You Are’. But he didn't stop there, as he spawned several more international number-one singles like "Billionaire", "Grenade", and "The Lazy Song", which like most of his songs, he also wrote or co-wrote. Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career, brace yourself, because it's a long list. He has 11 Grammy Awards, 10 Soul Train Music Awards, 4 Guinness World Records, and one of the few artists who has a song that features only piano and vocals that topped the Hot 100. To date he has sold over 130 million records worldwide, making him one of the top selling artists of all time. Not to mention the quarter-billion dollars he just bagged on his 24K Magic World Tour.
Not only has Mars collaborated with some of the most popular artists to date, like Cardi B and Beyonce, but over the years, he's also written songs for big names in the industry, like Cee Lo Green, Adele, Matisyahu, Flo Rida, and Adam Levine. In 2011, Mars was listed in Time magazine's famous 100 most influential people in the world list, and Forbes magazine's '30 under 30' in 2013.
Barbara Streisand — $400 Million
Barbara "Barbra" Streisand is among the most iconic women figures in the music and film industry. In a career spanning 6 decades, she has been honored with accolades and awards in multiple fields of entertainment, including 9 Golden Globes, 2 Academy Awards, 10 Grammy Awards (two of them include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award), 5 Emmy Awards, 4 Peabody Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, and was even presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barack Obama. Streisand is also among the small group of artists who have scored an EGOT: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and is only one of two entertainers who have also won a Peabody. Needless to say, she is nothing short of a legend.
As far has her music career, she's sold more than 68.5 million albums in the U.S. and a total of 150 million albums and singles sold worldwide, some of which she has co-writing credits. She is among top-selling female artists recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA and Billboard recognize Streisand as holding the record for the most top 10 albums of any female recording artist. And if that wasn't enough, Streisand is the only recording artist to have a number-one album in each of the 6 decades of her career, having released 53 gold albums, 31 platinum albums, and 14 multi-platinum albums in the U.S..
Toby Keith — $365 Million
Toby Keith Covel is an American country singer, songwriter, and record producer. Hailed as a "traditionalist" in the genre, he's quiet the modern cowboy. His first four studio albums have all earned Gold or higher certification, and he's made several Top Ten singles, including his single "Should've Been a Cowboy", which topped the charts and was the most-played country song of the 90s. It's reported that the song has received over 3 million spins since its release, according to Broadcast Music Incorporated. His next three albums, Pull My Chain, Unleashed, and Shock'n Y'all, were certified 4 times Platinum.
Throughout Keith's career he's released 19 studio albums, 2 Christmas albums, and 5 compilation albums; with a total worldwide sales of over 40 million albums. He has charted 61 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, which includes 20 number one hits (and 21 additional top 10 hits). As of today, he ranks as the 13th richest singer in the world, with a net worth of $365 million, although some report that he's net worth is actually closer to $500 million.
Shania Twain — $400 Million
Canadian country pop singer-songwriter and 5-time Grammy Award winner, Shania Twain, has an estimated net worth of $350 million. She has achieved major success as singer and songwriter, winning 27 Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Songwriter awards. Twain credits the time she ѕреnt wоrkіng wіth hеr fаthеr’ѕ rеfоrеѕtаtіоn buѕіnеѕѕ for giving her the solitude she needed to spark her creativity. After a long day of physical labor, shе uѕеd tо sit in the woods with only her dog and guitar, and wrіtе ѕоngѕ.
In the mid-'90s with her hit album, The Woman in Me, Twain became the most popular country music artist since Garth Brooks. That record became a multi-platinum phenomenon, selling over 9 million copies in America alone. Selling a total of 100 million records globally, Twain's the best-selling female artist in country music history and also one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Many critics of the genre regard her as the "Queen of Country Pop". Fun fact: Twain is a long-time resident of Corseaux, Switzerland, and her only son was born there as well.
Snoop Dogg — $135 Million
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. is best known by his stage name,Snoop Dogg. At a child he would sing and play piano at his church in Long Island, and later began writing rap lyrics as a teenager. After Snoop decided to focus on his music career, he caught the attention of the iconic record producer, Dr. Dre, in 1992, and even featured on Dre's solo debut single, "Deep Cover", and later his solo debut album, The Chronic, which would become a hip hop classic. A year later, in 1993 Snoop released his own debut album, Doggystyle, produced by Dr. De. A project that had high expectations after the public heard his features on Dre's work. Snoop did not disappoint, and the album topped both the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. After selling almost a million copies in the first week, Doggystyle became quadruple platinum. And that was only the beginning.
Since 1992, Snoop Dogg has sold over 37 million albums worldwide and has collaborated with some of the best artists in the industry. In November 2018, Snoop Dogg was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Besides songwriting, Snoop Dogg has starred in films, hosted television shows, and also coaches a youth football league and high school football team.
Eminem — $192 Million
Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, this rapper/lyricist is known my his moniker, Eminem. The rap artist broke the chains of poverty and now one of the richest rappers in the world. Like Snoop Dogg, who we mentioned before, Eminem's fate was sealed when he met Dr. Dre. In 1997, under Dr. Dre's mentorship, he began to slowly rise to fame, but he didn't have an easy path by any means. Ironically, he faced much scrutiny and discrimination for being a white rapper in a majorly black and brown industry, which he depicted in first motion picture 8 Mile. Throughout his career, Eminem has sold nearly 50 million albums in the United States alone, and 100 million albums worldwide. Having bagged 15 Grammy wins (43 Grammy nominations) and an Oscar award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" from his "8 Mile", he among the most celebrated rappers in history.
Eminem might have dabbled with TV and film a bit, but the vast majority of his wealth comes from his legendary music catalog. According to Forbes, he's the best selling rapper of all time. So although Eminem doesn't have huge business ventures like his mentor Dr. Dre, he knows what he's strongest in, music. And he surly makes it work for him. Along with his track sales, performances, and arena tours, he also owns Shady Records, which a relatively successful record label. Needles to say, his bank account is solid.
Stevie Wonder — $110 Million
Before he became known as Stevie Wonder, he was Stevland Hardaway Judkins from Saginaw, Michigan. Despite Wonder becoming blind as an infant, his family recognized from a young age that he was musically gifted and nurtured his talent. By the age of 11 he was a skilled singer and a multi-instrumentalist, and was signed with Motown's Tamla label. Among Wonder's works are hit singles such as "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours", "Superstition", "I Just Called to Say I Love You", and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life".
Stevie Wonder has over 30 U.S. top-ten hits, received 25 Grammy's, and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists in the industry. Іn 2014, Wоndеr rесеіvеd thе Рrеѕіdеntіаl Меdаl оf Frееdоm frоm former Рrеѕіdеnt Ваrасk Оbаmа, and Both the Unіvеrѕіtу оf Аlаbаmа аnd Yаlе Unіvеrѕіtу have granted hіm wіth an honorary Doctorate оf Мuѕіс. Wonder is widely regarded as one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century. He has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame among many others.
James Hetfield — $300 Million
While his name doesn't may not ring a bell to most, nearly everyone knows his band. James Alan Hetfield is the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica, one the most popular metal bands of all time. In 2009, Hetfield was ranked at 8th place in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists, he ranked 24th place by Hit Parader's list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time, and the Rolling Stone placed Hetfield as the 87th greatest guitarist of all time. Not too shabby we might add.
Metallica’s most successful album so far is their 1991 self-titled project “Metallica” which is also known as the Black Album. That album alone has sold 31 million copies worldwide. Metallica has released 24 singles, 10 studio albums, 3 live albums, 4 extended plays which have sold more than 125 million copies globally. Metallica has won 9 Grammys, and in April, 2009, Hetfield and his band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Johnny Mathis — $400 Million
John Royce "Johnny" Mathis was musically educated from a young age, and grew up to be a multitalented musical artist. Because of his Latin heritage, his discography includes traditional Brazilian and Spanish music, but also soul, R&B, soft rock, blues, country music, and even disco. Mathis has also recorded 6 Christmas albums! This superstar has sold more than 350 million records and has been listed on 73(!) Billboard charts, making him the third best selling musician in the 20th century. His awards include the honorary Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and he's also an been inductee of the Grammy Hall of Fame (for three different recordings), as well as the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame.
He owes his fortune to his lucrative career, reportedly selling 350 million albums worldwide of which he wrote and co wrote many of the songs featured, but he's also made wise investment with his money over the years. He owns restaurant chains, stocks and holdings, owns a football team, and has even dabbled in the fashion business. Not to mention that Johnny Mathis is one of the few artists of his caliber that can still sell out tickets whenever he goes on your tours and appearances. Not only is Mathis a talented musician but he's also a gourmet cook, and has published a cookbook inn the past, and a gifted athlete, especially in his younger days. It is said that he could have potentially been an Olympic athlete, if he had missed the tryouts for the high jump. He remains an avid golfer to this day.