Who would have thought being a musician would make you rich? While most people who dream of being a performer, be it as a solo singer or as part of a band, want to do it for the love of music, the incentive of millions of dollars that can be made from albums, touring, merchandise, and endorsements is also a big factor. The richest musicians in the world have no need to worry about everyday issues like paying rent or riding the subway.
The music industry is a big business these days, where a number one song or album can turn a nobody into a somebody. The amount of cash circulating through the industry is incredible, although it’s only a small few who actually make the big bucks. These artists are the biggest and best in the world, musicians who command respect for their talents and even bigger cheques for their performances.
Each year the list of the richest musicians continues to grow and change as those at the top play charades with their positions. While the likes of Paul McCartney, Jay Z, and Dr Dre being high on the list won’t surprise you, there are a few shocks who are making bank. So read on and discover the richest musicians in the world and how much they are worth.
20. Ed Sheeran – $200 Million
Gingernut Ed Sheeran is one of the youngest people on this list. The 31-year-old is already worth $200 million, which will no doubt escalate over the coming years as Sheeran positions himself as one of the richest celebs of this era. Sheeran has done remarkably well to get to where he is. Wanting to be a musician from a young age, Sheeran’s fame really began to expand when videos of him on Youtube started getting noticed.
People such as Jamie Foxx, Elton John, and Jools Holland helped expose Sheeran to a larger audience and it wasn’t long before he scored a record deal with Asylum Records and released his critically acclaimed album +. Since then Sheeran has gone on to release four more critically and commercially successful albums, tour the world multiple times and find a niche in the pop market with his solo musings.
Sheeran has sold over 200 million albums already and he was named the “Artist of the Decade” by the Official Charts Company for his releases between 2010 and 2020.
19. Phil Collins – $300 Million
It’s a good thing Phil Collins has managed to put away a tidy $300 million in savings. The former Genesis member and solo artist has suffered from several major health issues over the past decade, and while still touring, he requires a cane and often has to sit during his performances.
Collins rose to fame as the drummer of Genesis and then became the group’s frontman before breaking out on his own. His biggest hit is arguably “In the Air Tonight,” but Collins has a career littered with top ten singles and Billboard number ones. Along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Collins is one of only three people to have sold over 100 million records as a solo act and as part of a group.
Collings has eight Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards, two Golden Globes, and one Academy Award to his name, highlighting his decorated career and contribution to music over the past six decades.
18. Katy Perry – $330 Million
For someone who has only been in the music industry for two decades, Katy Perry sure has made bank. The “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” and “Roar” singer is one of the most popular modern female pop stars who is also one of the highest earners in the entertainment business. While the bulk of her $330 million has come from her music carer, particularly touring. Perry’s main source of income these days is as a judge on American Idol. TV is where the real money lies.
Perry has also dabbled in the movies, with some small roles in films such as Zoolander 2 and the Smurfs movies, but should really leave the acting to her partner, Orlando Bloom. While her last album, Smile, received mixed reviews, it did exceptionally well commercially and was a hit around the world. Hopefully, it’s not long before Perry announces her sixth album and delivers fans another classic to enjoy.
17. Garth Brooks – $400 Million
Country singer Garth Brooks may have peaked in the 90s, but his dedicated following has helped him remain a major player in the American country music scene. If you need proof, Brooks is the only artist to ever release nine albums that have achieved diamond status. That’s more than the Beatles!
While he continues to write and release music, it’s Brooks’ live performances where he makes the big bucks. He rakes in millions from playing in front of his adoring fans, often touring with his wife and fellow country music star Trisha Yearwood. With $400 million in the bank, Brooks is living the American dream.
16. Jennifer Lopez – $400 Million
Jennifer Lopez is one of those rare entertainers who is a triple threat. She can act, she can sing, and she can dance. Starting life as a backup dancer, she soon transitioned to acting, scoring her breakout role in Selene, playing the famous music star, and in the process, became the first Hispanic actress to earn over $1 million for a lead role. This led to Anaconda (underrated), U Turn, and Out of Sight, establishing Lopez as a bonafide star.
Not satisfied with just acting, she returned to music and released her debut album On the 6 in 1999. She blew up even more and over the course of the next two decades juggled a career as both an actress and singer, earning the big bucks along the way. Her world tours gross hundreds of millions while she commands top dollar for movie roles. Jennifer Lopez has also branched out into other ventures and partnered with many brands to help amass her $400 million fortune.
15. Mick Jagger – $500 Million
Age is just a number. If you don’t believe that saying, just ask Mick Jagger. The frontman of the Rolling Stones is 79 years old and still rocking out with his band while also loving life as a dad of his recently born eighth child. Jagger’s estimated worth of $500 million has been amassed over a 60-year career as a Stone, with the “Paint It, Black” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” singer a long-time player in the music industry.
The Stones remain one of the best-selling bands, having sold over 200 million albums worldwide, won three Grammy Awards, and had 12 UK number one albums. While the Stones are surely on their last legs (sadly drummer Charlie Watts passed away in 2021), Jagger continues to get it done on stage and travel the globe, enjoying his money while he still can.
14. Dr Dre – $500 Million
Remember when everyone thought Dr Dre was hip-hop’s first billionaire then? Well one of the founders of the seminal rap act NWA is a long way off that figure these days, although $500 million is still a nice figure. That’s not having a stub at his business ventures, as Dre has made some of the most shrewd deals in history, but his fortune has taken a hit these days, especially since his divorce from longtime wife Nicole Plotzker.
While the details of the divorce are under wraps, it’s believed that Dre gets to keep his assets due to a prenup, but is still expected to have to pay Plotzker a nine-figure sum. This could account for his lower than imagined bank balance, not that he should worry, as Dre is no doubt working on the next big money earner
Negatives aside, Dre has one of the great careers in hip-hop, having been part of the infamous collective NWA before branching out on his own in the 90s and creating g-funk with his debut album Chronic. He formed his own label and has released two classic albums and one almost classic. His business deal with Apple Music for Beats Headphones will go down as one of the great business plays, netting Dre close to $1 billion.
13. Julio Iglesias – $600 Million
Spanish heartthrob (well, at least 30 years ago) Julio Iglesias has a nice little nest egg that has afforded him a great life in his older years. The now 78-year-old might not be performing live or releasing albums at the rate he once was (his last studio album was in 2017), but he’s still making bank.
He’s the most successful commercial singer from Spain and has sold over 100 million albums in 14 different languages. The father of fellow crooner Enrique Iglesias, the elder statesman really hit his strides in the 60s and 70s and remained an attraction right up until the 00s.
The former Real Madrid youth player also has a lot of money invested in property, with his worldwide portfolio estimated to be worth between $250 – $300 million. Julio Iglesias also somehow managed to become co-owner of the main airport in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, helping increase his fortune to $600 million.
12. Dolly Parton – $650 Million
$650 million is the figure attributed to Dolly Parton’s net worth. The country singer’s career has lasted close to 70 years, in which time Parton has sold over 100 million records worldwide, won 11 Grammy Awards, and built her own theme park, Dollyworld. Breaking out in the 60s and having sustained success in the 70s and 80s, the 90s weren’t too kind to Parton. But she has found a new, younger audience in the 00s and is once again enjoying considerable success.
Parton’s fortune comes mainly from her music, with Parton owning her entire catalog of over 3,000 songs, which is worth an estimated $150 million alone. She is said to earn $20 million a year from royalties for the song “I Will Always Love You,” which was covered by Whitney Houston.
While Dolly Parton makes a lot of cash, she isn’t one to horde it, with the American singer known to have donated millions, especially during the recent pandemic.
11. Bruce Springsteen – $650 Million
It was only a matter of time before the Boss popped up on this list. One of America’s great songwriters, Bruce Springsteen has a career spanning almost six decades that includes over 150 million records sold, 20 Grammy Award wins, 12 top ten Billboard Chart hits, and a tidy $650 million in the bank. He’s also the 7th best-selling male soloist of all time. Not bad for a kid from New Jersey.
Springsteen has built his fortune almost solely from music, with his record sales and world tours earning him the big bucks. He made around $80 million alone last year, and that’s without being able to tour extensively. Bruce Springsteen is one of the greats whose career is almost unmatched. The American singer has done it all, from sold-out shows in South Africa to a Broadway show to playing for the President of the United States Barack Obama. One of the greats.
10. Bono -$700 Million
Frontman of hit act U2 and a political activist, Bono is also living with a hefty bank balance of around $700 million. The Irishman has been performing with his band for over 40 years and in that time they have established themselves as one of the great rock bands of the modern era.
U2 has 22 Grammy Awards, sold between 150 – 170 million albums, and has been regularly ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest rock acts of all time. Like the majority of musicians on this list, Bono’s fortune comes from his time in the band, particularly touring and merchandise sales. He’s also been on the board of several companies, which has no doubt netted him a tidy sum, but it’s not about the money. Bono is all about using his wealth and status as a way to shine a light on human rights issues, with his status also giving him the chance to donate lots of money to a wide range of charity-related organizations.
9. Celine Dion – $800 Million
Canadian Celion Dion is another hugely successful musician who earns just as much from music as she does from other endeavors. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time first got noticed after winning Eurovision in 1988, surprisingly representing Switerzland. She soon landed a record deal and released her debut album, Unison, in 1990, kicking off her domination of the decade.
Having sung in Spanish, Italian, German, Latin, Japanese, and Chinese, Dion has 27 studio albums to her name, 137 singles, and sales of close to 250 million records worldwide. “My Heart Will Go On,” affectionately known as the Titanic song, turned Dion into a megastar, and she has been a constant on music charts around the world.
Like most entertainers, Dion has invested her money wisely in various business ventures, with one of her most successful being Celine Dion Parfums, which has grossed over $850 million in retail sales. Her Las Vegas residency is also a big earner and reportedly worth $100 million. She is credited with helping revive the Strip on her way to being worth a hefty $800 million.
8. Madonna – $850 Million
The Material Girl has sold over 300 million records worldwide and is the fourth highest-selling American artist of all time. Madonna’s longevity can be traced back to her willingness to change and evolve with the music landscape. She is always one step ahead of her peers and has released some of the great songs of the past 40 years, including “Like a Virgin,” “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer,” “Music,” and “Justify My Love.”
Much of her $850 million fortune comes from album sales and tours, with Madonna having made around $1.8 billion from touring. She also has around $80 million tied up in real estate and an art collection worth $100 million, which includes pieces by Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Damien Hirst.
7. Herb Alpert – $850 Million
Who is Herb Alpert we hear you ask? Well, he’s an American trumpeter who became famous as part of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass in the 60s. He’s released 28 albums across his 60-year career, having five number-one albums and having sold over 72 million records worldwide. Alpert also started the record label A&M Records in the 60s, which was eventually acquired by Polygram, netting Alpert a tidy profit.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is worth an estimated $850 million, which is phenomenal considering his main income has come through record releases and touring. But the majority of his fortune comes from the sale of A&M Records, which netted him and his business partner, Jerry Moss, $700 million in 1987, which when adjusted for inflation, is $1.8 million today.
6. Sean Combs – $900 Million
Whether you want to call him his Christian name Sean Combs or one of his aliases (Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Sean John, Puff, Diddy, the list goes on), one thing you can call him is the sixth richest musician in the world. The rapper, producer, clothing designer, and all-around businessman is all about making cash. While he would no doubt love to be a billionaire, $900 million isn’t a bad number to see when you look at your bank account.
Combs’ main income has come from his label Bad Boy Entertainment, which he started in the 90s and has seen releases from The Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Faith Evans, Machine Gun Kelly, and Puffy himself. Diddy also started the clothing line Sean John, which has seen a resurgence of late and has had a hand in revitalizing Circo vodka in exchange for a 50% share of the brand’s profits, which is a pretty good deal. With a new label and album on the way, it won’t be long until Combs hits the billionaires list.
5. Andrew Lloyd Webber – $1.2 Billion
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is sitting pretty with a net worth of a cool $1.2 billion. Webber is the brain behind some of the most successful musicals ever to grace Broadway, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera.
The most successful composer in history, many of Webber’s productions are still running, despite being over three decades old. Knighted in 1992 and in 1997 in the United Kingdom by the former Queen Elizabeth II, Webber has won almost every award you can think of, including six Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, and one Academy Award. He also has an expansive real estate portfolio that has helped pad out his bank account.
4. Paul McCartney – $1.2 Billion
Bursting onto the scene as part of the Beatles, Paul McCartney became one of the most famous musicians on the planet. Everyone knows how big an impact the Beatles had on the music industry, literally changing the game and turning the pop charts on their head. Since the band split, McCartney has continued to perform as a solo artist, having released 17 albums over the past 50 years.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit his pocket these last few years as he’s been unable to tour, in 2019 he made over $100 million playing live, which is a large chunk of his yearly earnings. McCartney also earns a lot of cash through MPL Communications, the world’s largest privately owned music publisher which owns the rights to music from the likes of Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and John Lennon.
While once the highest earning musician, Sir Paul McCartney will have to settle for the fourth spot and just $1.2 billion in the bank.
3. Jay Z – $1.3 Billion
It wasn’t that long ago that Jay Z was topping the 10 richest musician list, but he’s dropped down a few spots after fellow hip-hip and R&B friends Rihanna and Kanye West have overtaken him. According to Forbes, Jay Z is now only worth around $1.3 billion. Tough.
Even without having released any new music or gone out on tour, Jay Z still makes his presence felt on the rich list. Jigga has built an empire that stretches further than music. While his 13 studio albums and relentless touring scheduled during the 00s got him a foot in the billionaire’s door, it’s Jay’s business ventures that have seen him become such a force.
Jay founded the clothing line Rocawear, invested in beauty company Carol’s Daughter, owns the 40/40 Club sports bar chain, opened his own sports agency Roc Nation Sports, and owns Armand de Brignac champagne. He’s invested in more business, but that gives you an outline of the type of deals Jay is making. And if only being the third richest musician in the world gets him down, he only has to look at his wife Beyonce to remind himself he’s the luckiest man on earth.
2. Rihanna – $1.7 Billion
One of the few females on this list, Rihanna has been quietly making the big bucks despite not releasing any new music in six years. New mom Riri, who is worth a reported $1.7 billion, has been focused on her cosmetic line Fenty Beauty, which she co-owns with French luxury retailer LVMH. The company itself is estimated to be worth around $2.8 million according to Forbes. She also has a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which is worth a reported $1 billion.
While her beauty products and lingerie line might be the big money makers, Rihana’s music still earns her a decent amount, while she is always endorsing some type of product that no doubt brings home the back. The 34-year-old is the richest female musician in the world and continues to be a leading light in the fashion world. Now if she could just release that new album…
1. Kanye West – $2 Billion
Is it any surprise Kanye West makes an appearance on this list? While many wouldn’t have picked him as the richest musician in the world, considering the number of pies he has his fingers in, his net wealth makes sense. Not only does West make a fortune from his back catalog of music, which includes not only his solo work, but his guest features and production work, but he’s also earned the big bucks from his fashion endeavors. While some say his worth is around $6.6 billion, Forbes estimate is much more conservative (and on the money), with the business publication claiming he has a net worth of around $2 billion, which is still staggering.
His Yeezy line of shoes in collaboration with adidas has made him hundreds of millions, while his lucrative deal with Gap to produce a range of Yeezy-inspired clothing reportedly earned more than $1 billion in its first year, although West now wants to bail on the deal.
West apparently made a cool $235 million in 2021, which will only grow if he releases more music this year. Love him or hate him, there is no doubt West knows how to make bank.