These iconic songwriters made a fortune
Music — everyone loves it but not everyone makes money from it. But there are songwriters that have been able to live comfortably off their music. Then, there are those with a multi-million dollar net worth! Here we rank some of those artists from least to most wealthy based on estimated net worth. Is your favorite songwriter on the list?
41. Sia — $25 million
Sia is an Australian singer, songwriter, record producer, and music video director best known for hit pop songs and a gorgeous voice. Sia’s also been behind songs of other artists that you might love like “Diamonds” by pop singer Rihanna. She’s had a long career that wasn’t always commercially successful.
However, Sia has always consistently put out new art. Her mainstream breakthrough was probably with her awesome 2013 album, 1000 Forms of Fear, with the single “Chandelier.” The music video featured tiny dancer Maddie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame.
NEXT: This wealthy celebrity is also part of the church of Scientology.
40. Beck — $25 million
Born Bek David Campbell, this songwriter simply goes by “Beck” professionally. He’s most well known for switching around musical styles all the time — and doing it well! Throughout Beck’s musical career, he’s written songs in the genres of alternative, folk, pop, Americana, hip-hop, and more. He’s one of the most creative musicians for sure.
Beck’s mainstream success probably happened with his single “Loser” in 1994. The popular song was then released on the album Mellow Gold the same year. “Loser” helped Beck reach global stardom and make record labels start a bidding war over him.
NEXT: Here’s how much the songwriter behind “Why Georgia” makes.
39. John Mayer — $40 million
It’s a familiar story: talented songwriter attends Berklee College of Music in Boston, drops out, and becomes a multi-millionaire. Mayer’s beginnings were humble but he started to see commercial success quite early in his career. The popular Room for Squares was released as internet only but then Columbia Records remastered and released it.
Soon, songs like “Your Body is a Wonderland” and “Why Georgia” were getting radio play. Mayer’s second album, Heavier Things, received positive reviews but didn’t sell as well as his debut. Despite this, Mayer’s net worth is estimated at $40 million.
NEXT: This songwriter has lots of ponytail and lots of money.
38. Ariana Grande — $50 million
Grande first caught the eyes and ears of the public starring as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon show Victorious. She was able to reach teen idol status with the program but she was more interested in getting into music. Her music career started in 2011 by providing a soundtrack to the TV show.
Grande’s three albums, Yours Truly, My Everything, and Sweetener reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. Credited as a songwriter on several tracks on Yours Truly, she’s the first female artist since Kesha to have a debut top the charts.
NEXT: Which half of Simon & Garfunkel do you think is worth $55 million?
37. Paul Simon — $55 million
When he was writing music with Art Garfunkel, Simon was mainly responsible for the pair’s greatest hits — “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Simon & Garfunkel reached the height of their popularity but decided to call it quits in 1970. Simon went on to have an impressive — and lucrative — solo career.
He’s earned SIXTEEN Grammys in his career, including three for Best Album of the Year. Some of Simon’s most popular hits were “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “Kodachrome,” and “Loves Me Like a Rock.”
NEXT: Is he retiring from music or is he not? Either way, he’s worth $60 million.
36. Michael Bublé — $60 million
There’s been misinformation as to whether or not Bublé is going to retire or not — he told Daily Mail in October 2018 that he was getting out of the music biz. However, Bublé’s management later denied these statements, chalking it up to “tabloid stories.” His original breakthrough is a funny story.
In 2000, an aide to former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, saw Bublé perform then gave Bublé’s album to his boss. Mulroney invited Bublé to sing at his daughter’s wedding. That was where the young singer met Grammy-winning producer, David Foster.
NEXT: He played with the who?! No really — The Who!
35. Pete Townshend — $115 million
Townshend is best known for his playing in the raucous English rock n’ roll band, The Who. He was the main songwriter for this group, having written over 100 songs for the band’s 11 albums over 50 years. Townshend also has written many newspaper and magazine articles. What a talented dude!
Townshend’s breakthrough success with The Who was possible because of their third single, “My Generation.” As writer Mark Wilkerson put it, the Townshend-penned song “cemented their reputation as a hard-nosed band who reflected the feelings of thousands of [aggravated] adolescents at the time.”
NEXT: This multimillionaire also has a very famous brother.
34. Bruno Mars — $150 million
Now he’s living the “24K magic in the aiiiiiiir” lifestyle but things weren’t always this way. Before he was famous, Bruno Mars (left) was born and raised in Hawaii and was one of six siblings. Mars moved to Los Angeles to pursue music eventually. Born Peter Gene Hernandez, he adopted his nickname, “Bruno,” as part of his stage name.
The energetic and soulful singer has had plenty of hits that peaked on Billboard’s charts including “Uptown Funk!” (number one January 17, 2015) and “That’s What I Like” (peaked at number one May 13, 2017). Other significant moments in his career were performing at Super Bowl XLVIII and winning his first Grammy in 2011.
NEXT: This multimillionaire had an extremely famous — and wealthy — brother.
33. Janet Jackson — $175 million
The youngest of the Jacksons, Janet got her start performing on the variety show “The Jacksons” in 1976. She appeared on more TV shows in the ’70s, beginning her music career by signing a contract with A&M in 1982. In 1991, Jackson signed a record-breaking multi-million dollar contract with Virgin.
From there on out, she developed her pop icon image and also continued acting in several films. Billboard named her the second most successful artist of the 1990s — after diva Mariah Carey, of course. Jackson’s sold over 100 million records in her career.
NEXT: His music was known for connecting with the 1960s protest movements.
32. Bob Dylan — $200 million
Arguably one of the most famous singer-songwriters in the world, Bob Dylan has had a storied career and massively influenced the United States’ music industry. Celebrity Net Worth estimates his net worth at a whopping $200 million but some other sources say $180 million. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan is known for songs like “Hurricane” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
Dylan often connected with protest movements. For example, his song “Hurricane” had to do with the imprisonment of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter which some say was racially motivated. “The Times They Are a-Changin'” is another Dylan protest song associated with the U.S. civil rights and anti-war movements.
NEXT: This musician just took home a BRIT Award for a 2018 single.
31. Calvin Harris — $220 million
This Scottish born music producer and DJ used to create and record music in the quiet of his bedroom as a teenager. Times have certainly changed for the award-winning musician, now he sells out shows playing in front of hundreds of fans. Planet Radio says Calvin Harris just picked up a BRIT Award.
Harris and Dua Lipa’s 2018 song “One Kiss” won a BRIT Award for British Single of The Year. He first came onto the scene with his 2007 debut album, I Created Disco, but really became a strong contender in the electronic music scene with his third album, 18 Months.
NEXT: His solo career is a far cry from his boy band past.
30. Justin Timberlake — $230 million
The talented singer-songwriter first came to prominence as one of the singers of swoon-worthy boy band NSYNC. Timberlake broke off from the group and continued his trajectory to fame as a solo artist. His debut 2002 solo album Justified wowed fans and gave us hits like “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body.”
Timberlake has gone on to record five solo records in total. The former NSYNC member showed us his versatility by acting in films like The Love Guru, The Social Network and Trolls, and making us laugh with memorable skits on Saturday Night Live.
NEXT: Songs like “Desert Rose” made this musician filthy rich.
29. Sting — $243 million
Also known as Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, Sting is a singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He first came to prominence with the new wave rock band The Police in 1977 but then launched a successful solo career in 1986. Songs of early prominence were “Every Breath You Take” and “Roxanne.”
With both The Police and his solo career combined, he’s won 16 Grammys and has sold 100 million records. His debut solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) went triple platinum. His third album with the hit “Desert Rose” also went triple platinum.
NEXT: He’s not as popular as Sting but he’s definitely richer.
28. Tim Rice — $250 million
This Englishman is well known for his work with fellow Englishman, Andrew Lloyd Webber. The pair wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. He’s also worked with ABBA, Elton John and Dreamworks. He first started off working at EMI Records in 1966. However, he was meant for much more.
As a lyricist, he’s won pretty much every award you can think of — Academy, Golden Globe, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. Queen Elizabeth II knighted the lyricist in 1994 and Rice earned himself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
NEXT: She wrote for Britney Spears before becoming a pop star herself.
27. Lady Gaga — $275 million
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga is now known for her catchy pop songs and visual experimentation in live shows, music videos and on the red carpet. Gaga worked in the industry as a songwriter for the likes of Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls.
After helping other artists get their big breaks, she soon got one of her own. Gaga released her debut album The Fame featuring now major hits “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” It reached number one in the U.S., Canada, and countries in Europe.
NEXT: She’s sang her songs in about 12 different languages!
26. Nana Mouskouri — $280 million
Unless you’re European, you might not have heard of this prolific musician. Mouskouri (real name Iōánna Moúschouri) is a Greek singer and one of the best-selling musicians in the world. She’s released 200 albums and singles in 12 different languages. Yes, you read that right! For sure there’s not a lot of singers that have done that.
She first came to prominence with her hit song, “The White Rose of Athens.” An adaption of a Greek song, it was first recorded in German. Her music has covered the genres of jazz, pop, folk, Greek folk, and more.
NEXT: Like, Mouskouri, this artist also sings in many different languages.
25. Julio Iglesias — $300 million
Sure you know Enrique Iglesias, but did you know his dad, Julio, is also a talented singer-songwriter? From Madrid, Spain, Iglesias is known for having recorded his songs in 14 languages, having sold more than 250 million records, and winning numerous accolades. He became known to the world for his Latin pop songs but he had other talents too.
When Iglesias was younger, he studied law in university AND played professional football (that’s “soccer” to you, Americans). It was a car accident that ruined his soccer career but led him to music. A nurse gave him a guitar to relearn dexterity in his hands. The rest is history!
NEXT: YouTube paved a way for this singer to start his career.
24. Justin Bieber — $305 million
Bieber first caught the attention of the entertainment industry when talent manager Scooter Braun discovered YouTube videos of the singer. Bieber was signed to RBMG in 2008 and released a debut EP the following year. His full-length with the hit single “Baby” dropped in 2010. People went bonkers when they heard it.
Bieber is all grown now, and people are swooning over his blonde hair, tattoos, and bad boy persona. The pop singer has won multiple awards (including a Grammy!), released four studio albums, starred in movies, and blew up tabloids with his antics.
NEXT: This singer has been active in the entertainment industry since the 60s.
23. Cher — $305 million
An Armenian-American singer and actress, Cher first came to prominence singing with her late ex-husband, Sonny Bono, as Sonny & Cher. They had many hits in the 60s including “I Got You, Babe.” She began her career as a solo artist at the same time, releasing “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and other hits.
She starred in many movies, like Moonstruck and Witches of Eastwick. Her music career continued long after Sonny’s death, gaining great levels of fame. Some call her the “Goddess of Pop.” Cher’s most recent album is Dancing Queen and she’s currently doing a Las Vegas residency.
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22. Jon Bon Jovi — $410 million
His parents might know him as John Francis Bongiovi Jr., but the world knows him as the lead singer of rock band, Bon Jovi. He rose to prominence with Bon Jovi with their single “Runaway” making the Top 40s in the mid-80s. Widespread success came with the release of their third album.
Their fourth album, New Jersey, also did well and sold over 10 million copies. Bon Jovi was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Jon himself was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in early 2009.
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21. Taylor Swift — $320 million
Some songwriters like making their lyrics as vague as possible — not Taylor Swift! She got her start with an artist development deal through RCA Records, where she worked with songwriter Liz Rose. Rose insists she was more of Swift’s “editor,” not needing much songwriting help. From there, Swift signed to Big Machine.
She released a self-titled debut album, reaching an untapped market — teen girls that listen to country. At just 28 years of age, Swift has sold more than 40 million albums and won 10 Grammys, 23 Billboard awards, and 12 Country Music Association Awards.
NEXT: This rolling stone gathers no moss, but millions of dollars.
20. Mick Jagger — $332 million
Both as a solo artist and the frontman of British rock band, The Rolling Stones, Jagger has had a career spanning several decades. At age 75, he’s still playing arenas and selling out shows. Originally, Jagger was enrolled at the London School of Economics considering a career as a journalist or politician.
He dropped out in 1963 when things picked up for The Rolling Stones. The group signed with Decca, getting three times a new act’s typical royalty rate. As a solo artist, Jagger has recorded three albums — Goddess in the Doorway is his most recent.
NEXT: Her dad quit his job to manage this star’s girl group.
19. Bruce Springsteen — $345 million
Often called “The Boss,” Springsteen is known for leading the E Street Band, his folky brand of rock n’ roll, and reppin’ his New Jersey roots. His most popular records were Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. and in total he’s sold more than 135 million records. He’s definitely one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Springsteen got his big break around 1975 performing in New York City with the E Street Band. He then started appearing in magazines, doing media appearances and touring the world. Born to Run shot him to major fame with its poetic and political lyrics.
NEXT: From humble beginnings to Queen Bey.
18. Beyoncé — $355 million
Singer Beyoncé Knowles came from humble beginnings — her mom was a hairdresser and her father was a Xerox sales manager in Houston, Texas. Beyoncé’s talents were discovered early on and she was enrolled at performing arts schools to encourage her blossoming talents. With childhood friends, she formed Girls Tyme which later became Destiny’s Child.
Destiny’s Child signed with Columbia and released the major hit “No, No, No.” The group disbanded but Beyoncé shot to major fame as a solo artist, releasing hits like “Crazy in Love,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and then the notorious Lemonade album.
NEXT: His label, Show Dog Nashville, merged with Universal South Records in 2009 to become Show Dog-Universal Music.
17. Toby Keith — $365 million
The country crooner is best known for songs like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” (one of the most played songs in the 1990s) and “How Do You Like Me Now?!” Toby Keith (born Toby Keith Covel) was associated with big labels like Mercury Nashville and DreamWorks but eventually formed his own label.
Called Show Dog Nashville, Keith’s label merged with Universal South Records, becoming Show Dog-Universal Music in 2009. There’s not a ton of money in being a record label, they say but we think the 40 million albums Keith has sold will cover his expenses.
NEXT: This Québécoise singer behind “My Heart Will Go On” has records in both French and English.
16. Celine Dion — $400 million
Québécoise singer Dion first gained international recognition after winning the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. She learned how to speak English, then signed to U.S based Epic Records. Dion released an English language album, Unison, in 1990 to positive responses in North America.
Dion went on to release international hits like “The Power of Love,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Although especially known for her intense English ballads, Dion continued to release records in her native French like Encore un soir.
NEXT: This songwriter’s seventh album lead him to stardom.
15. Elton John — $500 million
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Elton John started his musical career playing piano in pubs. John’s 1973 album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, earned critical acclaim, skyrocketing him to popularity. Songs from the album like “Candle in the Wind,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” and “Bennie and the Jets” are still fan favorites.
In addition to recording 30 studio albums, John worked on The Lion King soundtrack and musicals like Aida. He sang at the funeral for late Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey and earned the distinction of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
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14. Dolly Parton — $500 million
This country singer first won over hearts appearing on The Porter Wagoner Show, then getting signed to RCA Records. Parton’s initial releases were ignored by mainstream audiences until her 1971 number-one single “Joshua.” She went on to release other hits like “Coat of Many Colors,” “The Right Combination,” and “Travelin’ Man.”
Parton consistently remained in the Top 10 on country charts from 1974 to 1980. She also started a lucrative transition — one from country to pop music. Here You Come Again became her first million-selling album in 1977.
NEXT: This multimillionaire is known for her five-octave vocal range which includes the whistle register.
13. Mariah Carey — $510 million
Carey became known for hits like “Vision of Love” and “Emotions,” as well as her powerhouse vocals and signature singing technique. She became the best-selling recording artist of the 1990s and signed a record-breaking $100 million deal with Columbia in 2000. Throughout Carey’s career, she sold more than 200 million records worldwide.
Carey was born from humble beginnings but her big break came when her demo was handed to the head of Columbia, Tommy Mottola (her future ex-husband). She won over fans and critics alike with her self-titled debut, then went on to influence a generation of R&B singers.
NEXT: He’s best known for singing the iconic “White Christmas.”
12. Bing Crosby — $550 million
He had a song called “I Haven’t Had Time to Be a Millionaire,” but turns out that’s not quite true. Crosby is worth hundreds of millions, says Business Insider, and ranked the 10th wealthiest Americans in the 1930s even before he recorded the iconic “White Christmas.” The 1940s were kind to the crooner as he became a huge movie star as well.
Not only can he sing and act, the man can also take care of business. Business Insider says his company Bing Crosby Enterprises “was the first pop artist entertainment empire, with properties ranging from television stations to Ampex magnetic tape technology to horse tracks.”
NEXT: This songwriter calls his fans “Parrotheads.”
11. Jimmy Buffett — $560 million
He exudes a “beach bum” persona, but singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett is a hard-working man. He’s forrayed not only into music but real estate, business, film producing, and acting. He first saw major success with “Margaritaville” in 1977. In the 1980s, his concerts were very popular — he made more money from them than his albums.
As any smart businessman might do, Buffett started capitalizing on the Margaritaville lifestyle his fans loved him for. He opened a retail store in his home city of Key West and a Margaritaville Cafe franchise. He also co-developed Cheeseburger in Paradise.
NEXT: If Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop,” she was the Queen.
10. Madonna — $590 million
Originally moving to New York City to pursue dance, Madonna ended up performing in rock bands then signing a deal with Sire Records. Her self-titled debut had international hits like “Holiday,” “Lucky Star,” and “Borderline,” but her sophomore album shot her to stardom. That was, of course, Like a Virgin.
Madonna went on to do world tours, star in films, write books, produce a documentary, direct films, and move into business ventures. She’s also done philanthropy work and performed in the most watched Super Bowl Halftime show in history — 114 million views!
NEXT: This songwriter is possibly the richest person in Ireland.
9. Bono — $700 million
Singer, songwriter, venture capitalist, businessman, philanthropist, Grammy winner — what can’t this Irishman do? Bono came to prominence with his band, U2. In 1976, Bono (real name Paul David Hewson) and future members The Edge, Dik and Adam Clayton responded to an ad posted by Larry Mullen Jr. to form a rock band.
Their first big success was with the 1980 album Boy. It received positive reviews with the single “I Will Follow” reaching number 20 on the Top Tracks charts. Later on, Bono became one of the most well-known philanthropists and delved into business ventures.
NEXT: He’s one of the most well-known hip-hop producers — and richest!
8. Dr. Dre — $770 million
He’s not a real doctor although he makes a lot of sick beats… Dr. Dre, born Andre Romelle Young, first saw success DJing and producing with hip-hop group, N.W.A. The group also featured Ice Cube, DJ Yella and Eazy E. He moved on to pursue a career as a solo artist and producer.
Dr. Dre’s first solo effort was The Chronic with the intimidating Suge Knight serving as executive producer. Dre eventually broke off from Knight for obvious reasons.. He then produced world-famous artists like Snoop Dogg and Eminem, founded Aftermath Entertainment, starred in films, and co-produced the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.
NEXT: This Beatle died young but very wealthy.
7. John Lennon — $800 million
Lennon first became wealthy with the famous band he co-founded, The Beatles. The group first saw mainstream success in 1963 when they appeared on the Royal Variety Show in the U.K. Getting onto the The Ed Sullivan Show in the U.S. the next year marked their ascent to international stardom.
The group explored new visions for their music with the albums Abbey Road, then The White Album. The Beatles finally called it quits in 1969 and Lennon then pursued other musical ventures and activism with wife Yoko Ono.
NEXT: He has a lot of different stage names and a lot of money.
6. Sean Combs — $825 million
As an artist, Combs has gone by Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Puff, and Diddy. Mainstream audiences probably recognize Combs’ work on the MTV show “Making the Band” but it’s his music ventures that got him his money. Combs, a rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur, first came to prominence with his debut album.
Combs’ debut, No Way Out, went seven times platinum — a rarity for debut albums. Other successful albums soon followed. Combs also dabbled in business, such as with his clothing line Sean John, Combs Enterprises, restaurants, and more.
NEXT: Would you expect the King of Pop to be anything less than a multimillionaire?
5. Michael Jackson — $825 million
Most fans and critics alike regard Michael Jackson as one of the 20th century’s significant cultural icons. Jackson first came to prominence as part of the Jackson 5 with his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon. He then started a very successful solo career in 1971 while with Motown Records.
Jackson went on to release timeless classics like “Dirty Diana,” “Bad,” and “Thriller.” He became the third best-selling artist of all time. It’s estimated that he sold over 350 million records worldwide. Jackson died at the young age of 50 leaving a lasting legacy behind.
NEXT: He’s the “A” of A&M Records.
4. Herb Alpert — $870 million
Alpert is a jazz musician and music executive at A&M Records, a label he and Jerry Moss (the “M” of A&M) founded. A&M was eventually sold to PolyGram. Alpert’s parents taught him music at a young age while growing up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.
He went on to form his own bands and write songs for the likes of Sam Cooke. Among Alpert’s accomplishments are 28 albums on the Billboard chart, nine Grammy Awards, 14 platinum albums, and 15 gold albums. He’s sold more than 72 million albums worldwide.
NEXT: He’s got 99 problems but money ain’t one.
3. Jay-Z — $900 million
Also known as Shawn Corey Carter (or Mr. Beyoncé), Jay-Z is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time according to critics and fans. He’s had the most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 and is the first rapper to be recognized by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Jay-Z worked hard to get into the music industry, even taking to selling records out of his car. He got a distribution deal for his debut album which landed at #23 on the Billboard 200. It was all uphill from there.
NEXT: One Beatle is much wealthier than all the rest of them.
2. Paul McCartney — $1.2 billion
That’s SIR Paul McCartney to you. He first started accumulating his wealth as part of the Beatles playing an iconic violin bass and harmonizing with John Lennon. McCartney’s notable songwriting contributions to The Beatles were “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” and “Paperback Writer.” McCartney sensed the band’s unease towards the end of their performing career.
He wanted The Beatles to continuing pursuing creative endeavors. McCartney pushed for concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He’s earned the distinction of being one of the wealthiest musicians in the world as a billionaire.
NEXT: The man behind Cats and Phantom of the Opera is just as rich as McCartney.
1. Andrew Lloyd Webber — $1.2 billion
Besides being one of the wealthiest songwriters in the world, Webber is also one of only 15 people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony — an EGOT winner if you will. He always loved music, even as a child. When he was 15, he originally set music to the book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
This possibly became the basis for the musical Cats. Webber was educated at the Royal College of Music and pursued his interests in musical theater. He began working with longtime collaborator Tim Rice when he was only 17 years old. The two went on to create some of the most well-loved musicals in the world.