Net Worth: $663 million
Date of Birth: 19th Jan, 1946
How They Make Money: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Record producer, Composer, Businessperson, Actor, Film Producer, Multi-instrumentalist, Philanthropist
Dolly Parton is an American songwriter, singer, actress, entrepreneur, and author. Dolly Parton’s estimated net worth is $663 million. She is recognized for writing and singing hit country songs like ‘Jolene,’ ‘I Will Always Love You,’ and ‘9 to 5,’ which featured in the top-10 country Billboard charts in the 80s. During her 40-year-old career, Dolly has sold more than 100 million albums as a solo artist, more than other artists ever sold.
How Dolly Parton Makes Money
Dolly Parton has made a fortune through her music career, record label, and other ventures. A significant part of her income comes from the royalties of the 40+ country music albums she has created in her lifetime and multiple investments.
So, how much money does Dolly Parton make? Here’s a detailed breakdown of Dolly’s sources of income and how much money she makes:
Dolly Parton started off as a country music singer at the early age of 9 years. Parton, with her uncle's help, had established a music publishing company in 1966 after her contract with Combine Music expired. This means Dolly maintains full ownership of her publishing rights and receives royalties for the same. Dolly earns $0.08 every time her song is played on the radio and $2 for each album sold.
Not only does she earn royalties from her solo hits but also collaborations with other artists. In the 90s, for example, she earned a cool $10 million from her collaboration with Whitney Houston for the song ‘I Will Always Love You.’
With a library of over 41 country music albums, Dolly Parton receives a healthy amount in royalties every year. A lot of those royalties come from Spotify, where she averages more than 14 million listeners per month. In the last 30 days at the time of writing, she got 14,219,436 monthly listeners from Spotify. Assuming she makes $3 for every 1000 streams, that’s $42,658.30 per monthly Spotify.
She has also sold over 100 million albums throughout her career, and collaborations with other artists have earned her millions of dollars. Her entire music catalog is estimated to be $150 million.
Although being a recording artist helps an artist earn a lot of money, songwriting is the real deal, and Dolly Parton knows it. She has written a majority of her songs and or other artists as well. Dolly has written for Hank Williams Jr, Tina Turner, and Sinead O’Connor.
Besides her flourishing music career, Dolly has been featured in several movies that have earned her millions. Dolly Parton starred in the 1980 movie called ‘9 to 5,’ which made $103 million, and the 1989 ‘Steel Magnolias,’ which earned $100 million.
The star still appears on screen, albeit in her seventies. She recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce and create her documentary called ‘Dolly Parton: Here I am.’ The film did well, earning Parton another spot on a television series called Dolly Parton Heartstrings. The series is based on Dolly’s songs and has an entire season on Netflix. In addition to appearing in movies, Parton has written many soundtracks for TV shows and films, earning her a good paycheck.
Dolly Parton has invested a significant part of her income in real estate, the most notable being the Dollywood amusement park. It was opened in her hometown, Tennessee in an attempt to give back to the community. Dolly, in partnership with Herschend Family Entertainment, transformed the old Silver Dollar City into an amusement park creating a place where locals could visit and relax.
Dolly’s natural connection to her hometown made the park a natural hit. It attracted 1.3 million visitors during the first season, a 75% increase of Silver Dollar City’s season in the previous year, and today, Dollywood is the most visited park in Tennessee. It attracts more than three million visitors, making about $40 million annually. With a 50% stake in Dollywood, Parton earns a substantial income from the park.
Besides Dollywood, Parton has acquired and established hotels and amusement parks. She is the co-owner of Splash Country water park which has an estimated worth of $20 million, dinner theaters and eight restaurants, as well as DreamMore Resort and Spa (worth $15 million).
Parton has also performed as a headliner at Glastonbury, a role that has performers earning over $1 million per set. It has been said that Glastonbury performers earn less than 10% of what other performers get in other festivals. Others say the earnings could be close to $237,000 for each headline slot. Dolly featured as a headliner for the 2014 performance, but it’s unclear how much she earned.
How Does Dolly Parton Spend Money
Parton is known for her overwhelming generosity and willingness to help others, so it’s not surprising to see her spending a significant part of her income on charitable works.
Care More Initiative
Care More Initiative is the most recent Dolly Parton launched. The Initiative was established in 2022 to allow Dollywood Parks and Resorts employees to take a day off. The idea was to encourage her employees to volunteer at a non-profit organization of their choice.
A Million-dollar Gift to Moderna Vaccine
One such gesture is evident in her contribution to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help research coronavirus.
According to a New England Journal of Medicine report, Dolly Parton donated $1 million to the Medical Center, making her one of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine sponsors. Her funding hastened the research toward the vaccine.
Doggy Line Proceeds to an Animal Shelter
More recently, Dolly Parton launched a dog apparel line called Doggy Parton. The line consists of 20 products, including cowboy hats, collars, clothing, toys, accessories, and blonde wigs for dogs. Dolly’s music, style, and love for pets inspired her to start the pet-friendly line, which features a little of her signature flair. Staying true to her charitable ways, Dolly Parton planned to donate a significant part of the proceeds to Willa B Farms, a rescue center.
My People Fund
Dolly is also credited with establishing My People Fund, an initiative that saw families that lost homes in a wildfire receive monthly checks. Dolly Parton started the fund through the Dollywood Foundation, but it quickly grew to more than 100,000 donations thanks to the star-studded country music telethon.
At the time of the tragedy, Dolly was in the middle of her Pure & Simple tour. She followed the news closely through the media and her staff to determine the extent of damage and the best way to help families recover from losses.
She posted short videos sharing her response to the tragedy and urging people to donate to the course. The fund received $1 million of donations a few hours after the announcement, which grew to $9 million after a three-week campaign.
Cumulatively, My People Fund collected $12 million, double the amount Dollywood Foundation wanted to raise. Each family received $10,000 over six months to help with the recovery. After the distribution, a $3 million balance was donated to the Mountain Tough Recovery Team, another organization tasked with aiding wildfire recovery.
Sevier County Fire Scholarships
In addition to donating over $10 million to families affected by the Great Smokey Mountains wildfires, Dolly Parton provided college scholarships to graduating high school seniors. The Wildfire Scholarship Fund granted high school seniors whose families were impacted by the wildfire a $4,500 scholarship.
Million-dollar Donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dolly Parton donated a million to the university to fund its research on infectious diseases affecting children. Parton donated the amount in honor of her niece, Hanna Dennison, who had been treated for leukemia at Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital through the university’s Pediatric Cancer program.
Special Merit Scholarship
Parton is also credited with awarding a $30,000 scholarship to a two-year-old girl called Evey Johns. The little girl received the scholarship in recognition of her tremendous efforts in shipping out over a million books per month through the Imagination Library program. The scholarship would go to Evey’s college of choice.
Imagination Library to Enhance Literacy
Dolly’s philanthropic work dates back to the 80s and 90s. She’s credited with launching the Imagination Library, a book gifting program dedicated to enhancing kids’ literacy. Dolly credits her father with starting the program. Since her father struggled to read, Dolly decided to develop a program that would enable kids to read, even if they couldn’t afford an education.
Dolly Parton, in partnership with local communities in Canada, the United States, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom, launched the program in 1995. So far, the program has distributed more than 172 million children's books.
The books, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, are gifted free of charge to children aged five and above. Kids receive age-appropriate books addressing diverse topics, including school preparation, diversity, nursery rhymes, and safety. And the beauty of it all is that the books are available in different formats, including braille and audio.
Once your child signs up for the program, they receive a new book every month with titles ranging from ‘The Little Engine That Could’ to ‘The Bug Book,’ ‘Kindergarten,’ ‘Here I Come!’ and more.
Dollywood Foundation & Imagination Library
Founded in 1988, Dolly Parton established Dollywood Foundation to encourage children in Sevier County to achieve educational success. The program later morphed into the Imagination Library, which distributes books worldwide.
The scholarship would grow to $15,000 for four students and later to four high schools, including Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg-Pittman, and Seymour, in a bid to boost graduation rates and college attendance. The scholarship is awarded to students who wish to pursue a dream and can successfully communicate their plan.
The foundation also receives generous donations from renowned people. The most recent was from Jeff Bezos. The billionaire donated $100 million to the Foundation in Nov 2022 to fund charities of her choice.
Chasing Rainbows Award
The Imagination Library, in conjunction with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, created the Chasing Rainbows Award to honor a teacher who has overcome obstacles and made a difference in the lives of children. The award was first presented in 2002 but is now awarded every year to a deserving teacher. The winner spends a week at Dollywood as Parton’s honored guest.
The Buddy Program
After launching Dollywood Foundation, Dolly shifted her focus to reducing the high school drop-out rate in her home county. As such, Parton promised 7th and 8th graders $500 if they graduated from high school. The initiative was effective as the dropout rate reduced from 35% to 6%.
Donation to LeConte Medical Center
In 2007, Dolly Parton helped raise money for LeConte Medical Center, a hospital with a cancer unit in Sevier County. Besides the $500,000 raised through the initiative, Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner theater and Dollywood pledged $250,000 to the hospital, bringing the total amount to $1 million.
Besides the numerous charity initiatives, Dolly Parton is an avid real estate investor. She invested $300 million in the famous Dollywood amusement park and plans to expand it again in the next decade by setting up a new resort called HeartSong. The resort will be built near DreamMore Resort and Splash Country water park. Parton also owns the Stampede dinner attraction and Smoky Mountain Cabins.
Dolly Parton owns a $400,000 home in Brentwood, Nashville, with her husband, Carl Dean. The property is probably worth way more than the buying price as she bought it over two decades ago (1999). The singer unveiled more of the property’s luxurious space, which features a farm, tennis court, chapel, music room, and a swimming pool. The kitchen, living room, and bedrooms feature modern appliances and high-end décor themes.
How Dolly Parton Got on This Path
Dolly Parton was born in 1946 to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Caroline. She is the fourth of the 12 kids who were brought up in a one-bedroom in Tennessee. Parton recalls that her family was so poor that her father offered a bag of oatmeal to the doctor who helped in her delivery.
Dolly credits her musical abilities to her mother who would entertain her kids with ancient ballads and Mountain folklore. Avie Lee was well acquainted with old ballads given her rich Welsh ancestral background.
Dolly Parton began performing as early as age 9, appearing on radio shows and local TV programs in East Tennessee. When Parton turned 10, she appeared on the then-famous Cas Walker Show on radio and TV in Knoxville. By the time she was 13 years, Dolly was recording her first single, ‘Puppy Love,’ after signing with Goldband Records.
After high school graduation, she moved to Nashville to work on her singing and songwriting career. Dolly signed with Combine Publishing soon after and later with Monument Records when she turned 19. However, the latter labeled her a bubblegum pop singer due to her soprano voice.
She later began making appearances on a TV program called ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ in place of Norma Jean, who had left the show. Wagoner played a critical role in Parton’s career as he helped her get signed by RCA Records when she released her first single, ‘The Last Thing on My Mind.’ The song was released in 1967 and clinched a spot on the country’s top 10 hit songs in 1968. Parton released another song, ‘Just Because I’m a Woman,’ in the same year, which clinched number 17.
However, her songs hit a snag during the next two years, as none of her solo singles featured in the top 10 country music charts. It was then that Wagoner convinced Parton to record ‘Mule Skinner Blues’ by Jimmie Rodgers. The song was an instant hit as it was number three, followed by Parton’s ‘Joshua,’ one of her solo hits.
The following two years saw Dolly’s singles feature in the Top 20 singles. However, it wasn’t until she released ‘Jolene’ that she got a major break. The song topped the country charts in 1974 and featured in the Hot 100 charts, including UK charts.
She decided to leave Wagoner’s organization to build her brand and career as a solo artist.
At the same time, Elvis Presley proposed to record a song on the condition that Parton relinquished half of the publishing rights to any other song recorded by the label. Dolly refused. This intelligent business decision saw Parton build wealth since she began singing in 1966.
Dolly has had tremendous success in her music career with 25 of her songs appearing on Billboard country music charts. She has also had 44 career top 10 country albums, a record she still holds till today.
Dolly Parton’s Net Worth, Final Thoughts
Dolly Parton net worth of $663 million, is, without a doubt, a reasonable sum given her successful music career, multiple talents, and business acumen. Having written more than 3,000 songs spanning six decades and earned many accolades, including American Music Awards, Grammy Awards, and Country Music Association Awards, she’s probably worth much more. She’s even said she could buy Graceland, which is about 400 million, so she wasn’t lying.