Do singers make a lot of money? Well, if you’re in the top echelon of artists, then the answer is unquestionably “yes!”
Some of the richest singers diversify their income streams by starting business ventures, getting into real estate, or by becoming art collectors, but it’s safe to say their first million was earned the hard way – by climbing to the top of the music industry, one, slow, plodding step at a time.
Money is a moving target. People earn it, people lose it. And this is no different for artists, who might have a net worth of over $600 million one day, and suddenly be down to $200 million the next. Depending on the day, some of the following singers may be up or down.
Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that these are among the highest paid and most successful singers in the world.
Paul McCartney – One Of The Richest Singers Of All Time
One of two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney is well-known as an all-around positive guy and accomplished singer, songwriter, and bassist. His net worth is said to be $1.2 billion, making him one of the richest musicians in the world. This is hardly surprising considering the enduring influence of The Beatles, as well as McCartney’s own successful solo works and collaborations.
The Beatles were even named Forbes’ richest musicians in 2011 ($107 million), 1997 ($165 million), 1996 ($225 million), and 1995 ($231 million).
The Beatles are the best-selling music act of all time. They’ve sold more than 600 million albums worldwide. They hold multiple records too – the most singles sold in the UK, the most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart, and the most number one hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
They won seven Grammy Awards, 15 Ivor Novello Awards, and countless others. They were, of course, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well.
McCartney himself has written or co-written 32 Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping hits, he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (as a Beatle and solo musician), has won 18 Grammy Awards, and was even knighted in 1997.
Some of his best songs include “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Every Night,” “Here Today,” “The World Tonight,” and “Beautiful Night.”
Rihanna – Easily One Of The Richest Musicians
Barbadian singer Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty) has an eye-popping net worth of $1.7 billion USD, which can only mean one thing, that she’s one of the richest singers walking this green earth. Her success seems to know no limits with just eight studio albums, and reportedly a ninth in the works.
Her salary, meanwhile, is reported to be $70 million per year. Rihanna is considered the wealthiest female musician in the world, she owns 50% of Fenty Beauty (which is worth an estimated $1.5 billion), owns 30% of SAVAGE X FENTY lingerie (worth $1 billion), and has over 100 million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
You’ll know her best for songs like “Diamonds,” “Stay,” “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Work,” “Umbrella,” and “We Found Love.”
“Queen of pop” Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone) rose to popularity in the 80s as a controversial figure, pushing the societal boundaries of sexually charged stage performances. She’s made some missteps on her long-lasting career, sure, but not enough to prevent her from dominating through the decades (and she’s still active today).
Madonna reportedly has a net worth of $1.2 billion, largely stemming from her live performance efforts. She was also named Forbes’ highest earning musician in 2013 ($145 million), 2009 ($139 million), and 2005 ($69 million).
The best-selling female recording artist of all time, Madonna has sold more than 300 million records worldwide, owns over $100 million worth of art, and owns $80 million worth of real estate. Like Elton John, she’s well diversified.
Some of her top singles include “Vogue,” “Ray of Light,” “Express Yourself,” “Holiday,” “Like a Virgin,” and “Like a Prayer.”
Irish singer-songwriter Bono’s (Paul David Hewson’s) net worth is said to be a cool $1 billion USD. Although he’s taken on the odd solo project, his steady gig with rock band U2 is what has elevated him to being one of the most recognized and highest paid singers in the genre.
U2 has been named Forbes’ highest-earning musicians more times than just about any artist or band you can name – 2018 ($127 million), 2011 ($235 million), 2010 ($162 million), 2006 ($148 million), and 2002 ($104 million).
After signing with Island Records, U2 released their debut album, Boy, in 1980. They began to cement their presence in UK with 1983’s War, which featured the singles “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).”
U2 continued their evolution, becoming world renowned for their live act in the mid-80s. But it would be 1987’s breakthrough studio album, The Joshua Tree – their fifth – that would propel them to international success. “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” stand as their only number-one U.S. singles to date(!).
U2 would reinvent themselves through the 90s, and find widespread commercial success again in 2000, with All That You Can’t Leave Behind as well as How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, to mixed reviews (as they started going more mainstream with their sound).
To date, U2 have released 14 studios albums. They are one of the world’s best-selling music artists and have won 22 Grammy Awards. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Canadian singer Celine Dion is the best-selling Canadian recording artist, as well as the best-selling French-language artist of all time. Her net worth is reportedly $800 million, with a good chunk of her income coming from her Las Vegas residency in recent years.
“Priestess of Pop” Dion would achieve worldwide fame in the 90s with Falling into You and Let’s Talk About Love. Both albums were certified Diamond in the U.S., and both amassed 30 million sales worldwide.
Dion would even land multiple international number one hits, like “Think Twice,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” “The Power of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” “I’m Your Angel,” and “My Heart Will Go On.”
Having established herself as a successful singer and recording artist in the 90s, Dion would go onto become a highly successful live performer in the 2000s.
Dion is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, has won five Grammy Awards, and even has the most number-one songs on the radio format for a female artist.
Country superstar and darling Dolly Parton has had a long-lasting career, beginning in 1956. At age 76, she is still active in the music industry today! She has amassed a stunning $650 million net worth, though some reports suggest it’s closer to $350 million. Either way, she’s done okay for herself, whether as a singer, actress, or businesswoman.
Dolly Parton has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist, has earned $20 million in royalties from Whitney Houston alone (“I Will Always Love You”), her Dollywood theme park welcomes three million visitors per year, and she has raised and donated millions to charity.
Some of her most memorable tunes include “Islands in the Stream,” “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5”, and of course, “I Will Always Love You,” which kind of became Whitney Houston’s signature tune.
This may come as a bit of a surprise, but Bruce Springsteen made it to the top of Forbes’ list of highest-earning musicians in 2021 at an incredible $435 million. He became the highest-earning musician in 2004, at $92 million, and 1987 as well, at $134 million.
“The Boss” has a net worth of $650 million and earns roughly $80 million per year.
With a long, illustrious career that continues to this day, it’s hard to summarize all that Bruce Springsteen has accomplished to this point, but we’ll try.
Springsteen has 20 studio albums. He’s sold 150 million+ records across the world, with over 64 million albums in the U.S. He’s earned 20 Grammy Awards, and a multitude of others, even being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Though his popularity was already on the rise, Springsteen originally found worldwide success with the launch of 1975’s Born to Run, following it up with Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and The River (1980), all of which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. 1984’s Born in the U.S.A. would be the album to send him over the top, though, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time.
With a $600 million net worth, Spanish singer and songwriter Julio Iglesias has sold over 100 million albums worldwide in 14 languages. To date, it has been estimated that he’s performed more than 5,000 concerts to over 60 million people in five continents.
Celebrated as one of the most commercially successful Spanish singers and top record sellers in music history, Iglesias has won awards too numerous to mention. His discography includes well over 40 studio albums (some estimate 80).
Some of his best songs include “Crazy,” “Dios Amigos,” “Esa Mujer,” “Nathalie,” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”
The legendary Sir Elton Hercules John is one of the best singer-pianists to emerge from Britain. Still active in the music industry as a 75-year-old, Elton John’s net worth is $500 million.
Elton John has sold an amazing 300 million albums worldwide, makes $80 million per year in touring alone, earns half a million per night in Las Vegas, owns $100 to $200 million worth of art, and even owns $50 million worth of real estate. You could say that “The Rocket Man” is well diversified.
As a musician, Elton John’s discography is well worth studying, regardless of the genre you play. Some of his biggest hits include “Crocodile Rock,” “Your Song,” “Honky Cat,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Rocket Man.”
Cuban American singer, songwriter, producer, actress, entrepreneur Gloria Estefan’s estimated net worth is $500 million. She’s one of the most successful crossover artists in music history, and she has sold over 130 million albums worldwide.
Estefan would find worldwide success with Miami Sound Machine’s 1985 single “Conga.” In 1988, they earned their first number-one hit, “Anything for You.”
Estefan would sustain a life-threatening fracture in 1990, but thankfully made a full recovery in just under a year. She would return with her 1991 comeback, Into the Light.
She would go onto win her first Grammy Award with the Spanish-language album Mi Tierra, which was the first album to go Diamond in Spain.
Besides winning three Grammy Awards, “Queen of Latin Pop” Esetfan has enjoyed 38 number one hits, and 15 chart-topping songs.
“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “Anything for You,” “Here We Are,” and “Can’t Stay Away from You” are all well worth a listen.
“Queen Bey” Beyoncé is a cultural icon. She’s one of the best-selling recording artists with over 200 million records sold worldwide. She is the first artist to have had seven studio albums debut at the top of the charts on the Billboard 200. She’s even received 28 Grammy Awards, 26 MTV Video Music Awards, 31 BET Awards, 17 Soul Train Music Awards, and much more.
She is also one of the highest-earning black musicians of all time. Her net worth is $500 million.
Beyoncé participated in many singing and dancing competitions as a youngster, eventually landing the role as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child (one of the best-selling girl groups of all time) in the late 90s.
During Destiny’s Child’s hiatus, Beyoncé would release Dangerously in Love, with “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” becoming number-one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Destiny’s Child would disband in 2006, and Beyoncé would go onto release multiple albums and star in many films, especially in the 2000s. With her 2008 release, I Am… Sasha Fierce, she would earn a record-setting six Grammy Awards in 2010.
That’s right – Posh Spice did quite well for herself! Singer, actress, philanthropist Victoria Beckham has a stunning net worth of $450 million, which is the combined net worth with her hubby David Beckham.
Beckham would initially find success with the Spice Girls, which rose to prominence in the mid- to late-90s. Their debut album, Spice, would sell more than 23 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling album by a female group in all of history. The 1997 follow-up Spiceworld would also go onto sell 14 million copies worldwide.
In total, the Spice Girls sold 100 million records worldwide. They’re the best-selling girl group of all time, and they’ve been decorated with countless music industry awards.
Being a Spice Girl certainly didn’t hurt her career, but Beckham is also an internationally recognized style icon and fashion designer.
Given her stratospheric rise in the music industry since 2004, Taylor Swift’s presence in this guide should surprise absolutely no one. She was even on Forbes’ list of highest earning musicians in both 2016 and 2019 (with $192 million and $196 million, respectively).
Swift’s net worth is said to be $400 million but give her time – if she keeps on this trajectory, she’ll be a billionaire before long. Her annual salary is said to be $150 million, which is the highest reported of any musician in this guide.
Swift has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, owns $90 million in real estate, and holds the record for the most one-day streams on Spotify.
Swift’s biggest hits include “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “Blank Space,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Love Story,” and “Shake it Off.”
The bubbly and perky Katy Perry (or Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson) has remained a staple in the music industry since 2001. Some of her biggest hits include “California Gurls,” “Roar,” “Firework,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Teenage Dream,” and “Wide Awake.”
In 2015, she earned $154 million and was named Forbes’ highest-earning musician. Her net worth is said to be $330 million, and her salary a cool $25 million.
Katy Perry, like many (Jessica Simpson comes to mind), started out in gospel music but did not find any success in the genre, quickly switching over to secular oriented music. She would find fame with her major label debut and second album, One of the Boys. The songs “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot n Cold” both became top three hits.
In 2010, Teenage Dream would spawn five number one singles, including “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream.”
With her fame and success well-established, Perry would follow up with 2013’s Prism, 2017’s Witness, and 2020’s Smile, delving into topics like self-empowerment, liberation and politics, as well as motherhood.
Altogether, Perry has three U.S. number one albums, nine U.S. number one singles, and has won a multitude of awards.
“Songbird Supreme” Mariah Carey is more than a mere singer. She’s a cultural icon. At 53 years of age, her net worth is said to be a cool $320 million, and she is one of the 15 best-selling artists of all time.
As the second-best selling female artist of all time, Mariah Carey has sold 200 million albums worldwide, has more number-one songs than any female artist, was paid $50 million by Virgin Records just to produce one album, was paid $18 million to appear on one season of American Idol, and makes $600,000 per year in royalties for “All I Want for Christmas,” a modern Christmas classic.
Her number one hits include “Honey,” “All I Want for Christmas,” “Emotions,” “Vision of Love,” “Always Be My Baby,” and “Fantasy,” a track that was co-producer by Carey herself, along with P Diddy and Dave Hall.
Highest Paid Singers, Final Thoughts
There’s something we can learn from each one of the successful singers referenced above. And I don’t think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that their wealth is a byproduct of them pursuing their passion. There are easier ways to make money than to become a singer!
It will be interesting to watch who rises through the ranks to become one of the richest musicians next.