The music industry is comprised almost entirely of glitz and glamor and it stands to reason that some of the shine is real. Of course, we all know some of the most famous musicians on the planet but do we know the wealthiest? We’re going to look through 35 masters of the music and where they rank in terms of wealth. You’ll see plenty of familiar names on this list but you’ll never guess the first billionaire on our list.
35. Nicki Minaj – $70 Million
We are opening up our list with Nicki Minaj, a talented rapper and pop culture icon. Minaj is the only female rapper on our list and one of the only female artists in the rap game that can make this kind of money. Minaj went platinum in 2011 with her debut album, Pink Friday. If you want to hire Minaj to rap on your track it’ll cost you $50,000 per verse.
34. Tim McGraw – $85 Million
Country music is represented well with Tim McGraw opening up our list for the genre. Born in Louisiana, McGraw broke out in the ’90s as both a singer and an actor. McGraw would go on to become the most popular male singer in the country music world. Of course, McGraw’s marriage to Faith Hill didn’t hurt.
33. Hans Zimmer – $90 Million
Zimmer is our first ‘shocker’ and he won’t be our last. Zimmer is a German-born composer for the film industry. He first began composing in the late ’70s before breaking into the movie industry in the late ’80s. Now Zimmer is a film staple and he is considered one of the true geniuses of the industry.
32. John Williams – $100 Million
Let’s continue our stroll down Hollywood Boulevard with John Williams. Williams is one of the most innovative composers in the history of cinema. He’s the brilliant mind behind the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Jaws soundscape. Of course, it would take days to go through Williams’ whole library.
31. Billy Joel – $180 Million
Joel has been a steadfast part of the music industry since his debut back in the ’65. Since then Joel has released 13 different studio albums while collecting 33 hits on the Top 40 list for the United States. Joel landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in ’99.
30. Usher – $180 Million
Usher has done it all in his career. Starting out in a gospel choir, Usher quickly moved on to become a solo artist with his debut album in 1994. Usher’s album Confessions sold over 10 million copies in the United States. Usher is also a part owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
29. Lars Ulrich – $200 Million
We cross over the $200 million mark with Lars Ulrich — the famous drummer for Metallica. Ulrich is one of the most famous drummers in the history of music as well as one of the most outspoken. Ulrich is famous for his anti-piracy stance.
28. Eminem – $210 Million
Eminem came up mired in poverty in Detroit before turning into one of the most influential rappers in the game. Eminem is one of the biggest white rappers to ever live and one of the most celebrated freestylers of all time. Eminem reached global acclaim with The Marshall Mathers LP.
27. David Bowie – $230 Million
Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowie. Bowie passed away in 2016 as one of the most celebrated multi-talents in the entertainment industry. Bowie was a world renowned singer and songwriter and an accomplished actor. Bowie was part of the industry for over 50 years.
26. Phil Collins – $250 Million
Collins broke into the upper crust of musical royalty as the drummer for the band, Genesis. Collins would eventually go on to become a solo artist with a career that would span over 40 years. Collins would become one of the most celebrated contemporary adult singers in the industry before retiring due to his health.
25. 50 Cent – $250 Million
Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson has been in and out of the news for various reasons, most recently his ‘bankruptcy’ problems. We’re here to put that bankruptcy rumor to rest. 50 Cent gathered a small fortune thanks to his work as a rapper and a savvy businessman.
24. Lady Gaga – $280 Million
Lady Gaga took a huge step toward stardom during the 2016 Presidential Election as she became a vocal activist. Gaga was already one of the biggest pop stars in the world with such celebrated records as The Fame, Born This Way, and Artpop.
23. Beyonce – $300 Million
Call her Beyonce or call her Queen, either way, you are talking about one of the biggest stars in the entire world. Beyonce was a star as a member of Destiny’s Child and now she is one of the most celebrated solo artists of all time. Yeah, her marriage to mogul Jay-Z is a big deal too.
22. Gene Simmons – $300 Million
Simmons is one of rock’s royal members, as the lead singer of the band Kiss. Simmons would stay relevant by scoring a famous reality series, Family Jewels, that would keep some paychecks coming in.
21. Sting – $300 Million
Sting’s career took off once he became a member of the band, The Police. Sting wasn’t content with just being a collaborative artist and soon his solo career was his bread maker. Sting’s solo career kicked off with The Dream of the Blue Turtles back in 1985.
20. Gene Autry – $320 Million
Kicking it old school, Gene Autry is known as the Singing Cowboy. Autry was so much more than just a singer during his long and storied career. Autry was the owner of the Los Angeles Angels, an MLB team, as well as a famous talk show host.
19. Garth Brooks – $325 Million
Garth Brooks may be fading from the top spot of country music royalty, but he sure made his money before doing so. Brooks went from being a bouncer in Oklahoma to being one of the biggest crossover country stars in the history of the genre.
18. Bruce Springsteen – $345 Million
Springsteen has been paying his dues in the music world since his debut back in 1965. Springsteen signed with Columbia Records in 1972 and the rest is history. The Boss has 20 Grammy Awards and almost triple that in nominations.
17. Ringo Starr – $350 Million
You’ll find the two remaining Beatles well represented on our list. Starr was a drummer for the legendary band. Starr started his solo run back in the ’70s and he’s been headlining his band, ‘Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, since 1989.
16. Mick Jagger – $360 Million
Jagger is the iconic lead singer of the Rolling Stones and one of the most accomplished vocalists in music history. Jagger has kept busy when not touring by producing and directing his own movies.
15. Jimmy Buffett – $430 Million
Buffett broke into the musical world as a country singer in 1968 when he recorded his debut album, Down to Earth. Buffet would transition into the laid back, beach singer after moving to Key West in Florida.
14. Dolly Parton – $450 Million
Parton is one of the most prolific female singers in the world. Parton has penned thousands and thousands of songs and she’s a master marketer as well. How many singers have their own theme park, after all? Take a trip to Dollywood to get a taste of her fame and wealth.
13. Coldplay – $475 Million
From Alt-Rockers to insanely rich, the British alt-rock band Coldplay has been slowly but surely taking over the world. Vocalist Chris Martin established the band and does most of the heavy lifting in regards to promotion.
12. Elton John – $480 Million
Elton John is the second wealthiest singer in the United Kingdom and one of the most revered pianists of all time. Sir Elton John is also a notable philanthropist with numerous donations made to his name. John has six Grammy’s, an Academy Award, and even a Golden Globe.
11. Mariah Carey – $500 Million
Mariah Carey has been topping the charts since Nicki Minaj was a child — seriously. Carey has a five-octave range, 18 #1 singles, and five Grammy Wins to her name.
10. Emilio Estefan – $500 Million
Emilio Estefan may not be as well known as his wife, Gloria Estefan, but he’s definitely just as prolific. Emilio is a famous producer and an incredible businessman. Estefan has produced musical events for the White House, the Latin Grammy’s, HBO and even Showtime. He is also a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins.
9. Jay-Z – $550 Million
Surprised to see Jay-Z so low on our list? Still, Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter clocks in at over half a billion dollars in career earnings. Jay-Z was a game changer in the hip-hop game as a producer and an artist. Jay-Z also has his own line of products including the famously high-end clothing line, Rocawear.
8. Bing Crosby – $550 Million
Bing Crosby is so much more than just his famous hit, ‘White Christmas’. Crosby was one of the first pop culture kings before there really was a ‘pop culture’. Crosby was a crossover artist with huge appeal.
7. Madonna – $560 Million
Madonna is the Queen of Pop and one of the most successful artists alive. Madonna has mixed a punchy attitude with a willingness to ride the edgy personality that made her so popular in the ’80s. Madonna has grossed over $1 billion in concert sales over her 30 years of performing. She is also an Academy Award-nominated actress.
6. Michael Jackson – $600 Million
Michael Jackson was the King of Pop before his untimely passing. Despite his death, Jackson is still one of the wealthiest artists in the world — for the benefit of his estate. Jackson is a cultural landmark, a musical genius, and one of the most misunderstood artists of our generation.
5. Dr. Dre – $700 Million
Dr. Dre is one of the wealthiest self-made businessmen in the world. Dre made his mark as a producer in the rap game but he clearly wasn’t content with that. Dr. Dre went from being part of Public Enemy to selling high-end headphones and laptops. He’s on the edge of becoming a hip-hop billionaire.
4. Sean ‘P Diddy‘ Combs – $750 Million
Puffy may have taken a backseat in the spotlight recently but he’s the wealthiest player in the hip hop world. Combs started as an intern at Uptown Records before going on to start his own company, Bad Boy Records. Combs helped bring the Notorious B.I.G. to prominence and the rest is history.
3. Herb Alpert – $850 Million
Herb earned his musical clout as part of Hero & Albert. Since then Alpert has solidified himself as a cornerstone of the musical world as the recording executive for A&M Records. Albert has sold over 72 million records in his career.
2. Andrew Lloyd Webber – $1.2 Billion
We cross the billion dollar threshold with a composer for theater! Strange, right? Andrew Lloyd Weber has 3 Grammy’s, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and 7 Oliver Awards to his name. Webber’s most famous work includes The Music of the Night, Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina, and You Must Love Me.
1. Paul McCartney – $1.24 Billion
McCartney is the wealthiest musician in the world and the most famous artist to come out of the U.K. McCartney may have peaked with the Beatles but his career has never slowed down. Now McCartney has over 100 million record sales attached to his name and a Guinness World Record for being the most successful recording artist ever.