Country music has long been the heart and soul of American culture. Relatable lyrics sung over twangy guitar and earnest drawling voices has earned a place right next to Apple Pie, Baseball, and McDonalds — things that are fundamental to our American experience. With all of that being said nobody really gives country music the ‘flashy’ label. There seems to be relatively little glitz and glam with more of a ‘salt of the Earth’ type feel instead. Still, there are some heavy hitters out there in the country music scene that are just raking in the dough. We pulled together 30 of the highest paid country music stars in the world and you’ll be shocked by who landed at #1!
30. Brett Eldredge: $242,424
Eldredge released his debut album Bring You Back in 2013 where he saw it peak at #11 on the US Charts. Follow up release Illinois, in 2015, peaked at #3 in the United States. He’s a burgeoning artist with some real star potential.
29. Sam Hunt: $255,000
We all take different roads to our dreams and Sam Hunt’s is as interesting as anyone’s. Hunt played quarterback in college and graduated from UAB. He was scouted by NFL teams for a few months before deciding to turn toward music. That risk has turned out pretty well as Hunt has a prolific resume already: he co-wrote Kenny Chesney’s hit Come Over, he penned a track for Keith Urban, and he’s established himself as a legitimate Billboard threat with his own work.
28. Little Big Town: $363,000
Little Big Town continues to rake in the cash almost 30 years after getting their start in the music world. Right now the band is touring on their newest album, Wanderlust, and they are rejuvenating their old fanbase thanks to guest vocals by Justin Timberlake and Pharrell on the new record.
27. Cole Swindell: $350,000
Right now Swindell is fresh off of his sophomore release, You Should Be Here, and continued touring should inflate his yearly earnings. His first two albums have both made their way up into the Billboard 200 Top 10 list.
26. Chris Young: $352,941
Chris Young broke into the industry after winning the TV show Nashville Star which aired on USA. Young hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings and he stays active in a philanthropic capacity: donating money to the Nashville School of the Arts and being an active supporter of Little Kids Rock – a charity that gets children into music.
25. Thomas Rhett: $588,000
Rhett is another young face with prolific writing credits in his catalog. Rhett has penned singles for Lee Brice, Jason Aldean and even Florida Georgia Line. Citing influence from Tim McGraw as well as Brooks & Dunn, Rhett dropped out of college in order to pursue music. A heart-melting fact: he married his first grade sweetheart.
24. Brantley Gilbert: $1.2 Million
Brantley Gilbert is a young man with an old soul. Gilbert broke into the industry back in 2011 with his hit song Dirt Road Anthem. Since then he’s been a regular at the CMA Awards and a rising favorite among the ‘true country’ crowd.
23. Darius Rucker: $1.6 Million
Darius Rucker is a musical icon with a Grammy in his back pocket for his work in the band he personally founded, Hootie & The Blowfish. Now Rucker is going out there on his own and dropping solo albums to much success and critical acclaim. Rucker is from South Carolina and he has been in the business since 1986.
22. Dierks Bentley: $2.8 Million
Dierks Bentley is a country music staple. Having gotten his start in the industry with a self titled album back in 2003, Bentley has gone on to release over 25 singles with 14 of them reaching the top spot on the Billboard US Top 200. Needless to say, Bentley is doing well for himself as almost every album he releases makes it to Gold or Platinum status.
21. Lady Antebellum: $4.6 Million
This three piece country group made it to the Big Show back in 2007 when they signed to Capitol Nashville. The band has dropped five albums since then with the first three gaining Platinum or Gold status. Lady Antebellum won their first Grammy back in 2010 and they’ve won seven out of their total eleven nominations — an incredible rate.
20. Reba McEntire: $7.4 Million
This country music icon has done it all. She’s a legend in country music with numerous albums, hit singles, and CMA Awards to her name. McEntire is also an active and talented actress with her most recent work as a Guest Judge on America’s Got Talent and as a voice actor in The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave.
19. Eric Church: $10.1 Million
Eric Church has been an under the radar for the better part of the last decade. He’s getting back into the swing of things right now with his latest hit single, Raise ‘Em Up, which featured Keith Urban. Church calls musicians like Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylen Jennings some of his strongest influences.
18. Miranda Lambert: $18 Million
Miranda Lambert dropped a Platinum record as her debut, Kerosene, before becoming a Billboard staple from 2004 to now. Lambert stays busy when she’s off the stage with an endorsement from Cotton Inc as well as her own line of shoes, released via DSW.
17. Brad Paisley: $18.5 Million
Brad Paisley will go down as a country music legend when he’s all said and done. He has three Grammy Awards, 14 CMA Awards, 12 million album sales, and even a best selling book to his name. Paisley also has a string of TV credits to his name.
16. Dolly Parton: $19 Million
If there’s one thing you need to know about Dolly Parton it is this: the woman knows how to market herself. Parton has released 41 hit albums and 110 singles while scoring eight Grammy Awards and two Academy Award nominations. Parton is an accomplished actress, writer, singer, and philanthropist.
15. Rascal Flatts: $19.5 Million
Love ’em or hate ’em, Rascal Flatts is one of the biggest names in country music. We’re honestly surprised to find the group so far down on our list. Some of their biggest hits include What Hurts the Most and Bless the Broken Road which both had major mainstream appeal.
14. Florida Georgia Line: $20 Million
These guys are probably our most controversial inclusion. Florida Georgia Line is considered ‘bro-country’ thanks to their poppy, electrical fueled, country anthems about partying. Hit song ‘Cruise’ won a Digital Diamond Award, crossing Platinum 10 times over its charting span.
13. Keith Urban: $22 Million
Keith Urban has multiple income streams to beef up his annual average. Urban is obviously a legend in the country music world but he reached major crossover appeal as a judge on both The Voice and American Idol. Along with his music and TV work Urban also has his own line of signature guitars which were sold through the Home Shopping Network. Keith Urban is married to actress Nicole Kidman.
12. Blake Shelton: $24 Million
Speaking of crossover appeal, has any star risen more in the past couple of years than Blake Shelton? Shelton became a fan favorite as a judge on The Voice to go right alongside his various hit records. Shelton was also married to fellow country superstar Miranda Lambert from 2011 to ’15.
11. George Strait: $26 Million
Father Time may wait for no man but George Strait isn’t asking him to. Strait is known as the King of Country thanks to his prolific career, which started way back in 1976. Strait holds the record for most #1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, beating out fellow legend Conway Twitty. Strait is single handedly responsible for ‘bringing back’ country music.
10. Carrie Underwood: $26 Million
Carrie Underwood launched into household name territory after winning American Idol back in 2005. Now she has 7 Grammy’s, 9 AMA’s, and 17 Billboard Honors. Underwood is active in philanthropy and has a ton of endorsements in her brand.
9. Shania Twain: $27.5 Million
No list about country music stars can be complete without Shania Twain. This Canadian songstress has sold an incredible 85+ million records throughout her career, surpassing everyone in the country music industry. She’s also the 10th best selling artist of all time.
8. Zac Brown Band: $30 Million
Now we’re in the real heavy hitters bracket. The Zac Brown Band has a huge history of sold out tours, best selling records, and award nominations. The group is also active with Zac Brown’s own charity: Camp Southern Ground.
7. Tim McGraw: $38 Million
Tim McGraw is married to one of the biggest singers in country music and he’s the son of a professional baseball player, so you know he’s a success. His high profile marriage with superstar Faith Hill also probably boosts his income.
6. Jason Aldean: $36 Million
Mr. Aldean is a Grammy nominated recording artist with riding high on his latest album, They Don’t Know. Aldean won the ACM Award’s title Entertainer of the Year in 2016, his first ever win in that category. Aldean’s 2010 record, My Kinda Party, has been certified as a triple platinum record by the RIAA.
5. Toby Keith: $47 Million
Toby Keith knows how to turn money into more money. He’s the proud owner of a string of restaurants, named I Love This Bar & Grill, as well as a credited screenwriter and movie star. Keith is a prolific musician but we’re sure those Ford commercials aren’t too shabby, either.
4. Luke Bryan: $53 Million
Bro-country is going to keep thriving as long as Nashville’s own Luke Bryan keeps churning out hit singles. Bryan is electric right now and he is one of the most listened to country music artists in the world. Bryan has also done numerous TV appearances over the past four or five years.
3. Kenny Chesney: $56 Million
Kenny Chesney either can’t stop or won’t stop making music and his fans definitely don’t mind. Chesney broke out again in a big way in 2014 with The Big Revival and know he is selling out stadium tours on the regular. Chesney is active with charity, working with both the V Foundation and Farm Aid.
2. Garth Brooks: $70 Million
A-ha! You probably thought Garth Brooks would be our number one musician, right? Well, the Oklahoma native certainly is close. Brooks made his great comeback in the music world in 2014 with the single People Loving People and the rest has been roses. Brooks is the best selling artist of the 20th century, a staunch supporter of civil rights, a former baseball player, and a media business guru.
1. Taylor Swift: $73.5 Million
Cue the hate mail. Leading off our list is country-pop sensation Taylor Swift. While Swift certainly isn’t a country ‘star’ anymore, she never will completely shake the traces of its stylings from her music. Swift reigns supreme as Queen of the Industry and she can seemingly do no wrong. Her latest album, 1989, smashed records and catapulted her career into a whole new tax bracket.
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