These Are The Richest Songwriters of All Time
Music brings people together, sets the mood, tells a story, and also can make folks a ton of money. Just ask Jay-Z or Paul McCartney, some of the wealthiest artists in the industry. While it isn’t easy to bring in as much money as the names mentioned here, the music industry can become lucrative if you work hard at it. Continue reading to learn about the wealthiest songwriters and how they amassed their fortunes.
Lady Gaga – $320 Million
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta or Lady Gaga might be one of the youngest acts on this list, but she brings in the money. The pop star has a knack for creating hit songs, so there’s not much surprise here.
She’s worked in the industry writing songs for Fergie, Britney Spears, the New Kids on the Block, and many more. After helping acts like that, she created a lane for herself. And with her debut album that featured the song “Poker Face,” she became an international sensation.
Mick Jagger – $500 Million
Mick Jagger’s career spans multiple decades. From his time as the frontman of The Rolling Stones to his solo artist days, he’s still playing well into his seventies! The best part is that he’s still selling out shows.
When he was younger, he attended the London School of Economics and contemplated a career as a journalist. Thankfully, he didn’t stick to that goal, and he dropped out in 1963. As a solo artist, Jagger has four albums.
Bruce Springsteen – $650 Million
Often referred to as “The Boss,” Bruce Springsteen led the E Street Band. The folksy brand of rock n’ roll produced popular songs like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Born to Run.” In total, he’s sold over 135 million records!
After getting his big break in 1975 performing with the E Street Band, he started appearing in magazines, touring all over, and making media appearances. “Born to Run” is the cut that shot him to fame thanks to the poetic political-themed lyrics.
Beyoncé – $500 Million
Beyoncé is arguably the most exceptional performer on Earth. Between her stage sets to her ability to sing the lights out, when doesn’t she command a crowd? That’s a trick question because she always does.
She came from humble beginnings, as her mother was a hairdresser and her dad was a Xerox sales manager in Houston. After leaving Destiny’s Child, her career took off to new heights and she married Jay-Z and had three kids. Her massive net worth is the result of all the work she’s put into the game.
Job Bon Jovi – $410 Million
Jon Bon Jovi is an internationally-recognized musician, famous for being the frontman of the Grammy-Award winning rock band Bon Jovi. He’s also been named one of the greatest songwriters of all time. In 2009, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The band Bon Jovi formed in 1983, and Bon Jovi’s wealth started growing. Today he’s worth an estimated $410 million and has proven to be a smart businessman, too. He’s the founder and former majority owner of the AFL team, the Philadelphia Soul. In 2006, he founded the Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit that works to end hunger and homelessness.
Celine Dion – $800 Million
Canadian singer Celine Dion came into the world’s view after she won the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. After learning to speak English, she signed a deal with Epic Records.
She soon began releasing hit songs like “The Power of Love,” “My Heart Will Go On,” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Dion found major success with her English records, but she continued to release songs in her native French language.
Toby Keith – $365 Million
Toby Keith is a well-known figure in the country music world, best known for his songs like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and “How Do You Like Me Now?!” Before forming his own label, he was associated with DreamWorks and Mercury Nashville.
Keith’s label Show Dog Nashville is one of the ways he brings in so much money. His song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” was one of the most played of the ’90s.
Elton John – $500 Million
The deeper we get into this list, the bigger the star is, and Elton John is no exception. His 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was a huge success and thrust John into popularity.
Fans still can’t get enough of that album and the classic songs it had. Not only has John recorded 30 studio albums, but he also worked on The Lion King soundtrack. The entertainer even sang at the funeral for the late Princess Diana.
Dolly Parton – $650 Million
Dolly Parton’s first taste of success came when she appeared on The Porter Wagoner Show. After that, she would sign with RCA Records, but it would take for her 1971 number-one single “Joshua” before the mainstream accepted her.
From 1974 to 1980, Parton consistently stayed on the Top 10 country charts. She soon made a lucrative transition from country to pop music, so that helped with her royalties. Parton’s first million-selling album was Here You Come Again.
Mariah Carey – $320 Million
Mariah Carey can hit high notes capable of breaking your mom’s fine China on Thanksgiving. Coming from humble beginnings, Carey became the best-selling artist of the ’90s, which led to her signing a record-breaking $100 million contract with Columbia in 2000.
Throughout her career, the singing sensation has sold around 200 million records! After once Carey’s demo got into the hands of Tommy Mottola, the head of Columbia, it was a done deal. She’s also inspired a generation of R&B singers.
Madonna – $850 Million
Madonna had goals to become a dancer after moving to New York City, but things change. While her freshman album had plenty of hit songs, it was her sophomore effort that boosted her into the spotlight.
She started doing world tours, writing books, directing films, and producing documentaries. Madonna does a lot, but that doesn’t mean she’s stretched thin. The only thing that’s expanding is her bank account because this rockstar is as well-paid as they come.
Rihanna – $1.7 Billion
From Barbados to becoming the wealthiest female musician, not even Rihanna would have predicted this outcome. The star shot to prominence after her song “Umbrella” charted number one and remained in that spot for ten weeks!
These days, she’s been releasing less music but diving into a few entrepreneurial opportunities. Her cosmetics brand and lingerie line have helped her become the richest woman in music.
Bono – $700 Million
The Irishman Bono is capable of many things — singing and songwriting only happen to be a portion of his abilities. Bono is also a businessman, Grammy winner, venture capitalist, and philanthropist.
He stepped into fame with his band U2, after forming in 1976. Their first taste of massive success came with the album Boy. Now, Bono is one of the most famous philanthropists out there. All that giving and he’s still earning more than many.
Dr. Dre – $500 Million
Dr. Dre already established himself as one of the top-five hip hop producers ever, but he’s also working to become the greatest executive as well. Early on, he founded Death Row Records and Aftermath.
Those two labels gave the world Eminem, 50 Cent, and everyone’s favorite dog, Snoop Dogg. The music legacy Dre has given the world is impeccable, but he’s also a savvy businessman. Maybe you’ve heard of Beats by Dre? They’re the headphones backed by the pure genius of Dre’s musically inclined mind.
P Diddy – $900 Million
Diddy is a one-man army. Those who’ve followed his career from Biggie to today know how hard he works to stay at the top. A month’s worth of work from Sean Combs equals a full year for the average person.
For a long time, Diddy ruled hip hop as the founder and leader of Bad Boy Records, the same label that gave us the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, and French Montana. Music isn’t his only business, as he’s the face of Ciroc vodka, which he helped catapult into much success. He also has his Sean John clothing line.
Justin Timberlake – $250 Million
The man who brought sexy back is in good company as a songwriter. After starting his career with the Mickey Mouse Club, he joined the boy band NSYNC and then went solo. His first album on his own gave us hits like “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body.”
Timberlake proved that he had more talent than just singing and performing– he’s a talented songwriter, too. In 2022, Timberlake sold the rights to his music catalog, containing around 200 songs. The deal is estimated to be worth $100 million.
Jay-Z – $1.3 Billion
Jay-Z has one of the most exciting stories around. From living in the Brooklyn projects to becoming a billionaire, his entire life makes Jay-Z so unique. The rapper, husband, father, and entrepreneur considers himself to be a business, not a businessman.
In 2004, he became the first rapper to act as president of Def Jam, and he did the honors of signing Rihanna and Kanye West to get the ball moving. Now, he has Roc Nation, a label that extends far beyond music as it’s now a sports agency as well.
Kris Kristofferson – $160 Million
Legendary singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson has penned some of the greatest hits of all time. The country artist is responsible for writing hits for other artists including “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”, “For the Good Times” and “Help Me Make It Through The Night”.
Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Country Music Association Awards.
Jimmy Buffett – $600 Million
Jimmy Buffett is something of a renaissance man. Not only is he deep into the music industry, but he also deals in real estate, film producing, acting, and business. The songwriter has multiple streams of revenue.
His concerts were extremely popular in the ’80s, so he made more money performing than from his albums. On the business side of things, Buffett capitalized on his “Margaritaville” success from ’77. He started a Margaritaville Cafe franchise and retail store in his hometown.
Paul McCartney – $1.2 Billion
When you’re one of the favorites of a band that ruled the world, there’s no doubt you’re going to be making tons of money. That’s Paul McCartney, The Beatles member who had a knack for writing great material.
Decades after being on top as part of a group, he’s still making waves as a solo act. It could be due to nostalgia, or rather, sheer talent, but fans love seeing McCartney live. He’s one of the few musician billionaires on Earth.
Andrew Lloyd Webber – $1.2 Billion
Do you know that there are only 15 EGOT winners (winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) in the world? Andrew Lloyd Webber is apart of that prestigious group, and he’s one of the wealthiest songwriters.
Webber earned his education at the Royal College of Music and would pursue his interests in musical theater. At 17, he started working with long-time partner Tim Rice. The two would go on to make some of the most beloved musicals ever.
Herb Alpert – $850 Million
Who says jazz musicians aren’t bringing in the dough? Herb Alpert is a music executive who’s also a jazz artist. He learned the trade from his parents at a young age growing up in Boyle Heights.
He would eventually go on and make a band and write songs for Sam Cooke. Alpert’s accomplishments run on and on. He has nine Grammys, 14 platinum albums, and 28 Billboard charting albums. His work ethic isn’t one to test.