Most musicians will say they got into the business for the love of their craft, but eternal wealth no doubt comes near the top of the list, too. From ’60s rock gods to ’00s pop divas, here are 20 money-spinning stars who have conquered both the charts and the rich list.
20. Lady Gaga ($280 million)
She’s the only woman on the list, and Lady Gaga’s appearance is all the more remarkable given that she only broke through in 2008. Since then, she’s conquered the worlds of pop, TV and fashion with a Golden Globe-winning American Horror Story performance, a “reverse Warholian expedition” of a third album and her infamous meat dress.
19. Sting ($300 million)
Formerly the frontman of The Police, Sting has amassed a $300 million fortune thanks to an equally successful solo career which has encompassed everything from worldbeat to musical theater. However, due to his spending habits, the star has admitted that his six children shouldn’t expect to receive a penny.
18. Bruce Springsteen ($300 million)
Bruce Springsteen may be famous for singing about the hardships of American working class life, but he certainly doesn’t have any money worries himself. The Boss has been enthralling audiences with his anthemic brand of heartland rock since the mid-’70s and has remained a hugely popular live draw ever since.
17. Gene Simmons ($300 million)
Few have capitalized on their star power more than Kiss’ Gene Simmons. The famously big-tongued star has accrued $300 million from his band’s stadium-friendly glam metal and the incredibly diverse array of merchandise that bears their fiery logo – most notably the coffin known as the Kiss Kasket.
16. Prince ($300 million)
Considering the fact that he seems to release a new album more often than most artists change their underwear, it’s unsurprising to see musical genius Prince here. A relentless touring schedule – the Purple One regularly performs several shows in a day – has also helped boost his riches.
15. Jon Bon Jovi ($300 million)
Jon Bon Jovi is the second New Jersey native on this list, but he and Springsteen have little in common. An investment in AFL team Philadelphia Soul has played its part, but it’s primarily JBJ’s golden locks, movie star looks and numerous pop rock anthems that have helped him accrue $300 million.
14. L.A. Reid ($300 million)
Name any R&B artist from the ’90s and ’00s, and L.A. Reid is likely to have worked with them. Boyz II Men, TLC, Mariah Carey, Pink, Usher, Rihanna and, more bizarrely, Avril Lavigne are just some of the star names who have benefited from the music executive, producer and songwriter’s golden touch. Meanwhile, it’s clearly had the desired impact on his bank balance.
13. Keith Richards ($340 million)
If you thought Keith Richards might have blown all his money on booze and drugs then think again. Thanks to constant bouts of touring, plus the odd unexpected appearance in a certain Disney franchise, the Rolling Stone with the most dedicated rock‘n’roll lifestyle still has plenty left over for a rainy day.
12. Ringo Starr ($350 million)
Ringo Starr’s less bankable solo career means he’s lagging far behind the only other surviving Beatle in terms of wealth. But with a whopping $350 million to his name, the legendary drummer and, of course, ex-Thomas the Tank Engine narrator isn’t likely to be asking Macca for a handout any time soon.
11. Master P ($350 million)
Master P may not be as dominant in the charts as he once was. However, thanks to a shrewd business sense, the founder of No Limit Records, Better Black Television and P. Miller Enterprises is still earning more in a day than most of today’s MCs pocket in a year.
10. Mick Jagger ($360 million)
The rubber-lipped Rolling Stones frontman has acquired a fortune $20 million greater than that of his more weathered-looking bandmate. Perhaps Mick Jagger’s early studies at the London School of Economics gave him a leg-up on how to best save the earnings that have rolled in from the group’s record-breaking stadium tours.
9. Coldplay ($475 million)
Disputes over royalties have caused the acrimonious breakup of many a band, but thanks to the generosity of their frontman, you won’t see Coldplay battling it out in court. Despite penning the majority of their output alone, Chris Martin agreed to share all of the band’s earnings equally with his bandmates.
8. Elton John ($480 million)
Elton John is another showman proving that life on the road doesn’t have to end once you become a senior citizen. With the Rocket Man having admitted to once spending nearly $500,000 on flowers in a two-year period, it’s perhaps wise that he continues to play to packed out stadiums.
7. Emilio Estefan ($500 million)
You may be surprised to see Emilio Estefan, rather than his wife Gloria, making the cut here. But as well as founding ’80s party starters Miami Sound Machine, the Cuban has also made a fortune building a diverse portfolio of businesses, launching the Latin Grammys and owning a stake in the Miami Dolphins.
6. Jay Z ($550 million)
It’s certainly no longer a “Hard Knock Life” for Jay Z. The rapper has gone from rags to riches thanks to his slick lyrical flow and an entrepreneurial spirit which has seen him found Roc Nation, invest in the Brooklyn Nets and acquire the tech company behind Tidal.
5. Dr. Dre ($700 million)
Dr. Dre only has three solo studio albums to his name, with 2015’s Compton having arrived 16 years after his last release. But his quality over quantity approach to rap has allowed him to focus his efforts elsewhere, namely as the CEO of record label Aftermath Entertainment and headphone giants Beats Electronics, the latter of which Apple purchased for a reported $3.2 billion in 2014.
4. Sean Combs ($750 million)
However, the title of wealthiest rapper goes to the man of many names, Sean Combs. Alongside his several sample-heavy ’90s hits, the artist formerly known as P Diddy has a clothing line, production company and a chain of restaurants to thank for his fortune. It’s all about the Benjamins indeed!
3. Herb Alpert ($850 million)
Who says blowing your own trumpet doesn’t pay? Herb Alpert may have claimed he knows next to nothing about business, but that hasn’t stopped him racking up a near $1 billion fortune, largely thanks to the $500 million he and partner Jerry Moss received from Polygram for their A&M label in 1987.
2. Andrew Lloyd Webber ($1.2 billion)
Think of any Broadway musical from the past 40 years and there’s a good chance Andrew Lloyd Webber has had a hand in it. The pianist and composer has brought everything from Evita and Cats to Jesus Christ Superstar to life, while his Really Useful Group company remains one of London’s largest theater operators.
1. Paul McCartney ($1.2 billion)
Given that he’s the surviving half of the most successful songwriting partnership in history, it’s not surprising to see Paul McCartney top pop’s rich list. The ex-Beatle also made millions with his stint in Wings and a solo career which has spawned almost as many Top 10 albums as the Fab Four have.