Their Musical Talents Have Made These Pop Singers the Richest in the World

By Jake Schroeder
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Many pop singers can make a living with their music, but only a select few have the talent and drive to become mega-successful in the competitive world of the entertainment industry. What is it about this handful of superstars that allows them to stand out from the thousands of others in the music business? Find out who they are, where they started, what they’ve accomplished and how much money they've made. Then, see if your favorite is one of them.

Justin Timberlake

Beginning his career as a member of the All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993, Timberlake worked with future stars Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears as a kid. He moved on to join boy band NSYNC in 1995, sharing lead-singing duties with JC Chasez and helping to sell 70 million records.

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Since going solo in 2002, Timberlake has won Grammy awards, acted in several films and performed at the Super Bowl halftime show and the White House. With a net worth of $250 million, his income has been in sync with all the hard work he’s done.

Beyonce

Queen Bey has come a long way from her childhood beginnings in Houston, Texas. Once a member of Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling female groups of all time, she’s now one of the biggest-selling solo artists of all time. She’s sold over 100 million records worldwide.

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Beyonce has also come a long way in her personal life. She married husband Jay-Z in 2008 and has since given birth to daughter Blue Ivy and twins Rumi and Sir. Along the way, her talent helped her amass a net worth of $500 million. Just call it a queen’s ransom!

Lady Gaga

Her songwriting talent accounts for much of her $320 million fortune. She’s written songs for artists like The Pussycat Dolls, New Kids on the Block and Britney Spears. She’s also had ample hits of her own, including "Poker Face," "Bad Romance" and "Born This Way."

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Stefanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, has also proven herself to be a talented actress. She appeared in two seasons of the TV show American Horror Story and starred in the film A Star Is Born. Also active in fashion design, philanthropy and activism, Gaga is one busy Lady.

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Julio Iglesias

Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1943, Julio Iglesias tried out professional football and got a law degree before turning to music. While in the hospital following a serious auto accident, a nurse gave him a guitar — and one of the most successful pop artists in history was born.

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Iglesias has recorded songs in 14 different languages and performed before more than 60 million people during his career. He has sold over 300 million records, and his net worth is over $300 million. Oh, and he also gave the world two more pop stars in sons Julio Iglesias Jr. and Enrique Iglesias!

Rihanna

With a net worth of $600 million, Rihanna (born Robyn Rihanna Fenty) is one of the richest female singers in the music world. She’s the highest-ranking musician on Forbes’ list of "America’s Richest Self-Made Women," ahead of singers Madonna and Celine Dion.

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In addition to her singing and songwriting, Rihanna has a makeup line called Fenty Beauty and a fashion house also called Fenty. In 2012 she founded the non-profit Clara Lionel Foundation, which helps provide healthcare and education programs around the world. She’s one entertainer who believes in giving back to the community.

Cher

Cherilyn Sarkisian got her start in pop music as one half of the husband-and-wife duo Sonny & Cher in 1965. She also quickly established a solo career with pop hits like "Dark Lady" and "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves." Since then, Cher has amassed a net worth of $360 million.

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Photo Courtesy: David Carroll/Flickr

She’s also a very talented actress, having starred in films like Silkwood and Mask, and winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in Moonstruck. Decades later, she’s still going strong with concert and film appearances. She doesn't believe in retirement.

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Sting

As lead singer for The Police and as a solo recording artist, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (or, you know, Sting) has sold over 100 million records. He’s also won some of the most prestigious awards in the music industry along the way. "Every Breath You Take" received a Grammy for Song of the Year and a BMI award for the most played song in radio history.

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Then there are the personal awards. He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2014 and was named a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). All this demonstrates why he has a personal fortune of $400 million.

Celine Dion

Born in Canada, Celine Dion had her first musical success with records in her native language, French. After learning English, she was signed with Epic Records. Her first English album, Unison, was released in 1990. It included the single "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," which became her first top-10 hit in the U.S.

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In 1994 Dion married her long-time manager Rene Angelil, who had once mortgaged his house in order to fund her first single. She is regarded as one of the best and most influential voices in pop music and has a net worth of $800 million.

Michael Jackson

Known as the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson was one of the most widely recognized and influential singers in the world. He began singing with his brothers as The Jackson Five, going on to have one of the most successful and lucrative careers in the history of pop music.

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Songs like "Beat It" and "Thriller" are instantly recognizable. His music videos in the 1980s contributed to making MTV a force in the music world — and to helping break down racial barriers. At the time of his death in 2009, his net worth was estimated at $500 million.

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Jimmy Buffett

His music embraces escaping the rat race and relaxing in tropical environments. Jimmy Buffett has turned that attitude into a lifestyle — and a $600 million fortune that includes books, beer, restaurants, real estate and his own music label, Margaritaville Records.

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Buffett started out as a country singer in the late 1960s. After visiting Key West, Florida, in 1971, he moved there and began his laid-back style of songwriting. The late singer Jim Croce was one of his mentors, and Buffett was signed to the ABC/Dunhill Records label to fill Croce’s space following his death in 1973. Buffett’s loyal fans are known as "Parrotheads."

Mariah Carey

She has a five-octave vocal range, including the whistle register, the highest register of the human voice. Mariah Carey is the first artist ever to have her first five singles all reach number one on the charts. These and many other achievements have helped her earn a fortune worth over $300 million.

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Carey’s mom was an opera singer and vocal coach who helped her daughter train her voice. Carey began writing songs in high school, setting her poems to music. Working as a waitress to pay the rent while pursuing her singing career, Carey once got fired from a job within her first two weeks. She’s come a long way.

Jennifer Lopez

"Jenny from the Block" does it all — singing, dancing, acting, producing and designing. She also excels at all of it, as her personal net worth of $400 million can attest. In 2012, Forbes named her the most powerful celebrity in the world and the 38th most powerful woman in the world.

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J.Lo received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the biographical film Selena. Her other films include The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Monster-in-Law. In addition to performing, Lopez is a businesswoman with a line of perfumes and a clothing line, The Jennifer Lopez Collection.

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Bono

Bono (a.k.a. Paul David Hewson) is the lead singer of legendary Irish band U2. He has won 22 Grammys and sold over 100 million records with the band and solo. U2 formed when member Larry Mullen Jr. posted an ad on a bulletin board to form a band. Bono, Dik and Adam Clayton and David (The Edge) Evans all answered the ad..

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With an estimated net worth of $700 million, Bono enjoys donating money as well as making it. He has founded or co-founded four charitable organizations in support of humanitarian causes in Africa.

Sean Combs

Whether you call him Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Puffy or Diddy, there’s no doubt that Sean Combs has talent. His personal fortune, estimated at $850 million, is something he’s earned as a singer, producer, actor, record executive and entrepreneur. He started his music career as an intern at Uptown Records.

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Combs created his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, in 1993. He’s worked with a wide variety of artists, including Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Combs had already been a record executive for several years before starting to record his own songs and albums.

Katy Perry

As a teenager, Katy Perry first pursued a career in gospel music. She recorded a gospel album before moving on to secular music with Capital Records in 2007. "Hot N Cold" and "I Kissed a Girl" were her first charting singles but definitely not her last, as the album One of the Boys showed by producing five number-one singles alone.

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The documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me was released in 2012. Perry provided the voice of Smurfette in The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2, and she was briefly married to comedian and actor Russell Brand. Her net worth is $330 million.

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Ringo Starr

Along with being the Beatles’ drummer, Starr was a member of Liverpool group Rory and the Hurricanes. A fan of skiffle music in his teenage years, he co-founded his first group, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. He's toured with 13 different versions of his All-Starr Band, too.

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As a solo artist Ringo’s hits have included the songs "Photograph," "You’re Sixteen," "It Don’t Come Easy" and others. He played Mr. Conductor in the first season of the children’s television show Shining Time Station and appeared in several films. His net worth of $350 million makes him the world's richest drummer.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross’ former group, The Supremes, is one of the best-selling female groups of all time. Their hits included "Baby Love," "Come See About Me" and "Stop in the Name of Love." As an actress, Ross appeared in the films The Wiz, Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

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Tracee Ellis Ross, who stars in the TV series Black-ish, is Ross’ daughter. Ross once dated Gene Simmons of KISS and was a good friend of Michael Jackson, having met him through Motown Records. Her net worth is estimated at $250 million.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, where she sang in the chorus with fellow student Neil Diamond, but she pursued an acting career before her singing really took off. During an audition, a casting director encouraged her to include her singing talent on her resume. Her first professional singing gig was at a nightclub for $125 a week. Her net worth is $400 million.

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Streisand’s first husband was actor Elliott Gould, and she’s now married to actor James Brolin. In 1969, she joined fellow actors Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen in forming First Artists Production Company to produce their own projects.

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Taylor Swift

At 14 years old, Taylor Swift became the youngest artist ever signed by Sony/ATV Music. She began her career in country music, crossing over to pop when her second album, Fearless, topped both the country and pop charts. Her current net worth is an estimated $400 million.

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Her musical influences include Shania Twain, Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson. She’s the youngest person to write and sing a number-one song on Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Songs chart. Swift has sold more than 50 million albums and 150 million single downloads.

John Lennon

Lennon formed the band The Quarrymen in 1957, which eventually evolved into the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney is one of the most successful of the 20th century. Following the Beatles’ breakup, John formed The Plastic Ono Band with his wife, Yoko Ono.

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John received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) along with fellow Beatles McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. He was murdered outside his New York apartment in December of 1980, and his final album, Double Fantasy, had been released just three weeks earlier. John’s estimated net worth at his death was $800 million.

Madonna

Madonna Louise Ciccone is known for reinventing herself. She was a member of the band Breakfast Club and then signed with Sire Records as a solo artist in 1982. With worldwide record sales of over 300 million, Madonna was named the best-selling female recording artist of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records. Her net worth is about $600 million.

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Madonna first aspired to be a dancer and won a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. She’s also an author whose first children’s book, The English Roses, debuted at number one on the New York Times Best-Seller list.

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Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart was a member of bands Faces, The Jeff Beck Group and Long John Baldry and the All Stars before going solo. He’s had 16 top-10 singles in the U.S. with four number ones, including "Maggie May" and "Tonight’s the Night."

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Stewart has released four volumes of The Great American Songbook, which feature him performing classic songs, and he has recorded duets with artists like Elton John and Dolly Parton. Rod Stewart was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. His net worth stands at $250 million.

Nana Mouskouri

Although not known well in the U.S., Greek singer Nana Mouskouri is one of the best-selling singers of all time. She has recorded many types of music, including pop, folk, Latin and gospel in 12 different languages. Her albums have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, giving her a net worth of $280 million.

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Mouskouri was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1993 and served with UN missions in Bosnia, Belgium and Sweden, where she performed fundraising concerts. She was a member of European Parliament from 1994 to 1999. Now in her eighties, she lives with her husband in Switzerland.

Elton John

The "Rocket Man" is one of the best-known singers and songwriters in pop and rock history, and he has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide. He’s partnered in songwriting with Bernie Taupin since 1967 on over 30 albums and 50 top-40 hits. His net worth is estimated at $500 million.

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Sir Elton has written music for films like The Lion King and stage musicals Aida and Billy Elliot: The Musical. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 and has performed several times for the British royal family.

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Kenny Rogers

Although best known as a country singer, Kenny Rogers’ first musical success was with The New Christy Minstrels. With his group The First Edition, he had hits on both the pop and country charts with songs including "Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town" and "But You Know I Love You."

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In his career as a country artist, several of his albums and singles placed high on the pop charts. He had several top songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, including two number ones. Rogers has sold over 100 million records and has a net worth of $250 million.

Bruce Springsteen

"The Boss" has a five-decade-long musical career that earned him a net worth of $500 million. Born and raised in New Jersey, his songs are known for chronicling the working-class experience and dreams. He has sold more than 64 million records in the U.S. and 135 million worldwide.

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Springsteen’s numerous awards include two Golden Globes, a Tony, an Academy Award and 20 Grammys. He has been inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 and is active in charity work.

Jon Bon Jovi

Like fellow musician Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi was born and raised in New Jersey. He’s released two solo albums and 14 albums with his Bon Jovi bandmates and has sold more than 130 million records worldwide. His net worth is more than $400 million.

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In 2006 he founded The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to address the issues of hunger and homelessness in the U.S. In 2009 he sang a duet with Bettye LaVette at the inauguration concert for President Barack Obama, who chose him to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions.

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Billy Joel

The "Piano Man" released his first album, Cold Spring Harbor, in 1971 and has sold over 150 million records worldwide since then. His breakthrough album, The Stranger, was released in 1977 and sold more than 10 million copies. It included hit singles "Just the Way You Are" and "Only the Good Die Young."

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Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits, three of them number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. In 2008 he performed the last concert held at Shea Stadium. His guests there included Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler and Paul McCartney. Joel’s net worth is over $250 million.

Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson wrote his very first song,"Funk Machine," at seven years old, and there was no holding him back afterward. Over the course of his life and career, the "Purple One" released 39 studio albums, four live albums, nine compilation albums and 17 video albums.

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Prince opened his Paisley Park Studios building complex in Minnesota in 1987. It housed his label, Paisley Park Records, along with his personal home. He died there in 2016. Paisley Park was opened as a museum shortly afterward. Prince’s net worth at the time of his death was an estimated $300 million.

Paul McCartney

With a personal fortune estimated at $1.2 billion, Sir Paul McCartney easily tops the list of richest entertainers. His songwriting portfolio, alone and in collaboration with John Lennon and others, contributed greatly to his fortune. Since the breakup of the Beatles in 1970, he has continued writing, recording and touring.

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The man known as "The Cute One" in the Beatles’ heyday is one of the most widely respected singers, songwriters and musicians in the world. He has won 18 Grammys and received knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music."

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