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