While becoming a singer is the childhood dream of many people, very few people are fortunate enough to achieve it. Of course, there’s a lot more involved than a bit of luck to pursue an internationally successful and critically acclaimed singing career. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, dedication, risk and compromise on your part, to have one of the highest paying jobs in the world.
These 10 male singers are living proof of that if their bank account balances are anything to go by. Together, they earned $747.5 million (£564.9 million) in 2017. But who are they? And how much do they earn individually?
Join us as we take a look at the top 10 highest paid male singers in the world!
10. Calvin Harris
Earnings: $48.5 million (£36.6 million)
Born Adam Richard Wiles in Dumfries, Scotland, Harris is the top-paid DJ on the list. He released his debut studio album, I Created Disco, in June 2007, which was entirely written, produced and performed by himself. That same year, he would catch the attention of none other than Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue and co-write two songs for her album X: “Heart Beat Rock” and the top 10 single “In My Arms”.
Today, his CV features songwriting and production credits for some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mary J Blige, Chris Brown, Cheryl Cole, Example, Rita Ora, Pitbull, Dizzee Rascal, Rihanna, the Scissor Sisters and the Ting Tings.
9. Jimmy Buffett
Earnings: $50.5 million (£38.1 million)
Hailing from Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett started his career in the 1960s and released his first album Down to Earth in 1970. He became known for his distinct, self-described ‘gulf and western’ style, and went on to record hits like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, both of which lent their names to two restaurant chains he owns.
Buffett made a brief cameo in the 2015 blockbuster film Jurassic World, portraying an escaping tourist holding two margaritas during the pterosaur attack on the park. (A Margaritaville restaurant also makes an appearance in the movie, and is later destroyed during the T-Rex and Indominus fight scene.)
8. Paul McCartney
Earnings: $54 million (£40.7 million)
One-fourth of the Beatles (only the best-selling musical act in history with reported album sales exceeding 600 million units worldwide), Sir Paul McCartney launched his solo career following the band’s breakup in 1970 and would go on to form the band Wings with his first wife Linda and Denny Laine. Although they had five Top 5 albums and a Number One single with “Mull of Kintyre”, they were never able to replicate the success of Beatlemania.
Although he ended up paying his second wife Heather Mills £24.3 million when their divorce was finalised in 2008, he is still one of the richest musicians in the world with sold-out concert tours and royalties from the Beatles back catalogue accounting for a large bulk of his wealth. At the age of 74, he is the oldest artist to appear on this list.
7. Elton John
Earnings: $60 million (£45.3 million)
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex, Sir Elton Hercules John has sold more than 300 million albums around the world over the course of his five-decade career – making him one of the best-selling music artists in history (he comes fifth behind the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna).
John is one of the many acts to follow Céline Dion to Las Vegas with two residency shows (his current show, The Million Dollar Piano, premiered in September 2011 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and will run until 2018). His Vegas shows are his biggest source of income, while his soundtrack and theatre scoring contributions also rake in a bit of money (he’s currently composing the score for the Devil Wears Prada musical).
6. Garth Brooks
Earnings: $60 million (£45.3 million)
Tied in earnings with Elton John and better known as the King of Country (a nickname shared with Roy Acuff, George Strait and Bob Willis), Brooks started his career singing and playing the guitar at local clubs and bars in his native Oklahoma in the 1980s. His breakthrough came in 1989 upon the release of his first record, simply named Garth Brooks, which peaked at No 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and reached No 13 on the Billboard 200.
Brooks is the only artist to have seven albums achieve diamond status in the US. Moreover, he is the second highest-certified music artist in the States with 148 million units in sales (behind the Beatles’ 178 million units).
5. Bruce Springsteen
Earnings: $75 million (£56.6 million)
Springsteen is regarded one of the most influential and coolest men in music. Nicknamed ‘The Boss’, he is best known for his distinctive voice, poetic lyrics and energetic stage performances (with concerts often running up to four hours in length).
Over the course of an Academy and Grammy Award-winning career spanning five decades, Springsteen has established himself as a household name in the industry with hits like “Born in the USA” and “Dancing in the Dark” in 1984. More recently, his memoir Born to Run has become a New York Times best-seller and reportedly received a $10 million (£7.5 million) advance.
4. Justin Bieber
Earnings: $83.5 million (£63 million)
Love him or hate him, the Bieb has come a long way and deserves the success he’s achieved since he was first discovered on YouTube by talent manager Scooter Braun almost 10 years ago. As Bieber Fever took the world by storm, he released his debut studio album My World 2.0 in 2010 which produced the hit singles “Baby” and “Eenie Minie”.
A few years, some tattoos and a much-needed haircut later, the Canadian crooner went from ‘baby’ to bad boy – with a couple of run-ins with the law and a number of controversies (along with his Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2016) safely tucked under his belt.
3. The Weeknd
Earnings: $92 million (£69.4 million)
Toronto-born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known by his stage name the Weeknd (misspelled to avoid trademark issues with Canadian pop-rock band The Weekend), came to the world’s attention when, in 2010, he uploaded the songs “What You Need”, “Loft Music” and “The Morning” to YouTube which were noticed by fellow musician Drake.
He self-released his debut mixtape a year later, while his debut studio album (Kiss Land) followed in 2013. In the past two years, he’s clocked a whopping 5.5 billion streaming spins.
Earnings: $94 million (£70.9 million)
Drake is perhaps best known for a series of hit singles including “Take Care”, “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance”, having begun his career in 2010 with the release of Thank Me Later. He went on to earn 3 Grammy Awards from 27 nominations, and he’s also part-owner of OVO Sound, a record label founded with Oliver El-Khatib and long-time collaborator Noah ‘40’ Shebib.
In addition to sell-out performances and record-selling albums, Drake also makes money from his own collection of Air Jordans (dubbed Air Jordan OVOs), as well as his partnerships with Apple Music and Sprite.
1. Sean Combs
Earnings: $130 million (£98.1 million)
Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Diddy… Whatever name he goes by these days, he’s the richest singer in the world of the year. He started as an intern at Uptown Records and would go on to help develop talent like Mary J Blige and Jodeci. In 1997, his first album No Way Out was released to critical and commercial acclaim. The album debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 and went on to earn five Grammy nominations.
20 years later, Combs has his own successful clothing line (Sean John), a major equity stake in Revolt TV and 50% shares in the Cîroc vodka brand, all of which contribute to his pay packet.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Perhaps, like me, you’re a little envious of Sean Combs’ bank account balance (and everyone else’s on this list)? Join the conversation down below and let me know what you think!
The figures contained in this article are based on data compiled and published by Forbes in their annual list of the world’s highest paid celebrities. This list was edited to feature male solo musicians only – bands and other collaborations have been excluded. US dollar – Pound sterling conversions are based on rates from XE.com on 2 August 2017.
This article was originally published in July 2015.