What makes an artist great? It takes talent, of course, and a genius for innovation. Also, having some sort of vision helps. But a truly great artist is distinguished by a unique ability to take his or her moment in time and distill its essence so that resulting work becomes timeless. Limited to dress and hairstyle, for example, the Mona Lisa is just a woman from the Renaissance. But her expression—subtle, ambiguous—has given her a mystique that will survive the ages. And so it goes, not only for her creator, Leonardo Da Vinci, but also for the other artists (many of them included in New York museums such as The MetMoMA and the Guggenheim) on our list of the most famous artists of all time.

There are many successful artists who do not write or compose their own music. We would, however, like to focus on famous artists who write and compose their own work, artists who are musicians in their true rights.

Andrew Lloyd Weber
Net Worth: $1.2 billion

From the West End and Broadway to Melbourne, passing through Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore on their way, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musicals have captured the imagination of a lot of people, young and old.

His Phantom of the Opera first opened in 1986 and is still staged to this day. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a composer and impresario of musical theatre.

He has composed 21 musicals so far. Quite a few of his songs in his popular musicals like Phantom, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, to name but a few have been successfully recorded outside of their musicals.

He has won six Tonys, three Grammys (as well as the Grammy Legend Award), an Academy Award, fourteen Ivor Novello Awards, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe, a Brit Award, the 2006 Kennedy Center Honors, the 2008 Classic Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and an Emmy Award. He is also one of only sixteen people to have won an EGOT, ie, an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award.

His company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals have really infiltrated the hearts and souls of all sections of society and I dare say there are very few people who could hum one of his songs.

As of 2021, he has built himself a personal fortune of a staggering $1.2 billion.

Net Worth: $590 million

Madonna is perhaps one of the most famous singers in the world, where hardly a soul doesn’t recognize her or know her songs. She’s been in the business since the 80s and has sold well over 30 million records worldwide.

Madonna is certified as the best-selling female music artist of all time by Guinness World Records. She is the most successful solo artist in the history of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and holds the record for the most number-one singles by a female artist in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. With revenues of U.S. $1.4 billion from her concert tickets, she remains the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time. While it mostly Patrick Leonard who would write Madonna’s music, Madonna herself would write the lyrics and the tunes or refine a tune she’d been given by Leonard.

As of 2021, this veteran but forever young singer and musician has an estimated net worth of $590 million.

Net Worth: $700 million

A modern-day hero amongst Irish folks and around the world, Bono is not just a songwriter musician, he’s also a well known philanthropist and activist for many causes, particularly causes for social justices.

Bono was the lead singer of the ever-popular band U2 and he has received 22 Grammy Awards and been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A prolific songwriter, Bono has been in the industry since 1976 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Bono hasn’t always been credited for the music he wrote for U2, even though he would be the one writing the musical score but the music would then be credited to U2.

Bono has been knighted by Elizabeth II for his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work.

As of 2021, Bono is estimated to have a net worth of $700 million.

Jay Z
Net Worth: $1 billion

Jay Z is one of the most successful hip-hop artists ever. He is not only a singer-songwriter, but he’s also an astute businessman with his own clothing and record label.

In total, he’s released over 14 studio albums, most of which he co-produced and wrote himself.

In total, he’s sold about 50 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. He has 22 Grammys under his belt and has been hailed by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. He was the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017.

In 2019, Jay Z became the first hip-hop billionaire, and as of 2021, his net worth is well over $1 billion. He is married to superstar Beyonce. Jay Z says he hasn’t written down a verse for over a decade and would compose the entire song in his head before stepping into the recording box.

Patrick Leonard
Net Worth: $20 million

Those who don’t know Patrick Leonard would know his songs well. Think Like a Prayer, Who’s That Girl. Yes, this is the man behind a lot of Madonna’s hits. As said while Madonna supplied the lyrics and tunes, Leonard is the guy who transformed the tunes into their full score and musical notations. He was the musical director and keyboardist on her The Virgin Tour in 1985 and the Who’s That Girl Tour in 1987.

Leonard has also collaborated with musical greats like Leonard Cohen, Elton John, and Pink Floyd. He has also supplied the scores for various films like At Close Range starring Sean Penn and for Nothing in Common starring Tom Hanks.

As of 2021, Patrick Leonard is worth an estimated $20 million.

Net Worth: $400 million

Sting has an interesting way of writing his music. He would write songs often with a mono cassette recorder with a built-in drum machine and he would play the guitar along with it when he stumbled upon a riff. He would later then write the music and lyrics for it at home with better equipment.

As a singer songwriter, Sting has received 17 Grammy Awards and Song of the Year award for Every Breath You Take, among numerous other awards and accolades. In 2018, he released 44/876, a collaboration with Shaggy, a Jamaican musician which won for them the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2019.

As of 2021, this musician is estimated to be worth $400 million.

Keith Richards
Net Worth: $340 million

Richards is the co-principal songwriter of the Rolling Stones and has been credited by Rolling Stone magazine with being the writer of “Rocks’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar, and was ranked by the magazine in 2011 as the 4th best guitarist out of 100 in the world.

Richards has said that he regarded the acoustic guitar as the basis for his playing and music. His music and influenced many musicians all over the world.

As of 2021, Keith Richards is said to have a personal fortune of some $340 million.

Mick Jagger
Net Worth: $360 million

The musical collaboration between Mick Jagger and Keith Richard is one of the most celebrated and successful of all bands. Of the musical instruments he plays, the harmonica is the one he plays best, even though he obviously plays the guitar as well, when compared with Keith Richards on stage, Jagger is shown not to be so accomplished a guitar player.

Still, reportedly Mick and his Rolling Stone members receive approximately $88 million per year from royalties alone. As of 2021, Mick Jagger is estimated to have a net worth of $360 million.

Paul McCartney
Net Worth: $1.2 billion

This was another successful partnership in writing music – Paul McCartney and John Lennon when they were with the Beatles.

McCartney is a self-taught musician and is proficient on bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums. He is known for his melodic approach to bass-playing (mainly playing with a plectrum), his versatile and wide tenor vocal range (spanning over four octaves), and his eclecticism (exploring styles ranging from pre-rock and roll pop to classical and electronica).

Together with Lennon, he composed most of the Beatles’ music starting with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band. After the Beatles disbanded, McCartney went on to have a successful solo career, composing much of his own music.

As of 2021, this legend is thought to be worth a staggering $1.2 billion.

Toby Keith
Net Worth: $360 million

A latecomer to the music industry, Toby Keith came onto the scene in the 90s.

Keith started to write his own music after getting a guitar and going to listen to the band play at his grandma’s bar. He attributed his musicality to a gift which is apparent.

He has, after all, released 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums, and five compilation albums; a total worldwide sales of over 40 million albums. He has charted 61 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including 20 number one hits and 21 additional top 10 hits. His longest-lasting number one hits are “Beer for My Horses” (a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson) and “As Good as I Once Was” (2005), at six weeks each.

As of 2021, Toby Keith is estimated to have a personal fortune of over $360 million. It was probably a good decision that he left football to be in music!

Herb Alpert
Net Worth: $870 million

Not many people may have heard of Herb Alpert. However, this musician and singer has had five No. 1 albums and 28 albums on the Billboard magazine album chart, fourteen platinum albums, fifteen gold albums, and nine Grammy Awards. He has sold 72 million records worldwide.

Alpert is the only musician to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as both a vocalist (“This Guy’s in Love with You”, 1968) and an instrumentalist (“Rise”, 1979). He has won nine Grammys and sold over 70 million records.

In his heydays, he led Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass in the 1960s. During the same decade, he co-founded A&M Records.

As of 2021, Herb who is 85 years old is estimated to have a net worth of $870 million.

Barry Manilow
Net Worth: $100 million

Barry Manilow is a prolific songwriter for himself and for other singers. In fact, before he became a star himself, he started by composing songs for other singers.

Manilow has written and performed songs for musicals, films, and commercials for corporations such as McDonald’s, Pepsi-Cola, and Band-Aid, from the 1960s. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award (and won once) as a producer, arranger and performer a total of fifteen times (and in every decade) from 1973 to 2015. He has also produced Grammy-nominated albums for Bette Midler, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, and Sarah Vaughan. Manilow has sold more than 85 million records as a solo artist worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists.

As of 2021, Barry Manilow is estimated to be worth well over $100 million.

Carole King
Net Worth: $70 million

With a musical written all about her – Beautiful – Carole King is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US. She has written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1962 and 2005.

King’s major success began in the 1960s when she and her first husband, Gerry Goffin, wrote more than two dozen chart hits, many of which have become classics for numerous artists. She has continued writing for other artists since then.

King’s success as a performer in her own right did not come until the 1970s, when she sang her own songs, accompanying herself on the piano, in a series of albums and concerts.

King scored her breakthrough with the album Tapestry, which topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971 and remained on the charts for more than six years.

Carole King is thought to be worth as of 2021 some $70 million.

Elton John
Net Worth: $500 million

Elton John is another massively successful singer who composes and produces his own songs. For his lyrics, he has collaborated with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967 on more than 30 albums, John has sold over 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Elton John has also written musicals, the most famous of which is Billy Elliot.

This musician does not require much introduction as he is recognized instantly worldwide, and as of 2021, he worth an estimated $500 million.

Lionel Richie
Net Worth: $200 million

Lionel Richie is best known as the King of ballads and has written numerous songs that have been number one hits from different single albums.

Over the course of his career, Richie has sold over 90 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

Richie also famously wrote the world charity hit We Are The World sung with Michael Jackson. Another famous singer Richie wrote songs for is Kenny Rogers.

As of 2021, this King of ballads is estimated to be worth about $200 million.