A good number of people, especially those in the entertainment business have this dream of making that big hit they can cling on to, to remain financially secured for the rest of their lives.
It happens differently in different career paths. Computer geeks dream of creating that one million dollar app. While for musicians, it’s that one hit album or producing that award-winning movie that will make massive sales, for movie stars. Business men and women are usually in search of that one monster contract, that will launch them into everlasting splendor, but it usually doesn’t happen that way.
Asides from the fact that not everyone experiences that big hit, not all those who have had that stroke of luck to produce that massive hit, have been able to transform it into an eternal source of income. Perhaps, it’s a bad contract that gives royalties to everyone else, bad financial decisions, drugs, alcohol, gambling, you just name it.
We will consider a list of 10 American musicians who have been able to maximise that one-hit and transform it into a lifelong source of income. In compiling this list, we considered those with a single billboard top 20 hit in the United States.
Here we go, counting down from 10.
- Taylor Hicks – Net Worth: $3.3
Going by the exploits of Taylor Hicks, he is a living proof that winning on American Idol can make you rich, even if you have had only one hit. The Season 5 American Idol winner made it to number one on the billboard charts with his first single Do I Make You Proud (2006). The single lasted 5 weeks on the chart. His first album sold a little over 500000 copies. He did make 5 more albums, but none of them were commercially successful.
So where did he make his money? In 2006 he appeared on the American Idols tour where he received $750,000 to write his memoirs. His best year in earnings was in 2013 where he reportedly pulled in $2.5 million, half of which came from his Vegas shows in the 200 seat room at Paris Las Vegas. His net worth makes him the seventh richest idol winner. He is the first Idol Winner to move to Las Vegas. He’s also an entrepreneur who owns a handful of rental properties, he is part owner of Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham, Alabama, and he owns his own indie record label, where his albums have sold around 50000 copies.
- Bobby McFerrin – Net Worth: $4
Another artist who hit it big when his hit Don’t Worry Be Happy made it to the top of the charts in 1988, at the age of 38, is Bobby McFerrin. He has amazingly won 10 Grammy awards: three for his hit, five of them were prior to that, though he was already an accomplished jazz musician before Don’t Worry.
Where did he make his money? A lifetime of performances and recordings. Although, the exact amounts from each are hard to come by. He became chair of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1994, touring for orchestras throughout North America. He has two famous theme songs (The Cosby Show (Season 4) and Son of The Pink Panther (1993)) to his credit as well.
- Sir-Mix A-Lot – Net Worth: $6 Million
A typical one-hit wonder. Sir-Mix-A-Lot was already entrenched in the Hip Hop world before his mega tribute to women with large buttocks, Baby Got Back propelled him to the top of the charts in 1992. Though the song was initially banned by MTV.
Where he made his money. He created his own record label, promoted his music himself, produced all his own tracks and managed to create a platinum record before he got famous. He then signed to a major record label and released his signature single which sold over 2 million copies. It seems he is one of the few on this list who actually made his money directly from the music that made him famous. It’s probable that because of his previous success he was actually able to sign a contract that let him keep a fair chunk of the money he generated.
- Sinead O’Connor – Net Worth: $6 Million
This is another person who was already successful prior to her one billboard hit; Nothing Compares 2 U. This song hit #1 on the billboard charts in 1990. Known as much for her shaved head, shapeless clothing and political views, Sinead O’Connor already made it big with critics and college charts with her debut album, The Lion and The Cobra (1987). She made it big without playing into the general stereotypes of what a female musician should be. She has released 10 albums, but none have reached the success of her first two.
- Vicki Lawrence – Net Worth: $8 Million
Some people might be wondering how someone from the 70s made this list. But, we sure have heard her one billboard hit, The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia (1973). She was definitely more famous for her work on TV, starring for 12 years in The Carol Burnett Show and 7 years in the 80s reprising one of her roles in this show on Mama’s Family. She made most of her money as a comedian, and as an actress, all the way up to a few years ago when she played “Mamaw” on Hannah Montana. Probably the only comic ever who could sing successfully as well.
- Everlast – Net Worth: $15 Million
House of Pain was officially a one hit wonder. Better known as the lead singer for House Of Pain, their big hit Jump Around (1992) hit #3 on the billboard charts and was a hit in every dance club. His net worth isn’t bad for someone with only two platinum selling albums to his credit.
- Beck Hansen – Net Worth: $16 Million
Can we say Beck is a one-hit wonder? There was a time when his songs could be found everywhere. Officially he is, as his only billboard hit, Loser, which reached #10 in 1994. Beck has released 30 albums over his career. Each one adding a little to his wealth, through his loyal fan base. When Loser came out some critics thought that he would be the voice of a generation with his fusion of every possible type of music imaginable, while others thought that he was a flash in the pan. Beck has made such a name for himself that he won a Grammy this year with the worst selling Grammy winning album since 2008.
- Linda Perry – Net Worth: $18 Million (2012)
Linda Perry makes this list as the lead singer of 90’s female alternative band 4 non-blondes. Their only Billboard hit, What’s Up made it to #14 in 1993. But this is definitely not where she made her money. Eight years later in 2001, she found her calling when Pink (seeking a songwriter and producer) called her up. Throughout this decade, Linda produced albums or wrote songs for a wide list of popular artists, such as Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Faith Hill, Enrique Iglesias and Kelly Osbourne. The list of artists she helped goes on and on, thus helping her earn her millions.
- Billy Ray Cyrus – Net Worth: $20 Million
Better known today as the father of megastar Miley Cyrus, back in the day he could hold his own as one of the two main Country Music stars in the early 90’s that succeeded in the popular music charts. The other being Garth Brooks. Billy Ray released over 30 albums in his career, but everyone remembers him for Achy Breaky Heart, which made it to number #4 in 1992. He’s cracked the billboard charts 5 more times since then but has never made it past the top 40, let alone the top 20. Nevertheless, many of his albums were decent sellers. He lost a fair amount of credibility in the Country Music world who felt he had too much rock ‘n roll in him, but apparently enough fans stuck around, helping him make millions.
- Psy – Net Worth: $25 Million
You want to make it big off one song, then make sure a billion people watch your video on YouTube. Though only one person has achieved this feat so far. Ironically it wasn’t even his breakout song Gangnam Style (2012) that made it to the top of the Billboard charts. That song peaked at #64. The song that puts him on this list is Gentleman, released a few months later, topping out at #5. Psy, a South Korean Native, educated at Boston University, became a hit in his native country in 2001, with the album Psy From the PSYcho World. But it was banned by the Korean government who restricted album sales to adults. His next 4 albums gained industry awards and commercial success in his native land.