Top Earning Celebrities of 2013: Musicians, Actors, Writers, Models And More…

If you’re to work as a celebrity, which line of work would you prefer? Singing, acting, directing, sports, or movie producing? Well, if pay is important, you should stick to music. It turns out that, at least this year, the top dogs of music trumped actors, directors and other highly paid entertainers in annual earnings. The King of Pop and the Material Girl both topped the list of biggest celebrity earners in 2013. Not even Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man or Tiger Woods’ winning swing can beat the singers’ money power.

Instead of listing the highest paid celebrities by category— has all these various lists out already—we put them all in one list to see which type of celebrity work earns the most bucks. So here they are: a famed director, a best-selling author, two tv personalities, a sports legend, a model and a producer, their gross income plucked out from various “highest paid” lists across the wide spectrum of the entertainment industry.


Concerts and recordings bring in the most bucks for the singer, but the real money power lies in their license. Their hits will outlive them.

Top music talent: Michael Jackson – $160 million


He died four years ago but Michael Jackson is still earning every year and not only that, he even topped the list this year!Much of the dollars came from the Cirque du Soleil’s The Immortal world tour and a major share from the music catalog of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which includes the royalties and licensing of hits by The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Eminem, and Taylor Swift, on top of the King of Pop’s own hits and brand license.

Incidentally, the Material Girl trailed her eighties contemporary with an equally impressive record earnings of $125 million brought in by her successful MDNA world tour across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Both singers proved that music recording is a more sustainable investment than any other entertainment service.


Film directing is a tough job, but if the director plays it right he can reap more rewards even after the movie has run its course in theaters. There are TV, digital and merchandising licenses that await the business-savvy director like Steven Spielberg.

Top director: Steven Spielberg – $100 million


The man who gave us the classic blockbusters didn’t seem to have given us much this year except for some below-the-radar TV series like Extant and Under the Dome as an executive producer. So where did the money come from? From his library of big-shot film franchises including E.T., the Jurassic series, the Men in Black series, the Transformers series… his rich archive is truly a treasure hoard that earns the director (he’s lately been more into producing, though) millions of bucks every year, and, perhaps like Michael Jackson, will earn him more beyond his years.

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Writing a novel still pays handsomely. So writers, go back to writing.

Top author: E.L. James – $95 million


Our third highest celebrity earner may put the fire back in the hearts of millions of writers who dream of hitting it big time, but are discouraged by the seemingly diminishing readership in the U.S. and elsewhere. Not the 50 Shades of Grey author though, who proved that the publishing industry is not only surviving, but is still a very lucrative business if luck should strike. The trilogy of erotic romance stories sold over 90 million copies around the world. But the best is yet to come. Talks are in the process that Universal Pictures is planning a film adaptation.


Celebrity status is not all face or voice. If you can call the shots, you can earn more than the talents.

Top consultants: Simon Cowell and Howard Stern – $95 million


Tied in third place with the top earning author are two celebrities who don’t act, sing, write, or play sports, but they are celebrities because they’re helping to develop the business side of show business and lending their magnetic personalities to these endeavors. Simon Cowell got paid this year mostly from creating the formats for The X Factor and Got Talent, both popular franchises around the world that gave the Brit some really good royalty and licensing returns. Meanwhile, Stern got to reap millions from subscriptions to his satellite radio service, SiriusXM, but the radio personality turned TV this year. The controversial shock jock was rumored to have been paid $15 million to sit as an America’s Got Talent judge.


Why act or sing when you can just pay to make your celebrity status happen. Producers are generally away from the limelight, but this man is perhaps more popular than some of the actors that had appeared in his films.

Top producer: Jerry Bruckheimer – $80 million


The TV and film producer is included by virtue that Steven Spielberg earned his reputation as a director more than a producer, while Bruckheimer is a prolific producer that gave us the likes of Black Hawk Down, Top Gun, The Amazing Race, CSI series, and much more. This year, his Pirates of the Caribbean was back grossing around $3.7 billion worldwide. But it’s hasn’t run its course yet. Jack Sparrow is back in 2016, according to the producer who’s also planning to revive his Top Gun franchise with a second serving in the same year.

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They say work and play don’t mix, but athletes don’t heed them, anyway. They play and earn big bucks and become celebrities in their own right.

Top sports celebrity: Tiger Woods – $78 million


The man is back in shape and business. With five PGA tour wins this year, Woods raked in a good windfall of prize monies on the course. Off the course, Woods has earned multimillion endorsement deals and bonuses with Nike and Rolex. But pundits are declaring the great golfer is on his way out after dominating the sports between 1996 and 2008. It will be a steady decline, rather than a sudden curtain call that saw other great golfers faded away as age catches up with him.


You’d think Hollywood actors and actresses will be at the higher rank in our list given the worldwide fame of their movies and of the Oscars and Golden Globe, too. But you couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, they’re far down in our list at the second bottom of celebrity earners.

Top actor: Robert Downey, Jr. – $75 million


Thanks to Iron Man 3, Robert Downey, Jr. carried the banner for his acting buddies to at least not end up at the bottom of the pit. Downey is more of Tony Stark these days, having latched on his brand to the self-styled billionaire scientists/superhero, whom we shall meet again with increased anticipation in 2015. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is now in the pre-production stage.


The modeling business is a tough career. You’re almost always out when you hit thirties and you’re often only good as your walk and hardly your talk.

Top model: Gisele Bundchen – $42 million


But not the 32-year old Gisele, the 5’11” Brazilian fashion model, who have worn Versace, Givenchy, and Salvatore Ferragamo. She also beat Rihanna this year to become Chanel’s girl for its newest line, Les Beiges. All those modeling contracts and other endorsements put Gisele in our list of celebrity big earners.

If for anything what our list tells us, in show business, celebrities who keep earning big money understand that the industry is not just all show but a true business. Celebrities who know how to create works that endure time stand to earn big bucks long after their star has faded. Otherwise, they end up like the working man without a financial plan—he’s only good as the last paycheck.

Category: Financial News

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