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Lionel Richie's Net Worth in 2024 Is the Stuff of Idols

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022, has been making history—and building a massive net worth—for decades as a beloved singer, songwriter and performer. He also paved the way for many Black artists to share their music and step into the spotlight.

"I’m so glad I made it when I did," he recently told Parade of his career. "We didn’t have to worry about finding me on Instagram or TikTok or YouTube. You just had to hear me on the radio. There was a uniqueness to the voice. Prince didn’t sound like Michael Jackson. Don’t get me wrong—everybody can sing their hearts out now but I can’t identify the voices."

In 2018, Richie joined popstar Katy Perry and country singer Luke Bryan as a judge in the reboot of the singing competition show American Idol, bringing his vast understanding of what it takes to make it in the industry to the table.

“Instead of sitting here moaning about how the world has changed since I started, I'm going to tell [the contestants] what it takes,” he told The New York Times. “You think it's just singing? No, it's not. What kind of style do you have? What kind of stamina do you have? How many times can you take 'No'? How many times can you come back? That’s an artist.”

Here’s a look at what Richie makes from his gig on Idol and the net worth he’s earned from his many years as a successful musician.

Related: Lionel Richie on How He Covers When He Forgets the Lyrics on Stage

How did Lionel Richie get his start?

Richie was born into a musical family, raised with a classical pianist grandmother and jazz musician uncle. While attending college at the historic Tuskegee Institute in the late 1960s, he joined a campus band called the Mystics as a saxophonist and composer. That band would later be renamed the Commodores and Richie would be shuffled to lead singer, a gig that would shoot him into stardom.

By the early 1970s, the Commodores were performing all over New York City and had even toured in Europe. In 1971, they opened for the Jackson 5 and continued to gain popularity until they signed with a record label in ‘74. They released their first album four years later and the song “Three Times a Lady,” written and sung by Richie, became a Billboard Hot 100 hit.

What is Lionel Richie's net worth in 2024?

Lionel Richie has an estimated net worth of $200 million in 2024, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His fortune comes from over five decades of writing hit songs and performing them all over the world, both with the Commodores and as a solo act.

Who did Lionel Richie write songs for?

Even greater than his voice is Lionel Richie’s talent for songwriting. In addition to writing his own material, he’s written songs for other well-known artists and groups, including:

The Temptations (“Happy People”)

Kenny Rogers (“Lady,” “So in Love with You”)

Diana Ross (“Missing You,” “Endless Love”)

What is Lionel Richie's biggest hit?

Lionel Richie had many hits over his decades in music.

In terms of earning power, his biggest hit was the song “We Are the World,” which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson for charity in 1985 (it raised $63 million). As far as his solo career goes, “All Night Long (All Night)” was his most successful hit, off his second album released in 1983. It went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for four weeks.

Richie’s most successful overall song, however, is “Endless Love,” which he released with Diana Ross in 1981. It topped the Hot 100 for nine weeks and is still the chart’s best-performing duet of all time.

What is Lionel Richie's American Idol salary?

According to multiple sources, including Celebrity Net Worth, Richie earns around $10 million per year as a judge on American Idol. However, if that was his salary for his first season in 2018 it very well could’ve gone up since then.

How much does Lionel Richie get for being on American Idol?

Lionel Richie reportedly earns about $10 million per year for judging on American Idol. The show typically runs for 20 episodes each season, meaning Richie makes $500,000 per episode.

Related: All About the Latest Season of 'American Idol'

Who is the highest-paid judge on American Idol in 2024?

Since its 2018 revival, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie have served as the show’s three judges. Perry, a popstar who rose to fame in 2008, is the highest-paid judge currently on Idol with a reported salary of $25 million per year.

Luke Bryan makes $12 million, per Forbes, and Richie is the lowest-paid with a salary of around $10 million.

Related: Hear Her Bank Account Roar! Katy Perry's Net Worth in 2024

Did Lionel Richie get paid for ‘We Are the World’?

“We Are the World” is a hit 1985 song credited to USA for Africa, a temporary group of ultra-famous artists such as Stevie WonderBruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Billy Joel and more. The song was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

“Michael and I decided from the beginning that this should be an anthem,” Richie told the Los Angeles Times. “And an anthem means we’re looking for a forever song.”

A forever song is what they got. After its release, “We Are the World” sold 800,000 copies in just three days and topped Billboard’s Hot 100 for four straight weeks. It won Grammys for record and song of the year and went on to be certified quadruple platinum. Most importantly, it raised a lot of money—nearly $11 million in record sales alone and $63 million in total, according to Screen Rant.

It appears as if all of that money went toward its intended purpose in aiding famine relief in Africa, meaning that Richie was not paid for it. Proceeds from the song still help alleviate poverty in Africa and the United States today, according to the website USA for Africa.

Richie recently executive produced and narrated a documentary about the making of the single, The Greatest Night in Pop, for Netflix. "You’ve got the greatest vocalists in the world, but we still had to remind Bob Dylan to sing like Bob Dylan!" he told Parade of the documentary footage. "No one will ever put that vulnerability into anything today. You won’t see somebody say, 'I’m not sure about this.' But everyone dropped their guard. You saw the real deal. Nothing was manufactured that got cleaned up later."

Why did Lionel Richie stop making music?

These days, Richie splits his time between coaching new singers as a judge on American Idol and performing with older ones – he’s on tour with the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire through June. While he may not be writing or producing music like he used to, it’s safe to say his days as an artist are not over yet.

Next, They Are His World, They Are His Children: All About Lionel Richie's 3 Kids and Their Moms