How Justin Bieber became a £150m empire

He sings songs, tweets and has nice hair – but Justin Beiber’s rise to a nine-figure fortune shows he’s far more than a pretty face.

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber hasn’t had the best time of it recently. Yet despite the negative publicity surrounding his UK tour, and whatever your views on the man himself, there’s clearly a lot more to the Canadian singer than a haircut, voice and pretty face.

Despite being just 19, Bieber has amassed a fortune that pop stars three times his age can only dream of. And rather than blow it on women and fast cars he is already becoming a canny businessman.

Forbes put the singer’s earnings at a tidy $55 million (£36 million) for the year ending May 2012, while he earned $53 million (£35 million) for the period May 2010 to May 2011. That’s $110 million (£73 million) in two years alone.

Singing songs might be Bieber’s core business but record sales are just one income stream; he’s raking it in from concerts, merchandise, sponsorship deals and movies too - meaning his overall fortune could be far higher.


Where he came from

The story of Justin Bieber is truly rags to riches. His mother was a single parent living in low-income housing while working a series of poorly-paid jobs in Ontario, Canada.

When he came second in a local singing competition, his mum posted his performance on YouTube. She continued uploading her son singing R&B covers and his popularity on the site grew.

In 2008, when Bieber was just 14, his YouTube videos were spotted by Scott “Scooter” Braun who later became his manager. Before long he was signed to Raymond Braun Media Group, a joint venture between Braun and singer Usher, and then to a recording contract with Island Records.

Bieber’s debut single ‘One Time’ made the top 10 in Canada and his first album ‘My World’ included seven hit singles.

To date, Bieber has released three studio albums - ‘My World’, ‘Under the Mistletoe’ and ‘Believe’ - and sold more than 15 million albums in total.

Cashing in on singing songs

Album sale revenues of about $48.5 million (£32 million) are just part of his wealth. He’s earned around $150 million (£99 million) from concerts while his part-concert and part-biopic film ‘Never Say Never’ racked up $100 million (£66 million) at the box office in total.

Like all top celebs, Bieber has his own fragrance, Someday, which generated around $60m (£40 million) in retail sales in its first six months on the market alone.

In 2011 he also earned an eye-watering $1 million (£660,000) for appearing in a 30-second ad for technology retail giant Best Buy transmitted during the Super Bowl, one of the most high-profile spots for advertisers.

Meanwhile his fresh-faced looks also landed him a $3 million (£2 million), two-year deal to endorse US acne treatment ProActiv.

All that means that if Bieber Inc was a company, it would have had revenues of more than £150 million.

What he’s doing with all that cash

As well as amassing an impressive fortune while still in his teens, Bieber appears to be spending it wisely and has quietly been ploughing millions into tech start-ups. Forbes estimates Bieber’s venture investments at around $3 million (£2 million).

Sticking to his social media roots – Justin has 36 million followers on Twitter – investments he’s made so far include messaging platform Tinychat. In January 2012 he was part of a £1.5million financing round for Tinychat with A-Grade, an investment fund run by actor Ashton Kutcher, Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary and billionaire Ron Burkle.

Bieber’s also invested in Stamped, a social media app which lets users review music and restaurants.

Another venture is Sojo Studios, a gaming company established in 2010, where comedian Ellen DeGeneres is a fellow investor. Alongside music moguls including Sean Parker and Li Ka-shing, Bieber also bought into music streaming service Spotify.

Unlike other stars and their sponsorship deals, Bieber’s investments are not typical equity-for-endorsement trades. Instead he invests cash into each business and very few of them have promoted their products’ links to Bieber.

The companies tend to be ones that appeal to Bieber’s core audience and whereas teens and pre-teens don’t have wads of disposable money, they do spend a lot of time on social media.

“I’m not going to invest in something I don’t like; I have to believe in the product,” he is quoted as saying.

More tangible purchases

As well as ploughing his head-earned cash into start-ups, Bieber’s also splashed out on bikes, cars and property.

A $20,000 Ducati 848 EVO superbike with a top speed of 159 miles per hour was allegedly delivered to Bieber in April 2012. If he’s in the mood for a car, rather than a bike, Bieber can hop into his Fisher Karma worth around $110,000. The all-chrome and environmentally-friendly hybrid car was reportedly a gift from Braun for the singer’s 18th birthday.

Bieber also owns at least two properties. First there is his $6 million (£4 million), 9,000 square foot mansion in Calabasas, California.  Down the road in Hollywood Hills, Bieber also owns a $10.8 million (£7.1 million) property which he bought as an 18th birthday present for himself.

All that means even if his fans take against his next album or – worse – haircut and stop buying tracks or showing up to his gigs, Justin looks set to prosper regardless.