Think Whitney Houston’s Estate Will See $$$ After Her Death? Think Again.

Some months ago, I learned from a British music magazine that Dolly Parton’s net worth was somewhere around $900 million.  NINE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.  A big chunk of that fortune came from soundtrack of Whitney’s movie, The Bodyguard, which has sold 44 million copies worldwide, the biggest ever for a female singer.

That, of course, is where we first found Whitney’s cover of Dolly Parton’s 1974 hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Dolly did well with her original version, but that was nothing compared to the massive, massive success of the WH version.

Since Whitney Houston’s passing, people all over the world have been gobbling up her albums and singles in stores and online.  Video and radio airplay has exploded.  And because “I Will Always Love You” was her biggest hit, that means more money for Dolly.  

How much more?  Every time a song is played on the radio, that’s worth about 8 cents to the writer/publisher of the song.  In this case, it’s Dolly.  Houston’s estate gets nothing as she’s only the singer.

It’s a different case when it comes to sales of music.  An artist of Whitney’s stature probably got around $2 an album, minus any advances or loans.  

And there’s the rub.

According to insiders, Whitney was broke.  She was living off advances from her record company.  It’s quite possible that her estate actually owes the record company money.  That means any sales royalties generated in the coming weeks and months won’t go to the family but to the label to pay off her debts.

Meanwhile, Dolly and every other songwriter who supplied Whitney with songs over the course of her career will see some very big cheques coming their way.

Ain’t the superstar life grand?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Think Whitney Houston’s Estate Will See $$$ After Her Death? Think Again.

  • February 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    How Sad for Whitney's daughter….


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