Year after year when Christmas time rolls around, we always seem to find ourselves listening to same bunch Christmas songs, with very few exceptions. Despite the fact that many of our favourite Christmas songs have been covered, rerecorded and revamped, and we still find ourselves listening to the golden oldies and classics, which really seem to have stood the test of time.
Although many successful bands and singers that have released Christmas songs, many others disbanded or had a short-lived careers having fallen into obscurity only getting played during the Christmas period. So why is this? Where they really just a case of the old ‘One hit wonder’s’ or were the amount of Christmas royalties enough for them to forfeit their musical careers?
So, despite whether you’re more of a golden oldie and a classic Christmas song fan, preferring to listen to Bing Crosby’s 'White Christmas' rather than East 17’s 'Stay Another Day', have you ever stopped and wondered how much money these songs make each year through royalties? And how much they’ve managed to make since their release?
In this article we will look at how much the nations favourite Christmas songs have earned since being released, to see whether you should consider releasing a Christmas song and make a living out of just living off of the annual royalties each year.
'All I Want for Christmas is You' – Mariah Carey
Arguably, this is one of the most famous Christmas songs, so how could we make a list of the nation’s favourite Christmas songs without including Mariah Carey? Since the classic was released on the 1st of November 1994, the famous Christmas hit has been played each Christmas consecutively for 24 years! Which has been estimated to have earned Mariah a staggering $60 million (£47.5 million) up until last year in 2017.
However, despite the song having international sales all over the world of 16 million and being one of the nation’s favourite Christmas songs, unfortunately, Mariah won’t be winning our prize for having the most royalties annually, but the amount she earns from royalties in the UK alone is nothing to be laughed at. In fact, it was estimated in 2015 that Mariah was earning £376,000 annually from radio stations and television companies playing and using her records, which shows that the song’s popularity is hardly dwindling after nearly a quarter of a decade.
As well as this, Mariah has just finished her Christmas tour performing the Christmas hit, and she’s bound to have made more annually from her sell-out shows as well as the royalties from her music! We’re sure it’s set to be a very Merry Christmas this year for Mariah and her family!
'Fairy Tale of New York' – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl’s song sparked massive controversy due to its lyrics this year in 2018, but has remained a popular Christmas song since it was released on the 23rd of November in 1987, meaning that it has been popular with singletons, couples, families and disgruntled couples alike for 31 years; but will the recent controversy affect this year’s royalties?
As of last year, in 2017, the song had sold 1.2 million copies in the UK alone, and the Telegraph reported that it had earned £400,000 in royalties in 2015, beating Mariah Carey’s 'All I Want for Christmas is You' in the royalty stakes. Regardless of the controversy, it doesn’t appear that the song is going anywhere soon, as it still proves to be a Christmas classic and a favourite for many, which is why it has made it onto our favourite Christmas song list this year.
'Last Christmas' – Wham!
Now this classic is arguably one of both Wham!’s and the nation’s biggest Christmas songs ever. Heartthrobs Andrew Ridgely and the late great George Michael released their Christmas anthem for all of those broken hearts at Christmastime all the way back on the 3rd of December 1984. Moreover, it seems to have struck a chord with many people, as it has been consistently popular being played every year of those 34 years since, can you believe it?
As of last year, in 2017, 'Last Christmas' had sold a massive 1.88 million copies in the UK, and according to the Telegraph, it earns around £470,000 annually in Christmas royalties alone, not including the all the other royalties from all of Wham! And George Michael’s other smash hits.
Sadly, George Michael passed away on the 25th of December 2016; however, it was only after his passing that the public became aware of his outstanding and selfless generosity, which included him and Ridgely donating of all of the money from the sales of 1984 from 'Last Christmas' to the Band-Aid cause. And it doesn’t stop there, this Christmas it has been reported that even two years after George’s death his generosity still continues as his estate still continues donate to Childline and the Los Angeles AIDs Charity.
'Wonderful Christmastime' – Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney has undoubtedly remained popular in the musical spotlight consistently for over 58 years. Sir Paul first started off with his career in the spotlight when he formed the Beatles with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all the way back in 1960. After the Beatles disbanded 10 years later in 1970, he then went on to form Paul McCartney and The Wings with wife Linda McCartney. Throughout his musical career, McCartney has been able to have a successful solo career throughout, meaning that he is arguably one of the best British musicians of all time.
McCartney’s solo Christmas song a 'Wonderful Christmastime' was released on the 16th of November 1979 and as of 2017 has made an annual gross of $15 million (£11.8 million) worldwide since its release 39 years ago. It has been suggested that every year McCartney is set to earn £316,000 from A 'Wonderful Christmastime' alone, not including the royalties from The Beatles, Wings or his solo career songs, making him one of the richest and successful musicians in the UK.
'I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday' – Wizzard
Remember when you were a kid, and you wished it would be Christmas every day? Well, that’s just what Brummie glam rock band Wizzard have been wishing for 45 years since 'I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday' was released in December of 1973. Wizzard had a relatively short-lived musical career, as after being formed in 1972, they disbanded just 3 years after in 1975, with their Christmas song being their only real hit, making them Christmas one-hit wonders, but are there Christmas royalties enough to see them through the rest of the year after they split up?
According to the Express, two Christmases ago back in 2016, Wizzard was able to rack up an impressive £180,000 from the royalties of their Christmas song, which isn’t bad for a band that disbanded 43 years ago!
'White Christmas' – Bing Crosby
'White Christmas' is the oldest song on our list, as it was first performed by Bing Crosby in December 1941 and then being recorded and released the following year on the 29th of May 1942, in plenty of time for the next Christmas.
Although Bing Crosby passed away in 1977, the song has still remained an absolute classic since its release 76 years ago, and there have been countless covers and versions, from artists which include: The Drifters, Frank Sinatra and Otis Reading, all which haven’t stood the test of time as Crosby’s version has.
Crosby’s version is estimated to have sold over 50 million copies worldwide since its release, and last year it was still able to accumulate £300,000 worth of revenue in royalties. Crosby’s version goes to prove that just because it’s an oldie, doesn’t mean it still isn’t a goodie proving that 'White Christmas' has stood the tests of time as it has still made it onto our favourite Christmas song list into 2018.
'Stay Another Day' – East 17
Along with Mariah Carey, this song is one of the most recent songs on our lists, but it still doesn’t mean that it’s that recent. On the 21st of November 1994, 'Stay Another Day' was released by Walthamstow boys conveniently named East 17, which alike to Wizzard, was their only big hit.
Although East 17’s song didn’t really make it across the pond or internationally, the song is synonymous with Christmastime in the UK and had massive success in many countries across Europe as well as in the UK. Regardless, the Christmas hit is still able to generate royalties of £97,000; the least amount of royalties on our list but still it’s nothing to turn your nose up at.
East 17 are still living off the back of their Christmas hit song success, as they recently turned on the lights and performed the song at the town hall of their hometown this year in 2018.
'Mistletoe and Wine' – Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard has had many Christmas hits and even a Christmas album, but we’ve had to draw the line and just had to go with everyone’s Nan’s favourite Cliff song, 'Mistletoe and Wine'.
Cliff’s Christmas carol was released on the 21st of November 1988 and is a little more of a traditional, peaceful Christmas song rather than one that you’d crack out at your Christmas party. Nevertheless, Cliff is still able to earn £100,000 in royalties from the sales and usage of 'Mistletoe and Wine' alone.
Which makes us wonder how much Cliff is able to accumulate with his discography of Christmas classics.
'Merry Christmas Everybody' – Slade
Last but certainly not least is another 70’s glam rock band Slade with their classic, 'Merry Christmas Everybody' which coincidently is the song on our favourites list which may be to your surprise is able to get the most amount of royalties than any of the other songs on our list.
'Merry Christmas Everybody' was released 45 years ago on the 7th of December 1973, the same year as Wizzard’s classic hit too, meaning that 1973 must have been a good year for Christmas hits. But are you ready for this? According to the Independent, Slade are able to make a staggering £1 million per year out of their Christmas hit single, and they weren’t just one hit wonders either!
Slade were big in the 70s for their other hits such as ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ and ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’. Although the band were formed all the way back 1966 and are missing some of their original members, they’re still going strong and good luck to them!
So, if you’re considering releasing a Christmas song and living off the earnings, just make sure it’s a good one, as you’re up against a lot of stiff competition!
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