Music History

Published on January 14th, 2014 | by Alan Cross

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Here’s How Much You Can Earn from a Mega-Hit Song

Sometimes all you need is one great song and you’re set for life.  The Express put together this list.

  • “American Pie” by Don McLean (1972):  Annual estimated royalties total about $322,000 a year.  Every time it’s played on the radio, it means another 15 cents for Don.
  • “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty (1978):  $145,000 a year.  The story is that the sax player on that track made about $50 for his contributions.
  • “Every Breath You Take” by the Police (1983):  $2,100 a day or almost $800,000 a year.  From just this one song.

If go further down the article, we find a list of the all-time greatest money-generating songs.  Crazy!

1. Hill Sisters – Happy Birthday (1893) – £30.5million

2. Irving Berlin – White Christmas (1940) – £22million

3. Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Specter – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1964) – £19.5million

4. John Lennon and Paul McCartney – Yesterday (1965) – £18million

5. Alex North & Hy Zaret – Unchained Melody (1955) – £17million

6. Ben E King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller – Stand By Me (1961) – £16.5million

7. Haven Gillespie & Fred J Coots – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1934) – £15million

8. Sting – Every Breath You Take (1983) – £12.5million

9. Roy Orbison & Bill Deeds – Oh Pretty Woman (1964) – £12million

10. Mel Tormé – Christmas Song (1944) – £11.6million

The whole article is fascinating.  Go through it here.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.


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