The 10 richest (i.e. highest-earning) songs of all time

Sure, it’s nice to have a long string of hit songs that generate royalties to support you in to your dotage. But sometimes, you need just one song to make that happen.

Celebrity Net Worth took a look at the hit songs that have generated the most in royalties since they were released. All figures are in American dollars.

  1. Happy Birthday, The Hill Sisiters (1893): Esitmated earnings of $70 million.
  2. White Christmas, Irving Berlin (1940): $66 million (It’s sold over 100 million copies in various forms)
  3. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector (1964): $65 million
  4. Yesterday, Paul McCartney and John Lennon (1965): $60 million (It’s the most-covered song of all time)
  5. Unchained Melody, Alex North and Hy Zaret (1955): $55 million
  6. Stand by Me, Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (1961): $50 million
  7. Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Haven Gillespie and Fred Coots (1934), $45 million
  8. Every Breath You Take, Sting (1983): $35 million (Sting makes about $2,000/day from the song)
  9. Oh Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison and Bill Dees (1964): $30 million
  10. Christmas Song, Mel Torme (1944): $35 million

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 “The 10 richest (i.e. highest-earning) songs of all time

  • October 19, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    So then, if the average person breathes 22,000 times per day. Then, every breath Sting takes, he’ll be making 9 cents.


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