The Insane Amount Gifted to Mariah Carey and the Pogues Every Christmas

Can one big holiday hit really set a musician up for life?

Christmas royalties
Mariah Carey makes how much off her Christmas classic each year? (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Mariah Carey)
Jeff Kravitz

Christmas songs, primarily, are classics and covers that have worked their way into the lexicon over a number of years, earning them coveted spots on our annual playlists.

But what monetary compensations do the artists of holiday favorites — like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You or The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York — actually bring in for their singers year after year as they repeat across the airwaves? 

Organizations that have that information, like the Performing Right Society (PRS), do not reveal the answer in the interest of protecting its members’ privacy, The Independent reported.

But an investigation done by British news station Channel 5 in 2016 tried to parse the numbers, and curated the following list of the top earners for the year.

  1. Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade $1,256,200 (in royalties per year)
  2. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl $502,480
  3. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey $502,480
  4. White Christmas by Bing Crosby $412,033
  5. Last Christmas by Wham! $376,860
  6. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney $326,612
  7.  Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie – $150,744
  8. 2000 Miles by The Pretenders – $128,132
  9. Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard – $125,620
  10. Stay Another Day by East 17 – $121,851

“It is definitely a pension plan, yes,” Slade’s Noddy Holder told the BBC. “It was never designed to be that way but it has taken on a life of its own, definitely… It’s been used for adverts, it’s been used in movies, it’s been used for all sorts of things.”

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