How much do Christmas songs make each year?

12 December 2023, 12:46 | Updated: 12 December 2023, 13:02

Wham! and Noddy Holder of Slade: Christmas favourites
Wham! and Noddy Holder of Slade: Christmas favourites. Picture: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo/Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty

From Wham to Slade... just how much do these classic Christmas songs earn each festive season?

By Radio X

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It's not officially Christmas until Noddy Holder bellows out the famous opening line to Merry Xmas Everybody.

And, while he's probably over ever hearing Slade's iconic festive hit again, there is absolutely nothing boring about the thousands of pounds he earns in royalties annually since the song was first released 50 years ago.

By the end of the Christmas season, Holder must be tickled pink as his holiday tune earns him more money than any other Christmas song, racking up an estimated £500,000 in royalties each year... although the figure is rumoured to be closer to £1 million these days.

Although PRS, the Performing Rights Society, keep the exact figures secret to protect their clients, in 2021, the following guesstimates were circulated by The Independent.

The Biggest Earning Christmas Songs

  1. Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody: £500,000
  2. The Pogues - Fairy Tale of New York: £400,000
  3. Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You: £376,000
  4. Bing Crosby - White Christmas: £328,000
  5. Wham! - Last Christmas: £300,000
  6. Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime: £260,000
  7. Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry: £120,000
  8. The Pretenders - 2000 Miles: £102,000
  9. Cliff Richard - Mistletoe And Wine: £100,000
  10. East 17 - (Tony Mortimer) - Stay Another Day: £97,000

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (Official Top Of The Pops Video)

The figures for The Pogues' earnings for their 1987 single Fairytale Of New York are already out of date after the sad news of the death of frontman Shane MacGowan in November 2023. With the single tipped to make Christmas Number 1 this year, we can safely predict that the track will earn the singer's estate more than the projected £400,000 that appears on the list.

The Pogues - Fairytale Of New York (Official Video)

The Pogues are closely followed by Mariah Carey, who gets an estimated £376,000 for All I Want Is Christmas Is You. Elsewhere in the list are Wham! and Tony Mortimer of East 17, whose festive classics, Last Christmas and Stay Another Day earn them estimated £300,000 and £97,000 respectively. Not too shabby.

East 17 - Stay Another Day (Official Video)

Paul McCartney's 1979 singalong Wonderful Christmastime was overshadowed on its release by the mammoth success of his hit Mull Of Kintyre. One of the biggest selling singles ever, Mull topped the festive charts in 1977, while Wonderful Christmastime had to make do with a Number 6 placing two years later. However, the seasonal hit has endured longer and now apparently earns its composer a quarter of a million annually.

Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime

Jona Lewie's 1980 hit Stop The Cavalry is the only record in the Top 10 to appear on an independent label - in this case, Stiff Records, It's estimated that Lewie earns £120,000 every year from the track.

Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry

Perhaps more surprising - because it only made Number 15 in the charts on its first release - is the fact that The Pretenders' 2000 Miles racks up an estimated £102,000 each year.

The Pretenders - 2000 Miles (Official Music Video)