10 Songs That Earned Artists Millions Of Dollars


Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!” featuring Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”, and the Furious 7’s original soundtrack “See You Again” are the top three best-selling songs (so far) in 2015 according to Forbes. Although these singles sold more than 3,000,000 copies each and also earned a lot of dollars in profit, these top 10 best selling songs of all time will put these numbers to shame.

10. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas) $19M in Estimated Earnings

Originally sung by Nat King Cole in the 1940’s, the Christmas Song, a holiday playlist staple, has been covered by many artists through the decades like Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, and Tony Bennett.

Hearing the lyrics of this song would make you imagine its composer, Mel Torme writing the song in front of his fireplace at home during winter, but surprisingly, this Christmas melody was written under the hot Chicago summer sun when he was 19 years old.

9. Oh, Pretty Woman $19.75M in Estimated Earnings

You’ll have Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in their 90’s hit movie “Pretty Woman” in mind when you hear this song. But even before this film came out in 1990, the song was already a big hit in the 60’s when it was performed by Roy Orbison, which he wrote together with Bill Dees. It was reported that Dees was earning around $200,000 for the song every year before he died in 2012.

8. Every Breath You Take $20.5M in Estimated Earnings

Recorded by the English rock band The Police for their “Synchronicity” album, this all-time most profitable song is written by another English music legend, Sting. When this song came out in 1983, it spent eight weeks at the top list of Billboard’s Hot 100. It has been such a huge hit that it was even included in Billboard’s top 100 songs of all time. According to Sting’s former manager, the singer-composer earns at least $2,000 a day in royalties for this song alone.

7. Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town $25M In Estimated Earnings

Another Christmas jingle is ranked as one of the most profitable songs of all time. The song, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, composed by Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, was first heard on the radio in 1934 on Eddie Cantor’s show. Even after several decades, a number of singers, like Mariah Carey came out with their own versions of the song for their holiday albums.


6. Stand By Me $27M in Estimated Earnings

This classic song is performed by Ben E. King, which he wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. “Stand By Me” was an immediate hit when it came out in 1961. Two decades later, this song was used as an OST and movie title of the 1989 coming of age film starring Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, and Jerry O’Connell.

5. Unchained Melody $27.5M in Estimated Earnings

Of course you know this song from the Oscar award-winning film “Ghost” starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg. However, did you know that the version used in the film is not the original version of this classic song? ”Unchained Melody” composed by Alex North and Hy Zaret was originally sung by Todd Duncan as a soundtrack of another less popular film, “Unchained” in 1955. It was, however, the 1965 version of The Righteous Brothers that became more popular when it was used as an OST for “Ghost” in 1990.

4. Yesterday $30M in Estimated Earnings

“Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away…”

Who doesn’t know the lyrics of this timeless song? Although solely written and performed by Sir Paul McCartney, this song is credited to him and his bandmate, John Lennon. It may not be surprising to see a Beatles song on this list, but what’s interesting to know is that this melody which was released in 1965 already has more than two thousand covers from a variety of artists; making this song the second top played song in radio history. As expected, McCartney and Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono earn millions of dollars in royalties for this song alone; talk about being profitable!

3. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ $32M In Estimated Earnings

As if “Yesterday” wasn’t a big enough song, this tune, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” is named as the top played song in the history of radio. This song, written by the couple Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil was also covered by The Righteous Brothers, whose version turned into a bigger hit when it became a soundtrack of the 80’s movie blockbuster Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.

2. White Christmas $36M in Estimated Earnings

It seems like writing a Christmas song will make you millions of dollars as a third holiday carol is included in the top most profitable songs of all time.

Composed by Irving Berlin in the 1940’s, Bing Crosby’s version of this song is named by the Guinness World Records as the best-selling single of all time with more than 100,000,000 copies sold all over the globe.


1. Happy Birthday $50M in Estimated Earnings


Surprised? What sounds like a simple nursery rhyme is actually the world’s most profitable song of all time. This song that has 18 translated versions was composed by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893 so they can have a song to sing in their kindergarten class. Owners of the song’s rights have changed over the years. Today, the song is believed to earn $5,000 a day in royalties.


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