Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas was played 10.8 million times on Spotify over Christmas Eve – a new one-day record. This is how much money she made as a result:
“I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need…”
There’s no point beating around the Christmas tree about it: Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is the soundtrack of the season. Not even the grinchiest of grinches can resist the sound of those gently jingling bells in the intro – and it’s a fact well established that e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y knows the words (don’t believe us? Whip it out at your next office Christmas party, sit back and enjoy the mass singalong).
It’s no wonder, then, that Carey’s smash-hit – released all the way back in 1994 – broke Spotify records over Christmas 2018.
That’s right: the song broke the one-day streaming record on Spotify with nearly 11 million streams. To put that in perspective for you, that’s more than 120 listens every second.
With a performance like that, you’d probably think that Carey raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the festive period. Millions, even. But think again: in fact, the figure is somewhere closer to $92,000 (approx. £72,000). At most.
According to an article from TIME, Spotify pays rights holders between 0.006 and 0.0084 cents per play. This would put the maximum payout for Carey’s one-day stream at under $92,400.
The cash doesn’t go to her solely, either: rights holders must split these earning between the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters (in this instance, All I Want For Christmas was written by Carey and a partner, Walter Afanasieff), which means splitting pennies between many parties.
Of course, it’s not a terrible take for a single day – and Carey isn’t exactly short of cash: indeed, she is sitting at an estimated net worth of over half a billion dollars. But do remember that she is one of the biggest artists of all time, this is one of the most iconic songs ever, and Christmas is the only time of year when it can hit these kind of numbers.
Imagine, then, how little money is being made by all those independent artists trying to break into the music industry. It goes some way towards explaining why the likes of Kabir Sehgal and Taylor Swift have been so vehemently against Spotify in the past.
“I didn’t like the way it felt,” Swift previously told TIME. “I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.”
She added: “Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales…
“On Spotify, they don’t have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music. I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that.”
It is worth noting, of course, that music streaming is now the biggest generator of revenue, according to The Economist. Indeed, programs like Spotify have reversed the revenue drops the music industry have been experiencing since the mid-2000s, and pay out nearly 70% of their revenue in royalties.
Essentially, Spotify has been good for the music industry, helping it to not just survive, but thrive, too.
But if the likes of Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is picking up less than $100K at its busiest time of year, then we can’t help but wonder how smaller, lesser known artists are going to make their voices heard – let alone get their careers off the ground.