When it comes to the holiday season, Mariah Carey’s name has become synonymous with catchy tunes and festive cheer. Her iconic 1994 Christmas song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is now a holiday anthem and a significant source of income for the superstar.
Over the years, the song has continued to dominate charts, public spaces and retail environments during the months of November and December.
But just how much does Mariah Carey earn annually from her beloved holiday classic, and what makes this song so lucrative?
All Hail the Queen of Christmas
For the fourth consecutive year, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” reigns supreme on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart during the holiday season.
Each year on Nov. 1, Carey declares the festive season open, marking the tradition this year with a video of herself being defrosted with the caption, “It’s…… TIME!!!”
When “All I Want for Christmas Is You” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 2019 for the first time, Carey released a new music video to celebrate the song’s 25th anniversary. She did a holiday concert tour last year and is currently on one this year. She also drops new merch around the same time.
The song’s influence extends beyond the charts, as it also holds the top position on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Holiday 100 Songs chart.
“When I wrote [it], I had absolutely no idea the impact the song would eventually have worldwide,” Carey said in 2021. “I’m so full of gratitude that so many people enjoy it with me every year.”
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, sales involve a formula. Album sales, single sales and on-demand audio and/or video streams are calculated at the formula of 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video streams equals track sales equals 1 album sale.
The Sweet Sound of Income
Over the years, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has brought joy to listeners and substantial revenue to Mariah Carey. According to estimates from The Economist, Carey accumulated a staggering $60 million from 1996 to 2016, as a result of the song’s success. However, the song’s earnings didn’t stop there. In 2021 alone, the song was estimated to generate approximately $6.16 million in master recording and publishing revenue.
Carey’s share of the master recording revenue in 2021 was around $1.55 million, according to Billboard. She earned about $830,000 in publishing revenue as one of the song’s co-writers. Sony Music also reaps substantial financial benefits from the song’s annual performance, estimated at approximately $2.95 million in 2021.
Songwriters Andy Stone and Troy Powers filed a $20 million lawsuit in November against Carey and her co-writer Walter Afanasieff, alleging copyright infringement and noting their 1989 country song of the same name. The lawsuit claims thematic and narrative similarities between the two songs. In 2022,, Stone, also known as Vince Vance, withdrew a similar lawsuit about the songs in Louisiana federal court.
There also has been a 20-year rift between Carey and Afanasieff, who felt that his contribution to the song had been overlooked, Time reported.
“Mariah has been very wonderful, positive and a force of nature,” he told Variety in 1999. “She’s the one that made the song a hit and she’s awesome. But she definitely does not share credit where credit is due. As a result, it has really hurt my reputation and, as a result, has left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth.”
The Streaming Revolution
Streaming has helped make classic songs more profitable. Streaming monetizes every play, allowing artists and labels to earn though many artists, like Snoop Dogg, say the revenue generated from streaming isn’t comparable to the number of streams.
According to Billboard estimates, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” generated about $6.16 million in master recording and publishing revenue in 2021 based on 94,000 downloads and 823 million streams.