Music Business

How much will ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ earn this Holiday season?

We all know how popular Christmas tunes take over every radio station during the holiday season, but have you ever thought about who’s getting compensated for all those streams? And how much?

by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

We all know that a holiday hit can be the gift that keeps on giving, but it’s hard enough to have a hit during the rest of the year let alone on a major holiday. That said, there’s always a lot of speculation just how much one of these big holiday hits brings in. Well, speculate no more because Billboard has done a deep dive into the royalty stream of a Christmas staple – Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.”

Oldie But Goodie

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” was written by Johnny Marks, who hit the holiday jackpot not once, not twice, but three times, thanks to two other big Christmas hits – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Brenda Lee recorded the song in 1958 when she was only 13 years old (!). The song featured the Nashville A-team of studio musicians in Hank Garland and Harold Bradley on guitar, Floyd Cramer on piano, Boots Randolph on tenor saxophone, Bob Moore on double bass, and Buddy Harman on drums.

The song actually didn’t chart until 1960 when it reached #14 on the Billboard singles chart. This year (2023) is actually the first year that it’s risen to #1, and it’s been there for 2 weeks with a few more weeks of the season still left.

How Much Does It Make?

Billboard estimates that in 2022, the song had 464 million streams and 25,000 track downloads. This means that it took in about $2.7 million in master recording revenue for Lee and her label, Universal Music Group, and $1.274 million in publishing revenue, which totals about $4 million.

So far this year Billboard estimates that the song has garnered about 301 million on-demand global streams and 16,000 track downloads. That means that the master recording has made around $1.6 million in revenue and about $700,000 in publishing revenue, or $2.3 million total. Remember that we still have about 2 weeks more to go in the season.

So there you have it. Is it worth it to keep trying to write that holiday hit? You bet it is. Now if someone could come up with a Thanksgiving song, that would make some real dough.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author, blogger, podcaster, and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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