Mariah Carey has, in many ways, cornered the market on Christmas music with her definitive holiday hit, "All I Want for Christmas is You." As its popularity spikes again this year, many may be wondering how much the song actually makes for the artist.
Carey, now 52, penned the song when she was just 24 in 1994. It was part of her first Christmas album, which was wildly successful at the time. However, the earworm that is "All I Want for Christmas is You" clearly stuck out, and has become as synonymous with the holiday season to some people as "Jingle Bell Rock," "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" and "Frosty the Snowman." Since 1994, the song has shown up in a myriad of movies such as "Love Actually" and has even been covered by other artists such as Ariana Grande, CeeLo Green, My Chemical Romance, Kylie Minogue, Mumford and Sons as well as Shania Twain, which likely puts a pretty penny or two in Carey’s stocking each year.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the question of how much Carey actually makes every year from just the one track, it’s hard to answer with a solid figure. The music industry can be complicated, with revenue streams coming from a myriad of different directions such as record sales, royalties, streaming plays and more. This becomes especially tricky for a song that is almost 30 years old. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some concrete numbers out there to give fans a guess.
After the hit got renewed attention in 2019 when it shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since its release more than two decades prior, Celebrity Net Worth calculated that Carey gets somewhere between $600,000 and $1 million each December when the song’s popularity shoots up. It also famously unseated "The Chipmunk Song" by The Chipmunks with David Seville as the only holiday song to top the Billboard charts. Again, it’s worth noting those are rough numbers based solely on the spike it gets during the holidays. Not to mention the fact that its popularity has been starting earlier and earlier each year, with the artist herself ending Halloween this year with a nod to get people listening sooner.
Meanwhile, in an age of streaming, MRC Data, which tracks music analytics, suggests that Carey gets a whole new revenue stream out of "All I Want for Christmas is You." Billboard, which reports the data, noted in November 2021 that the track was already at No. 36, with 11.2 million U.S. streams, 8.2 million radio airplay audience impressions and 2,700 sold in the Nov. 12-18 tracking week.
Apple says that it pays an average play rate of $0.01, while Spotify boasts that artists are paid up to two-thirds of every dollar they make from music streaming. If her current streaming rates continue to increase as they have, estimates indicate that Carey could be making close to $2 million from streaming it every year. However, because it’s unclear how much of her streaming revenue is separate from her royalties, one has to stop short of combining the two numbers.
Regardless, one thing is clear, Mariah Carey takes home millions of dollars every Christmas season thanks solely to one song. Add onto that the fact that she’s been a working No. 1 artist in the last 27 years since the song came out, and it’s clear that the singer is sitting pretty on a pile of cash that’s sure to give her and her loved ones a very Merry Christmas every year.