Eamonn Forde
December 2016.

How much money do musicians and songwriters make over Christmas?

1 answer

Overall, the records that get the most airplay in the year and, therefore, the most revenue from PPL year in and year out are the current hits. They have 12 months of airplay and are on rotation a huge amount. In that context, Christmas is only a twelfth of the year. But obviously the concentration of airplay means it is worth more than that in proportional terms. 

PPL licences the performance, so we look after the record company and the performers. Hugh Grant's character in ‘About A Boy’ is doing well because he owns the publishing rights to a Christmas song. As to whether you can make a decent living off one Christmas song, that depends on what your average rock or pop star classes as a decent living. 

If you have the publishing rights because you’ve written the song that you also perform, it's a win/win – you get both bits of the cake. That can be a significant part of their overall income. That said, a lot of the people on our list are recording artists with a broader catalogue anyway. Mariah Carey will get a lot from her Christmas track, but equally she has a big body of work around here that keeps earning. PPL also pays every performer who plays on the recording. This is not just about Noddy Holder or George Michael earning money here; it's about all the performers on those tracks such as the other members of Slade or the additional session musicians. 

How many plays would a song get over Christmas? It's not loads, loads, loads because it happens in that concentrated period. These Christmas songs, the ones that make the PPL Christmas Chart, are not necessarily competing against the songs that are getting played six or seven times a day. A Christmas song on our chart wouldn't get as many plays as a song that has been number one in our chart for the whole year.