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'Happy birthday' and the other top ten most lucrative songs in history


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'Happy birthday' and the other top ten most lucrative songs in history

The world’s most lucrative song may be free to use from as early as next month.

‘Happy Birthday to You’ has been embroiled in a decades-long legal dispute. In 1988, music publisher Warner/Chappell bought the rights for $22 million and has been making an estimated $2 million per year in licencing ever since.

However, in September 2015, a court ruling found the company didn’t own the song’s lyrics, just some of its musical arrangements.

In a settlement filed on February 8, Warner/Chappell agreed to pay $14 million to end the case challenging the rights to the birthday song.

US district judge George H King will be able to approve the settlement in March, making ‘Happy Birthday to You’ available to everyone.

Top ten grossing songs of all time

At number 10…

Mel Torme – ‘The Christmas Song’ (1944)

Estimated earnings: $19 million


At number 9…

Roy Orbison – ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ (1965)

Estimated earnings: $19.75 million


At number 8…

The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’ (1983)

Estimated earnings: $20.5 million


At number 7…

Haven Gillespie & Fred J Coots – ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ (1934)

Estimated earnings: $25 million


At number 6…

Ben E King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller – ‘Stand By Me’ (1961)

Estimated earnings: $27 million


At number 5…

Alex North & Hy Zaret – ‘Unchained Melody’ (1955)

Estimated earnings: $27.5 million


At number 4…

John Lennon and Paul McCartney – ‘Yesterday’ (1965)

Estimated earnings: $30 million


At number 3…

Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Specter – ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1964)

Estimated earnings: $32 million


At number 2…

Irving Berlin – ‘White Christmas’ (1940)

Estimated earnings: $36 million


At number 1…

Hill Sisters – ‘Happy Birthday to You’ (Good morning to all) (1893)

Estimated earnings: $50 million


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