How much does Mariah Carey make from All I Want for Christmas is You each year?

Released in 1994, the pop star's song becomes the de facto festive anthem every year

Mariah Carey wrote All I Want for Christmas is You in 1994 with Walter Afanasieff. Photo: @mariahcarey / Instagram
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Mariah Carey is the undisputed “queen of Christmas”.

Every December, the singer's 1994 hit All I Want for Christmas is You returns to public consciousness as a de facto festive anthem, still climbing up global charts more than a quarter-century after it was released.

No one understands the value of this phenomena better than Carey herself, who usually starts her publicity juggernaut a day after Halloween. Carey, who co-wrote the earworm with Walter Afanasieff, ends the song’s hibernation with posts on social media that “it’s time” to play it again. This year, she emerged from a block of ice to make the declaration.

How many times has the song been streamed?

In 2019, the single, from Carey's first Christmas album, Merry Christmas, topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for the first time after 25 years. The song was back again at No 1 in 2020, and then in 2021.

“I know it's corny, and I don't care,” she told The New York Times. “I don't need something else to validate the existence of this song. I used to pick it apart whenever I listened to it, but at this point, I feel like I'm finally able to enjoy it.”

And it looks like the appeal of All I Want for Christmas is You is nowhere near fading.

In December 2022, Carey announced the song had been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify. She also shared a new animated lyric video of the song, adding to the myriad iterations now in existence, including a duet with Justin Bieber in 2011.

This year, Carey's promotional junket included the launch of a special Mariah Carey Barbie, as well as helping US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ring in the festive season at the White House.

How much does Mariah Carey make from All I Want for Christmas is You?

A 2017 report from The Economist estimates that Carey had earned more than $60 million from the track between its release in 1994 and 2016. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the song earns anywhere between $600,000 and $1 million in royalties each year.

This makes the song one of Carey’s biggest international hits, having topped the charts in 26 countries. It’s also the best-selling Christmas single by a female artist, and one of the best-selling singles in music history, with an overall estimated sale of more than 16 million copies.

Streaming is additional revenue source for artists. Apple pays an average play rate of $0.01, while Spotify says artists are paid up to two-thirds of every dollar they make from music streaming, according to However, it's unclear how much of Carey's streaming revenue is separate from her royalties.

Still, it's safe to say that Carey pockets millions every year from a song she wrote in 1994.

Billboard has produced lists of top seasonal hits since 2010, and All I Want for Christmas is You has been No 1 for 57 of the 62 weeks it has run, according to chart director Gary Trust.

Will Page, Spotify’s former chief economist and author of the book Pivot, told AP that he estimates the song will exceed $100 million in earnings this holiday season alone.

The not-so-jolly backstory

Despite its merry theme, Carey and Afanasieff have had a falling out.

Afanasieff, who worked with Carey on her albums Emotions and Music Box, told the Hot Takes & Deep Dives with Jess Rothschild podcast that his contributions have been written out of Carey's telling of the song's creation.

“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."

On Good Morning America last month, Carey said: "I was working on it by myself so I was writing on this little Casio keyboard, writing down words and thinking about, ’What do I think about Christmas? What do I love? What do I want? What do I dream of?

“And that’s what started it.”

– Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: December 24, 2023, 9:27 AM