LED ZEPPELIN Catalog Tops $21M Digitally; All Songs Ranked By Revenue Generated
January 10, 2019, 8 months ago
To coincide with Led Zeppelin's 50th anniversary, as well as guitarist Jimmy Page’s 75th birthday (January 9th), Billboard has ranked the Led Zeppelin catalog, song by song, based on revenue generated by digital activity since the band’s music first became available at download stores like iTunes and on-demand services like Spotify. (The methodology on how this ranking was compiled is explained in the post.)
Says Billboard: "But it's important to note that while revenue serves as the basis of the ranking, Billboard only counted revenue where the consumer made a choice, either by downloading a song or playing a stream on-demand. That means that other revenue generators - where professionals make choices like which songs to play on the radio, or which song to put in a TV show or to physically release as a single - were not considered, because the consumer wasn’t involved in those choices.
"Therefore, this list is a true gauge of the popularity of the songs within the band’s catalog, because the Zeppelin fans’ actions generated the revenue upon which this ranking is based. Here now is Billboard’s ranking of the most popular Led Zeppelin songs as voted on by US consumers with their time and money, with an observation or two about each of the 94 songs - total revenue generated: $21,607,542.71 - in the band’s catalog."
1. "Stairway To Heaven"
Total Revenue: $2,903,223.42
It's no surprise that this is the top revenue generator for Led Zeppelin, as it's without a doubt the band’s most well-known song. While for years it might have received too much airplay on FM radio, nowadays its plays are way down - about 22,000 spins so far this year, versus a song like Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You,” with 739,000 spins year-to-date, according to Nielsen Music - which means that it's a pleasure when it comes on the air. Spirit claimed its song “Taurus” was infringed by "Stairway," but a court ruled in Zep’s favor in June 2016, although an appeals court partially vacated that decision due to improper jury instructions and remanded the case for a new trial. While the acoustic melody in the early passages of "Stairway" is slightly reminiscent of "Taurus," when Zep's opus goes full-blown electric and grows into other melodic stages, the resemblance is naught. If Zeppelin did borrow its acoustic part from the same place that "Taurus" gets its guitar melody - as was argued during the first trial - Zeppelin’s use of it in "Stairway" certainly seems transformative. (Also, "Taurus" is a completely forgettable song, while "Stairway" has already proved itself to be a song for the ages.)
Early on, almost a year before the song came out, there was a small story in Circus magazine that hinted at the song, talking about how the song was going to build as the melody grows and could be as long as 15 minutes. Around the same time, Page and Plant were talking about creating a song that would live forever like Beethoven’s 5th, a hint of what was coming. Certainly, "Stairway," on the band's most popular album, IV (aka ZOSO), is their best shot at that.
View the full list at Billboard.com.