As we know, 'Stairway to Heaven' regularly tops classic-rock countdowns for the greatest song ever made, and this hasn't changed with the digital boom - it also happens to be Led Zeppelin's most popular track on digital platforms.
A new ranking based on the revenue generated from consumer requests estimates that 'Stairway to Heaven', from the Led Zeppelin IV album, has earned the band close to $4.4 million NZD across the last 11 years.
Using data taken from Nielsen Media, Billboard computed online sales and on-demand streams of 94 Led Zeppelin songs from when their catalogue first became available on iTunes in November 2007 through to July 12, 2018. Streaming started in December 2015. Applying per-song rates based on whether it was purchased or streamed (in both audio and video formats), Billboard tabulated the results.
The study wanted to measure the popularity of each song with fans, so programmed streams, radio play, full-album sales and physical sales were not included in the data. It only considers the moments where a customer decided which song they wanted to play. Multiple recordings of the same song were not distinguished between, with all versions combined into one (eg. the original release, live takes, bonus tracks etc.)
As expected, 'Stairway to Heaven' came out way on top, earning the band $4,281,819.06 NZD. It more than doubled the earnings of the number 2 song, 'Kashmir', making the band $2,095,954.05 NZD. The lowest earnings song would be 'Swan Song', a Physical Graffiti outtake that was never officially released, only reworked into the Firm's 'Midnight Moonlight'. The song appears on YouTube as a bootleg.
Here are the top 10 songs and their earnings (USD):
- Stairway to Heaven - $2,903,223.42 ($4.2m NZD)
- Kashmir - $1,421,130.32 ($2.09m NZD)
- Immigrant Song - $1,306,140.94 ($1.9m NZD)
- Black Dog - $1,167,232.19 ($1.7m NZD)
- Whole Lotta Love - $1,034,129.29 ($1.5m NZD)
- Ramble On - $888,793.61 ($1.3m NZD)
- Over the Hills and Far Away - $757,125.57 ($1.1m NZD)
- Goin' to California - $694,689.56 ($1.02m NZD)
- Rock n' Roll - $636,985.97 ($939k NZD)
- D'yer Mak'er - $553,459.73 ($816k NZD)