New List Ranks Led Zeppelin‘s Biggest Digital Earners

Ever wonder how much Led Zeppelin is raking in each year with from digital downloads and streaming services? Billboard has posted Nielsen Music’s tally of the Zeppelin catalogue from the moment the band’s catalogue first went digital, compiling the data between November 2007 and in streams in December 2015, both through July 12th, 2018. Billboard posted the 94-song list is “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.” One thing the list, which includes YouTube plays, does not clarify is which specific version of each song — studio, live, or outtake — has been chosen for the ranking.

Zeppelin’s top earner in the digital field is “Stairway To Heaven” ($2,903,223.42), followed by “Kashmir” ($1,421,130.32), with “Immigrant Song” ($1,306,140.94) coming in at Number Three. Number Four goes to “Black Dog” ($1,167,232.19), with the Top five rounded out by “Whole Lotta Love” ($1,034,129.29).

Interestingly, the final song on the list — coming in at Number 94 — is “Swan Song,” a 1974 outtake from the sessions for the following year’s Physical Graffiti album. The tune, which made the list earning a paltry $241.20 is due to its appearance on YouTube. As most fans know, the instrumental track, which was conceived by Jimmy Page as part of an unfinished suite, found its way into some of Page’s riffs used during the Zeppelin’s final shows in 1980. In 1983, during the historic ARMS tour, portions of “Swan Song” popped up in the tune “Bird On A Wing” performed at the shows, before finally morphing into the 1985 Firm track “Midnight Moonlight.”

Jimmy Page explained that the members of Led Zeppelin both found themselves and came into their own by joining forces: [“There is some, like, divine intervention at this point that must bring us all together, because John Bonham, for example, wasn’t even known down in London, he was only known locally; although I saw him play with Tim Rose in London. And he played, but he never had the chance to play drums like John Bonham was going to play in Led Zeppelin. And John Paul Jones — a fine session musician and he’d done some arranging — but he never had the chance to show what John Paul Jones could do until he was in Led Zeppelin. And the same with Robert Plant.”] SOUNDCUE (:31 OC: . . . with Robert Plant)

Bassist John Paul Jones had a hand in writing a number of the songs featured on the list, and shed light on the process he used to write the band’s fourth-biggest earner on the digital platforms — 1971’s “Black Dog’: [“My favorite way of writing is to take a piece of. . . a little pad, manuscript pad and — or maybe a recorder, sometimes, but I like to get notes down. I like to get an original idea down. If you can get it down as accurately as possible, usually it’s the best one. I mean in the Zeppelin days ‘Black Dog’ was written like that, on a train with a piece of paper. And a notation system my dad showed me, where you use the values of the notes and just put little numbers underneath, like one to seven from the scale and plus and minus for flat and sharp, and just write it up and come back and figure it out and then put it out on disc these days (laughs) — tape in those days.”] SOUNDCUE (:32 OC: . . . tape in those days)

Robert Plant recently chatted with Australia’s The Project TV show and recalled how Led Zeppelin’s massively framed six-foot-five-inch late-manager Peter Grant actually held up cue cards for him: [“It’s a long song (laughter), okay? And I also know that I have a little bit of trouble remembering lyrics — this was back in ’72, ’73. So, our manager, who was quite a formidable personality, he’d come to the front of the stage in the middle of it all and he’d have the lyrics, just going — like that Bob Dylan thing (during the promo for ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues.’) Anyway, it was very funny. I can’t remember what verse goes where. I know there’s something about ‘bustle in the hedgerow’ and then all that stuff. . . The conjecture around that song is hysterical.”] SOUNDCUE (:28 OC: . . . song is hysterical)

Top 20 Led Zeppelin songs via Nielsen Music tally of digital streaming services:

1. “Stairway To Heaven” ($2,903,223.42)
2. “Kashmir” ($1,421,130.32)
3. “Immigrant Song” ($1,306,140.94)
4. “Black Dog” ($1,167,232.19)
5. “Whole Lotta Love” ($1,034,129.29)
6. “Ramble On” ($888,793.61)
7. “Over The Hills And Far Away” ($757,125.57)
8. “Goin’ To California” ($694,689.56)
9. “Rock And Roll” ($636,985.97)
10. “D’yer Mak’er” ($553,459.73)
11. “When The Levee Breaks” ($547,514.60)
12. “All My Love” ($536,716.87)
13. “Fool In The Rain” ($497,152.94)
14. “Good Times, Bad Times” ($484,799.06)
15. “Dazed And Confused” ($443,730.10)
16. “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” ($407,165.31)
17. “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” ($383,439.92)
18. “The Ocean” ($356,840.76)
19. “Heartbreaker” ($347,498.72)
20. “Misty Mountain Hop” ($306,642.32)

For the complete list, log on to: http://bit.ly/2shA4oh