Songwriter's Corner|

By Jason Rossi, Showbiz Cheat Sheet | Led Zeppelin made a fortune when they were an active band. How much did they earn? Enough for drummer John Bonham to pay $85,000 cash for a car just to spite the salesperson. The money didn’t stop flowing when the band broke up. A 2016 lawsuit highlighted how much Led Zeppelin earns from their music each year.

How much money does Led Zeppelin earn each year? Nearly $12 million per year over a 5-year stretch

Several bands credibly accused Led Zeppelin ripping off songs during their career. They had to give songwriting credits to blues musicians they copied a few times. It wasn’t surprising they got pinched. Led Zeppelin got so big they earned six figures at some concerts and toured in a private airplane. Other musicians wanted a piece of the pie if they could get it.

One of the bands that wanted a cut was Spirit. Their eerie instrumental “Taurus” included a passage that sounded very close to the “Stairway to Heaven” intro. Spirit’s song came first, and they said Led Zeppelin plagiarized them for “Stairway.” Hence the lawsuit.

A lawsuit that saw the band defending itself from Spirit’s copyright claims revealed how much money Led Zeppelin earns from its catalog in a year. An economist testified during a 2016 hearing that the band earned $58.5 million over the previous five years, per Billboard. That’s an average of $11.7 million each year.

Earning eight figures each year for decades-old songs doesn’t sound like such a bad gig. Of course, the band didn’t magically make money appear. Led Zeppelin had to put in the hard work to earn that much money, and they did. Zep’s work ethic impressed bassist John Paul Jones, even more so because they never had record label reps looking over their shoulder to keep them on task.
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Led Zeppelin made $2 million from 1 use of ‘Immigrant Song’

If we’re defining “Stairway to Heaven” as Led Zeppelin’s most recognizable tune, then “Immigrant Song” has to be No. 2. Just like the rest of their music, the band has continued to make money by carefully allowing it to be used in other media.

Jack Black successfully petitioned the band to let him use it in the movie School of Rock. The band earned a $2 million paycheck when director Taika Waititi used it in Thor: Ragnarok. An “Immigrant Song” snippet appeared in Shrek the Third.

Led Zeppelin surely earned a lucrative payday when Jimmy Page let P. Diddy use “Kashmir” in their 1990s collaboration for the Godzilla soundtrack.
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