I’m by no means a Parrothead, but for sheer fun-time sing-a-long-ability, it’s hard to beat Margaritaville, right down to the now terrifically anachronistic reference to cutting your foot by stepping on a pop-top. (Those of us of a certain age will remember barefoot tip-toeing around at the beach, always on the lookout for one of those detachable aluminum pop-tops with their tremendous ability to give your foot a nice bloody slice. Forget sliced bread. One of the greatest inventions of all time was the undetachable pop-top.)
Truly, is there anyone who doesn’t get a smile on his or her face when they hear the opening chords of Margaritaville on some oldies station? Who doesn’t blast the radio – or turn up the volume just a teensy-weensy bit – and sing along?
What I was unaware of, however, is just how very BIG the Margaritaville brand is.
As characterized by Business Week, Margaritaville is “the most lucrative song ever.”
Which is not to say it’s the “Richest Song in the World.”
Last year, the BBC pulled together the Top Ten list of songs that, as songs, have brought in the most money over time.
First on the list: Happy Birthday, which is pretty amazing when you consider that, while it is understandably the most sung song of all time, very few of us actually pay a royalty when we sing it.
Here’s the full list, by the way:
- 'Happy Birthday To You', Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill/Warner Chappell
- 'White Christmas', Irving Berlin
- 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', The Righteous Brothers
- 'Yesterday', The Beatles
- 'Unchained Melody', Alex North and Hy Zaret/The Righteous Brothers
- 'Stand By Me', Ben E. King / Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller
- 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town', John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie
- 'Every Breath You Take', The Police
- 'Pretty Woman', Roy Orbison
- 'The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)', Mel Torme/Nat King Cole
Who would of thunk that the Righteous Brothers would grab two places, and the Beatles only one? Or that Every Breath and Pretty Woman would make the cut? Great songs, both, but if I’d have guessed, I’d have put In My Life and I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You or I Will Always Love You ahead of them.
Anyway, if Happy Birthday and White Christmas get more plays, when it comes to brand-sploitation, Margaritaville represents entirely different changes in magnitude.
Margaritaville isn’t just a song, it’s an enterprise. Or, rather, enterprises.
Margaritaville Enterprises, founded in 2006 and based in Orlando, sells everything from beachwear to furniture and also oversees at least one Caribbean island resort, two American resorts, and four casinos. You can buy Margaritaville rum and combine it with a Margaritaville drink mixer in your very own Margaritaville blender that costs $349.99. According to the Orlando Business Journal, the company brought in at least $100 million in revenue in 2007. As a private company, Margaritaville doesn’t release information about its holdings, but by all accounts it has only expanded since then. (Source: Business Week.)
That expansion includes the 27th Margaritaville outpost, which opened recently in Atlantic City.
The $35 million, 40,000-square-foot complex houses two restaurants, multiple bars, a beach-themed casino, and several breezy, laid-back retail stores—all tucked away in a larger gambling mecca called Resorts.
All I can say is: wow!
Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson – lucrative songbooks, lucrative franchises (especially, for some weird reason, Michael Jackson), but nothing like this. The Margaritaville empire is more akin to Star Wars than it is to You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Houndog or Love Me Do, that’s for sure.
Pretty good for someone who’s a four-hit wonder. I’m sure Parrotheads will disagree, but I looked at his top-tunes list, and the only other ones I recognized were Come Monday, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, and the quite wonderful – even if he don’t want to go to no Buzzards Bay - Volcano.
Weather he’s the greatest songster of all time or not, Jimmy Buffet sure has a good parrothead for business on his shoulders.
Must not have been doing all that much wasting away in Margaritaville.