Roy Orbison and The Righteous Brothers are among artists who have accumulated huge sums of wealth through royalties from their most popular songs.
A new documentary on BBC Four explains the method behind royalty payments and reveals the Top 10 highest-earning songs in music history.
Heading the list is 'Happy Birthday To You', which has been owned by Warner Chappell since 1990 and has earned the company £30 million.
The Beatles' popular track 'Yesterday' - which was famously written by and solely performed by Paul McCartney - lands at number four on the list, while The Police are at eight with 'Every Breath You Take'.
The Richest Songs In The World aired on BBC Four on Friday, December 28 and is currently available to stream on the iPlayer until January 5, 2013.
The Top 10 highest-earning songs are as follows:
1. 'Happy Birthday To You', Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill/Warner Chappell
2. 'White Christmas', Irving Berlin
3. 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', The Righteous Brothers
4. 'Yesterday', The Beatles
5. 'Unchained Melody', Alex North and Hy Zaret/The Righteous Brothers
6. 'Stand By Me', Ben E. King / Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller
7. 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town', John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie
8. 'Every Breath You Take', The Police
9. 'Pretty Woman', Roy Orbison
10. 'The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)', Mel Torme/Nat King Cole
Watch The Beatles perform 'Yesterday' live in Tokyo below: