Not long ago, LadBaby achieved his fifth consecutive Christmas Number One with a cover of ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ featuring numerous mentions of his beloved sausage rolls. A musical classic, it is not., and neither could this claim be attributed to his previous four chart-toppers—something LadBaby would no doubt agree with. Most people are aware that these records are fundraising products.
LadBaby’s charity of choice is The Trussell Trust, which operates 1,200 food banks across the UK. Whilst this organisation has been the sole beneficiary of the profits from LadBaby’s singles over the last four years, the proceeds from the fifth single are also being shared with the Band Aid Trust.
When LadBaby (real name Mark Hoyle) and his wife, Roxanne, launched their first charity single five years ago, they received plenty of praise for their efforts. Given that we’re currently experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, you’d think that the release of their fifth charity track would be lauded more than ever; after all, the demand for support from food banks has risen approximately 46% in the last year alone. As I mentioned in this article, there are now more food banks than branches of McDonald’s in the UK, which, given how common and widespread the fast food outlets are across the country, is no mean feat.
However, it seems the public’s support for their fundraising cover singles has waned. I’ve noticed a LOT of posts recently about their accounting, and how much money purportedly goes to the Trussell Trust. The Trust has confirmed that £305,000 has been donated by LadBaby over the last four years, but some people feel this is on the low side, considering how much Christmas Number One singles typically make (up to a million pounds in turnover).
It’s worth noting that the royalty revenue from classic Christmas tunes amount to more because they’re played on the radio/TV over and over from the end of November. LadBaby’s tunes are not played anywhere near as often; they’re predominantly downloaded as a method of donation by those purchasing—not because the buyers intend to play the tune on loop throughout the festive period. Money, therefore, comes purely from downloads/sales and not repeated radio play. This makes a big difference.
I’ve seen a certain level of vitriol for the couple, which is hugely unfair if their critics are misinformed. As with any charitable funding/donations, LadBaby must legally be transparent with how the revenue from his singles is spent. It’s important to remember that it’s only the profit from the songs that’s donated to the Trussell Trust. Given that LadBaby’s songs aren’t original and are all covers with a slight tweak, there won’t be much to come to the couple in way of royalties, and from this pot of money, the producer of the single, the recording studio, the photographer, designer, promoters and distributors all need to be paid. These professionals may have also agreed to donate their fee to charity, but they’re not obliged to do this. We’ve all got bills to pay.
Some people have gone further, and scrutinised LadBaby’s accounts at Companies House with a fine toothed comb. It’s clear that his earnings have risen over the last five years, but this doesn’t point to him pocketing money that’s been donated in good faith to support food banks. The fact that he has had so many Christmas Number ones has increased his visibility, particularly online, and he has merchandise, advertising revenue and paid collaborations that also contribute to the family’s income. This is an admittedly beneficial by-product of his altruism, but he did get off his backside and put himself out there in aid of a cause close to his heart—how many of us could say the same? Should we therefore begrudge him the associated notoriety that comes from being a familiar face and brand when Christmas comes around?
This echoes my musings on the salaries of charity CEOs. To most people who don’t work in the third sector, it may seem obscene to see those running huge charitable organisations, such as Cancer Research or the RSPCA, on seven figure wages. Follow the link to see why I defended their remuneration. Believe me, if charities were to only ‘employ’ volunteers, the vast majority of them wouldn’t exist. And, given that so many charitable organisations fill the gaps that a lack of public funding has left, our country would be in a much, much worse position than it is now. Just because a good cause is at the heart of a registered charity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t incur wages, rent, marketing costs, utility bills or the same business costs as any other company.