There's this English lady, Adele, you might have heard of her. She's the one who dropped that 25 album that sold over 3 million copies in its first week and has sold over 15 million copies to date. It was kind of a big deal.
Crucially, Adele and company elected to keep the album off streaming services like Spotify, which meant that they were making that good old physical sale money (about $11 per album) instead of that paltry new streaming money (about $0.006 per stream). That meant that not only did Adele and her label make some serious coin coming off album sales, but so did the songwriters and producers who worked on 25. How much exactly?
Exactly...we don't know. Everyone has different individual deals that we're don't know unless WikiLeaks decides to start taking an interest in the music industry, but Billboard magazine made some pretty good estimates based off industry standards (even splits among co-writers, 85-to-15 percent split for publishing, four percent per track for producers) and the results are revealing:
- Greg Kurstin, songwriter-producer on "Hello": $2,433,000
- Paul Epwroth, songwriter-producer on "I Miss You": $818,000
- Ryan Tedder, songwriter-producer on "Remedy": $532,000
- Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), songwriter-producer on "River Lea": $521,000
- Samuel Dixon, songwriter-producer "Love in the Dark: $494,000
- Tobias Jesso, Jr., songwriter "Lay Me Down": $383,000
- Max Martin, songwriter-producer "Send My Love": $321,000
- Karl Johan Schuster, songwriter-producer "Send My Love": $321,000
- Ariel Rechtstaid, producer "Why Do You Love Me": $306,000
- Phillip Lawrence, songwriter-producer "All I Ask": $229,000
- Bruno Mars, songwriter-producer "All I Ask": $211,000
- Linda Perry, songwriter-producer "Can't Let Go": $101,000
- Christopher Brody Brown (aka Not Chris Brown the Famous Guy), songwriter "All I Ask": $86,000
- Ari Levine, producer "All I Ask": $83,000
- Rick Nowels, songwriter "Why Do You Love Me": $55,000
- Mark Ronson, producer "Lay Me Down": $45,000
In other words, it pays to work with Adele. Put in the context of what we recently learned about 50 Cent's monthly royalties, about $30,000 a month, we can really see just how big of a gap there is between Adele and everyone else. She's putting the kind of numbers on the board that nearly every other artist on the planet can't even fathom. Even for other big hits songs, it's impossible to think that a songwriter and producer would make over $2 million like Greg Kurstin did for "Hello." And yes, that means Kurstin, a guy you've never heard off, is making more money off music than 90 percent of the artists with their names on the front of the album.
It's tempting to see the financial results of 25 as proof that the music industry needs to shut down their participation in streaming services and go back purely to physical sales, especially as songwriters and producers face a world where they're making essentially nothing off streaming royalties, but Adele is the exception, and making the exception the rule is always dangerous. The lesson of 25 was not that people want to buy CDs and albums again. It's that people want an Adele album so bad they'll even buy it on CD if they have no other choice, and that's a lesson that can't really be applied to anyone except Adele.
Oh, and the other lesson here is forget trying to sign a record deal for yourself. If you're a musician and you're really all about that paper, I suggest you devote 200% of your energy towards getting in a room with Adele and cranking out some hits. See, the music industry's not really that complicated.
How hard could that be?
[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]