I've been trying to preach the gospel of music publishing to artists, but there's nothing I could write that would have the same power as getting a peak at an artist's actual publishing report. Thankfully, Dogg Pound member and west coast legend Daz Dillinger took to Instagram last night to reveal that he's making nearly $1 million a year (or approximately $200K a quarter) off publishing money alone.
Click here to watch the video on IG
As a quick refresher, publishing is the money generated by the lyrics and melody that make up a song, not necessarily the song itself. So for example, Daz has a publishing split on "Ambitionz Az a Ridah," so in addition to a cut of direct sales of the song/album, he gets paid anytime that song appears in a movie/TV show or commercial, is played on the radio, is performed live, is quoted, is sampled, is covered by another artist, etc. So yes, that means Daz also gets paid any time Kanye's "Family Business" gets purchased or played.
And because he was one of only two songwriters on "Ambitionz," the other being Tupac, and the sole producer, the publishing percentages aren't divided between many people. (In contrast, take a song like Kanye's "All Day," where the songwriters had to split publishing 31 ways.) And boom, that's how you make $80K a year from a song that's not on your album and doesn't have your name on it.
That's why publishing can be so lucrative. Long after direct sales of a song or album have died down, having a publishing cut on a song means you can get big paydays even decades after the song was first released; hence his excitement for the release of the All Eyez on Me movie. So artists, while the business isn't as lucrative as it was in Daz' heyday (thanks Spotify), and not everyone's going to have the good fortune to land multiple legendary songs with multiple hip-hop legends, the lesson here is clear. If you're really all about that paper, you need to be all about that publishing.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.