Pharrell Williams earned less than $3,000 for 43 million "Happy" streams
by Tyler Munro
December 23, 2014
“Happy” was the inescapable hit of 2014, and while you probably hated having it so firmly ingrained in your head for, like, 11 straight months, you’ve gotta love dude’s hustle. It went triple platinum and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
But stunningly, its 40 million-plus plays on Pandora haven’t resulted in much of a profit, with Sony/ATV publisher Marty Bandier revealing that 43 million streams netted Williams and Sony only $2,700 in publisher and songwriting royalties.
That’s about $60 shared between publishers and songwriters for every one million song streams. As Bandier writes, “this is a totally unacceptable situation and one that cannot be allowed to continue,” and that’s coming from the publisher, not the songwriters.
Similarly, John Legend’s ode to his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, was streamed 55 million times in 2014’s first three months, but “All of Me” only brought in $3,400 in royalties.
Crunch the numbers for a minute, and you’ll find just how dire that really is.
At $60 per every 1 million streams, artists like Legend and Williams could barely afford a nice enough bottle of wine or scotch to celebrate the accomplishment. Granted, they’re not relying on services like Pandora and the like to support themselves, but a low rate is a low rate. And these? They’re the lowest we’ve seen.
Bandier, for his part, plans to make this problem a priority moving forward.
“These are extraordinary achievements that should not be overshadowed by what continues to be an unfair marketplace,” he wrote in a letter to his coworkers and employees. “[W]e are optimistic we will address this issue and help to create a better future for our songwriters.”
In case you somehow don’t still have “Happy” in your head, here it is. Below, read Bandier’s letter in full.
[h/t Digital Music News]