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Every Penny You Make
January 6, 2014 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Sting makes $2,000 a day because Puffy Daddy and his record label didn't bother clearing the rights when they sampled "Every Breath You Take" for "I'll Be Missing You." Even though Andy Summers wrote the guitar line that you hear. It's still a sensitive subject.
posted by goatdog (126 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kanye negelecting to clear smaples for Bound 2 sounds like it'll be super expensive too.
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on January 6


So Puff Daddy is a fool and Sting is an asshole. Fun times. Hopefully the Ponderosa twins album gets re-released because that thing is like raw young Jackson five.

This is why one should keep ones rights, I feel for Andy. That's sucky.
posted by dabitch at 5:40 PM on January 6


I believe he's Puff Daddy, or P-Diddy, unless he's recently gone heavy on the carbs.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:40 PM on January 6 [31 favorites]


I guess that's better than if Diddy got the money for lifting the recording wholesale like that. But it's lame that Sting didn't share writing credits with Copeland and Summers. Writing the riff should, in my opinion, merit a portion of the songwriting credit. That's all a matter for Sing and the others to have worked out at the time, obviously. But still. Lame.
posted by The World Famous at 5:42 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


The article suggests that Sting makes $750k a year off "Every Breath You Take" in toto, not just the royalties on "I'll Be Missing You."
posted by MattD at 5:42 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Why does this make Sting an asshole?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:43 PM on January 6


Why does this make Sting an asshole?

It's the tantric sex.
posted by xmutex at 5:45 PM on January 6 [28 favorites]


Jesus, that Puff Daddy song is the glurgiest piece of shit to ever not get flushed, which makes the pile of cash it's making Sting even more of some weird kind of cosmic entropy.
posted by planetesimal at 5:45 PM on January 6 [17 favorites]


That's probably just enough to cover his oil bill. Kama Sutra oil that is.
posted by nowhere man at 5:45 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Why does this make Sting an asshole?

Did you read the conversation at the end of the article?
posted by dabitch at 5:45 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Here's the full interview with the Police from 2000 referenced in the article. In context, it just sounds like they're joking around. The interview continues for some time after the quoted section.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on January 6 [16 favorites]


Why does this make Sting an asshole?

You've got the causation backwards. He should have seen to it at the time when the royalties were divvied up that they were divided appropriately - unless there was some agreement otherwise, which very well may be the case.
posted by The World Famous at 5:46 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Ah, thanks Fresh.
posted by dabitch at 5:47 PM on January 6


Sting makes $2,000 a day because Puffy Daddy and his record label didn't bother clearing the rights when they sampled "Every Breath You Take" for "I'll Be Missing You."
The $2,000 doesn't seem to be what he "makes" every day; it's what he has made on the average day over the past 20 years. I sincerely doubt he "makes $2,000 a day" off of it. Moreover, it's for Every Breath You Take as a whole, not for the Puff Daddy sampling of it.
posted by Flunkie at 5:47 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Hahahaha Puffy Daddy.

Then, jealous. I'd make him send me $2K in ones and roll around in a pile of it every damn day.
posted by discopolo at 5:48 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Well, Summers tainted an otherwise near perfect album with "Mother", so we'll call things even.
posted by davebush at 5:48 PM on January 6 [23 favorites]


If you wanna be really particular about it, the guitar part is an arpeggiation of a chord progression that is commoner than dirt. I'm not sure who should be getting $2K/day for thinking up going 'tonic--relative minor--dominant', but I'm pretty sure it's not anybody in The Police.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:48 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Summers tainted an otherwise near perfect album with "Mother"

*jumps up gleefully*

TESTIFY!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


It's the tantric sex.

I hear he can last six, seven hours. Even more with a partner.
posted by thelonius at 5:57 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Well, Summers tainted an otherwise near perfect album with "Mother", so we'll call things even.

"Mother" is awesome.

Puff Daddy is just lucky he didn't lose the rights to his own song like happened to the "Bitter Sweet Symphony" guy.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:58 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I believe he's Puff Daddy, or P-Diddy, unless he's recently gone heavy on the carbs.

Stay Puffy Marshmallow Daddy

What did you do, Ray.
posted by phaedon at 5:59 PM on January 6 [25 favorites]


The interview that His thoughts were red thoughts links to above is really pretty funny.
posted by Flunkie at 6:01 PM on January 6


Summers tainted an otherwise near perfect album with "Mother"

Someone got Mommy issues. Let this poor boy be.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:02 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


"Mother" is awesome.

It's OK, but it's no "Miss Gradenko"
posted by thelonius at 6:04 PM on January 6 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I don't have any steam in me to defend Sting, but they're just throwing jabs in that interview because they are grizzled old assholes who like to scrap.
posted by planetesimal at 6:04 PM on January 6


I'm sticking with Puffy Daddy. Puffy with ire.
posted by goatdog at 6:11 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


The music business just sucks anyway.

But knowing how it works, legally Sting deserves the money. But seeing as how Famous Performers demand-and get-song credit on songs they sing even if all they change is a word or two (if that)....morally, that guitar player deserves something.

But hey, life isn't fair.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:11 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Sting: Okay Andy here's all the money [pours some change on the table]. Unfortunately, I've spent the rest of it.

Money sure turns people into assholes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:11 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Blazecock, that comment comes from a conversation that is this serious:

Sting: Yes, as a matter of fact, we were trying to influence Nirvana. That was the whole idea. I said, 'I'm going to influence this band in Seattle. I know the members are only about seven years old at the moment, but still..."

Summers: We always clearly demarcated the lines between the chorus and the verses. The choruses were played harder. I would sometimes stuff cloth under the strings for the softer parts, and we'd throw in 9ths and 10ths, or...

Copeland: Stop them! They're talking technical musical stuff. It's a classic exclusion technique, just because I'm a drummer.

Sting: Stewart, those are called "notes".

posted by straight at 6:17 PM on January 6 [40 favorites]


But knowing how it works, legally Sting deserves the money.

'Entitled to'. Not 'deserves'. Summers deserves the Puff Daddy money by any reasonable measure (at least IMO) - he did the work that was sampled.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:18 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Blazecock, that comment comes from a conversation that is this serious: ...

There's also this bit from the interview:

Summers: You want to hear an oxymoron? Musical drummer!

Copeland: Hey Andy. What do you throw at a drowning guitarist? His amp!

Sting: What has three legs and a c***? A drum stool!

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:21 PM on January 6 [13 favorites]


And this:

Revolver: 'Invisible Sun' was another song that was banned by the BBC - at least the video was - and which was about the troubles in Northern Ireland. Ironically, it's probably your most optimistic song.

Sting: I actually wrote the song in Ireland, where I was living at the time. It was during the hunger strikes in Belfast. I wanted to write about that but I wanted to show some light at the end of the tunnel. I do think there has to be an 'invisible sun'. You can't always see it, but there has to be something radiating light into our lives.

Copeland: For me, the song was about Beirut, where I'd grown up, which at that point was going up in flames. My hometown was being vilified by the media as a terrorist stronghold, and it was being blasted by bombs and napalm. Twenty thousand Lebanese were killed that year. And the Lebanese must have been feeling some heat from the invisible sun, because they were keeping their peckers up.

Sting: Is that what your drumming was all about?

Copeland: That's what the tom-toms were expressing, yeah. The snare drum was about a whole different thing - namely, 'Am I going to get laid tonight'?


Stewart Copeland's pretty funny.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:22 PM on January 6 [30 favorites]


Songwriting royalties are given to whoever writes the basis of song, not necessarily who comes up with a well-known instrumental part. There are plenty of reasons to be annoyed by Sting, but I don't think this is one of them.
posted by jonathanhughes at 6:24 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Treacherous Harkonnen!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:24 PM on January 6 [37 favorites]


You can get a good sense of Copeland's importance to the Police's arrangements by comparing the Police recording of "Shadows In The Rain", which is angular and mysterious, with the version from Sting's "Dream Of The Blue Turtles", which supposedly sounds about what the demo that The Police started from was like. The Sting version is a conventional blues shuffle, with altered changes, and it's a nice song, but pretty forgettable.
posted by thelonius at 6:29 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


One can only wonder what The Winstons are owed for the amen break.
posted by probu at 6:30 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Songwriting royalties are given to whoever writes the basis of song, not necessarily who comes up with a well-known instrumental part. There are plenty of reasons to be annoyed by Sting, but I don't think this is one of them.

This is the case. Chord progression and words get the credit.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:35 PM on January 6


Songwriting royalties are given to whoever writes the basis of song, not necessarily who comes up with a well-known instrumental part.

Not necessarily. The legal niceties of songwriting royalties depend on people agreeing as to what the splits should be. They get divided up by percentage - sometimes with the biggest share going to the person who wrote the melody, the lyrics, whatever and then divided among others. It's a negotiated, agreed-upon thing, so it's not at all uncommon for people who had absolutely no hand in the songwriting process to have a cut or even to be the only name on the album sleeve even though others have a share. For example, Michael McDonald apparently owns the bulk of the songwriting credit on "I'll Wait" by Van Halen, even though he is not credited anywhere on the liner notes (imagine him singing that song and suddenly it all makes sense).

I have songwriting credit on songs where my primary contribution was the main guitar riff or only the instrumental parts, as well as songs where I wrote, played, and produced a lot of the instrumental parts but didn't write any of the lyrics or melody. It's pretty common.

Based on my own limited experience in songwriting and in the music industry, it really surprises me that Summers doesn't own any of "Every Breath You Take."
posted by The World Famous at 6:39 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


The amen break is interesting, the Winstons didn't lawyer up regarding their rights, and because other people re-created it and sold it on sampling CD's and in drum kits and whatnot, the Winstons didn't make money on it but other people have identical sounding breaks copyrighted and made money on it. See this 18 minute clip about it.
posted by dabitch at 6:40 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Nowhere near the travesty that is the Bittersweet Symphony rights situation.
posted by kmz at 6:42 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


"Chord progression and words get the credit." Yes, as if Ginger Baker didn't manically explode-create music styles, that still echo in all of our lives.
posted by dabitch at 6:45 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Summers tainted an otherwise near perfect album with "Mother"

...

TESTIFY!


I think this song demands a falopify.
posted by zippy at 6:53 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Puff Daddy is still cashing those Puff Pastry checks.
posted by Sphinx at 6:54 PM on January 6


"Chord progression and words get the credit."

which is a special kind of bullshit in this day and age, many decades removed from the era when sheet music was what got sold (and when they made the rules). So yeah, Sting's legally in the right, which doesn't mean he's not an asshole.

I know two people who've spent time with Sting. One said he was an asshole (snorting lots of coke at the time). The other said he was genuinely nice guy (an interview situation). Conclusion: Sting's an asshole at least some of the time, according to at least one person.
posted by philip-random at 7:00 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I don't know why exactly but I really, really want Sting to not be an asshole.

Mostly because LUTES
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:10 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Songwriting royalties are given to whoever writes the basis of song, not necessarily who comes up with a well-known instrumental part.

yeah...no. i mean, sure, sometimes. but songwriting credits are given often based on contract. there have been many well publicized stories of producer and songwriter credits going to all sorts of people who showed up after the song was completed and just signed their name to it. a lot of these are approached in a, "well if you want to work with xyz artist, they will take a songwriting credit."
posted by nadawi at 7:21 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


"Mother" is a great song; Andy Summers is a goddamned genius; Puff Daddy sucks and has always sucked; Sting is a raving egomaniac cokehead, but he is also an extremely talented raving egomaniac cokehead; and Stewart Copeland WAS The Police. Also, I have many more opinions concerning The Police.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:23 PM on January 6 [24 favorites]


^ Yes!

"You're five zippers away from Thriller."
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:26 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


It amazes me that Kanye used a sample without clearing the rights. Actually, that anybody failed to do that after "Can't Touch This" is a testament to our collective inability to learn.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:27 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


That's probably just enough to cover his oil bill. Kama Sutra oil that is.

I read that in the voice of Jerry Scoggins singing the Beverly Hillbillies theme song.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:34 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Stewart Copeland's pretty funny.

Don't care.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:35 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


One time while planning to paint a fence adjacent to a sidewalk, I printed off a bunch of "wet paint" signs with pictures of MC Hammer that also said "U Can't Touch This." All of my custom wet paint signs were stolen. This would be the music industry in a nutshell, except there was no coke involved.
posted by peeedro at 7:35 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


and Stewart Copeland WAS The Police.

For me, it was the last minute or so of Message In A Bottle. The basic song (melody, lyrics) I fast grew tired of, but that last minute or so when Mr. Copeland took charge and forced pop in directions it generally didn't go -- well, that warmed my heart. Still does.
posted by philip-random at 8:12 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Wait. I thought this article referenced in the story and linked to above was also the subject of an FPP from April we assumed was fake. So it is real?
posted by sourwookie at 8:22 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I hear he can last six, seven hours. Even more with a partner.


All I can think of is this.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:36 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Conclusion: Sting's an asshole at least some of the time

Welcome to the human race, Sting. You'll fit right in.
posted by straight at 8:38 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Good for Sting! Screw Combs.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:40 PM on January 6


Reading the comments from that prior FPP lands me in the "real" column. Crap that Diddy song was an insult to Biggie in its cloying sentimentality and unoriginality, and Combs didn't even pen the words, and supposedly didn't start paying the writer for a couple of years. A harbinger of things to come as Jay-Z began to "honor" Biggie by systematically biting his rhymes all over place.
posted by lordaych at 8:46 PM on January 6


that's like a dollar for every breath diddy takes.

every little Sting he does is magic.
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:48 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Sting: We don't have fucking chateaus in Italy, they're called palazzos.
wow.
posted by variella at 8:49 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Châteaux. Palazzi.

That is all.
posted by Wolof at 9:15 PM on January 6 [16 favorites]


I watched a not very good documentary (The Richest Songs in the World IMDB) which touched on the issue of Sting receiving the royalities from I'll be Missing You. They interviewed Summers who (from memory) said that yes, the only thing you hear in P Diddy's song is his guitar playing but the lick would not be famous and worth sampling if not for Sting, so Sting deserved some credit. Summers said that he called up Sting and they came to an arrangement about the whole thing, he did not sound bitter so I imagine money changed hands.
posted by AndrewStephens at 9:33 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Sting: We don't have fucking chateaus in Italy, they're called palazzos.

wow.


such doge

very music

wow
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:56 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


and Stewart Copeland WAS The Police

I almost took up drums way too late in life because Copeland made me realize that the drums COULD be the lead instrument. Whoever above mentioned the drums in Message in a Bottle is dead on. I would listen to those riffs under Sting's repetition of the lyric at the end of every verse, "Message in a bottle...." over and over. Especially the last verse through with the excellent syncopation heading into the cymbal shot. Just stunning. Just wanted to play drums so I could play that.
posted by umberto at 10:19 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


I remember that interview at the time and I'm pretty sure it was a fake by someone who knew the band's history backwards. Still great either way.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:40 PM on January 6


I read this on the newsstand when it was printed. Not a fake.
posted by thelonius at 11:49 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite +] [!]


Against that, from the April thread. And faking an entire interview between three multimillionaires would be ballsy.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:44 PM on January 6


I don't think I've forgiven Sting for lecturing ad nauseam we common people about the environment while he maintained several homes, jetted about in private aircraft etc etc.

See also: Bono
posted by MuffinMan at 11:08 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Yes he should have bicycled you are correct.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:19 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Yeah it was in Q or some other islander music mag. Plus it's republished on The Police official site. I BELIEVE.
posted by thelonius at 1:19 AM on January 7


Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers are great -- I Advance Masked, for example, is one of the best records you'll ever hear -- but the Police were singer-songwriter Sting's band. (And Puff Daddy only killed the animal and paraded about in its skin.)
posted by pracowity at 1:38 AM on January 7


In origin, it was indeed Copeland's band
posted by thelonius at 1:51 AM on January 7


But the article fails to also mention that the entire sung chorus part of "I'll be Missing You" in the Puff Daddy song is also a direct copy of the melody and 90% of the lyrics from syings original Every Breath You Take.

Whilst the Puff Dadddy chorus doesn't sample Sting - it was clearly "inspired" by it. I suspect that this was also a factor in Stings payments from the Puff Daddy song.
posted by mary8nne at 2:09 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


So it took a Sting to make him Puffy?
posted by chavenet at 4:15 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Peanuts!!!

Peeeeeeeeeeanuuuuuts!

*honk* *honk* *squeak* . . *tootle*
posted by petebest at 5:09 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


But the article fails to also mention that the entire sung chorus part of "I'll be Missing You" in the Puff Daddy song is also a direct copy of the melody and 90% of the lyrics from syings original Every Breath You Take.
Whilst the Puff Dadddy chorus doesn't sample Sting - it was clearly "inspired" by it. I suspect that this was also a factor in Stings payments from the Puff Daddy song.


Yes, the fact that the whole sung chorus is copied from Every Breath You Take would presumably have given Sting's lawyers grounds to go after royalties even if the guitar hadn't been sampled.

Does anyone know roughly how much airtime I'll Be Missing You gets nowadays? I can well believe its royalties swamped those of Every Breath You Take back in 1997 but I doubt if that's the case now.
posted by Azara at 5:11 AM on January 7


Sting is basically the same as Jobs.

Obviously a monumental arsehole but some of those closest to him are both good people and enormously fond of him.

So he can't be all bad.
posted by fullerine at 5:14 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Folks, you really do need to read the entire interview to understand the context of those pulled quotes. If you're getting the impression that it was an all Sting smack down, well, this is why pulled quotes are dangerous. There was *plenty* of smack being laid all around, plus multiple references to "Behind My Camel."

and Stewart Copeland WAS The Police

No, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Sting were the police. It was the essential incompatibilities that made them work -- for a while. There's a reason that nothing Sting, or Copeland, or Summers has done afterwards really sounds like The Police.

And, when it comes to assholes, there was certainly more than on asshole in The Police. I'm certain there were two, and I'm pretty sure there were three.

Don't get me wrong -- I love Stewart Copeland's work. He has an amazing and unique perspective on rock drumming, and the technical chops to play it. But I get the sense that many are either damning or confirming their damnation of Sting based on those pulled quotes, and if you think Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were all sweetness and light and Sting was the ass in that interview, you really need to read the whole thing.
posted by eriko at 5:42 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Don't get me wrong -- I love Stewart Copeland's work. He has an amazing and unique perspective on rock drumming, and the technical chops to play it. But I get the sense that many are either damning or confirming their damnation of Sting based on those pulled quotes, and if you think Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were all sweetness and light and Sting was the ass in that interview, you really need to read the whole thing.

Seconded. I think Stewart's an amazing drummer, but - I saw an interview with all three of them from just a couple years back and Stewart was being such an obnoxious class-clown type of git that even I was ready to smack him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on January 7


Come to think of it, Copeland gets credit for the little tantric sex-Sting joke, I believe.
SO SUE ME
posted by thelonius at 7:04 AM on January 7


I believe Sting gets royalties for Dire Straits' 'Money For Nothing' (how appropriate!) as well, since he sang the "I want my MTV" intro on it, and his performance wasn't cleared with his label, whose lawyers went aggressively for the jugular. I'm also fairly certain I've read that Sting had nothing to do with that personally, and has apologised to Mark Knopfler and tried to make things right.

When labels and lawyers are involved, you can't assume everything that gets done in someone's name is done with their knowledge or consent.
posted by Dysk at 7:15 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


The article suggests that Sting makes $750k a year off "Every Breath You Take" in toto

Toto has nothing to do with this, I'm sure.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:24 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


(Some evidence that I'm not just going making things up or going mad, even if I may be embellishing it - though I'm pretty sure I'm not, I can't find anything more in-depth or conclusive.)
posted by Dysk at 7:28 AM on January 7


I worked for 5 years at a major label licensing songs (and clearing Samples). There's a bit of misinformation in this thread.

As a general rule, "song splits" (songwriting percentages for the writers) are decided on long before an album is released. This is mostly an internal band decision and the publisher documents the splits. The label pays the publisher for each album sold and the publisher pays the writers accordingly.

Bad Boy records are in charge of clearing and getting permission for samples, not PDiddy (or Kanye ).

Is sting a dick? Perhaps. But Summers was a fool to ever agree to no share of songwriting and complaining about his riff being used a decade later by another artist is sour grapes.

Now, I'm curious about the master rights licensing. The actual physical recording of his guitar. Presumably that was part of the settlement and I would imagine summers saw a tiny piece of that.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 7:41 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


i don't understand any of the jokes here, but i'm laughing because i want to fit in
posted by bitteroldman at 7:41 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I think the real question here is, if someone plays the lute, are they called a "lautist"?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:46 AM on January 7


I still think Sting is a complete asshole for breaking out a hurdy gurdy at the Oscars and only playing the drone.

"Behold, mortals, this magical device! It is a mystery beyond both you and me."
posted by malocchio at 8:03 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


And, when it comes to assholes, there was certainly more than on asshole in The Police. I'm certain there were two, and I'm pretty sure there were three.

And with the power of the internet, I can make someone on the other side of the planet think I'm an asshole just because we disagree about something!
posted by Fleebnork at 8:40 AM on January 7


I think the real question here is, if someone plays the lute, are they called a "lautist"?

Someone skilled at the instrument is called a lutenist.

In the case of one who plays without knowing what they're about, and does so publicly, the term is simply laut -- also spelled lout.

In the Old West, of course, musicians vied for the title Ruten-Tutenist Fastest Lutenist. Perhaps the most famous of these was the mysterious masked musician El Kabong.

Okay?
 
posted by Herodios at 9:03 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


I think the real question here is, if someone plays the lute, are they called a "lautist"?

Luter. Causes terrible confusion when people break out their lutes to comfort the afflicted in the wake of natural disasters.
posted by yoink at 9:19 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Sting makes $2,000 a day because Puffy Daddy and his record label didn't bother clearing the rights when they sampled "Every Breath You Take" for "I'll Be Missing You." Even though Andy Summers wrote the guitar line that you hear. It's still a sensitive subject.

The article suggests that Sting makes $750k a year off "Every Breath You Take" in toto, not just the royalties on "I'll Be Missing You."

The $2,000 doesn't seem to be what he "makes" every day; it's what he has made on the average day over the past 20 years. I sincerely doubt he "makes $2,000 a day" off of it. Moreover, it's for Every Breath You Take as a whole, not for the Puff Daddy sampling of it.

If you wanna be really particular about it, the guitar part is an arpeggiation of a chord progression that is commoner than dirt. I'm not sure who should be getting $2K/day for thinking up going 'tonic--relative minor--dominant', but I'm pretty sure it's not anybody in The Police.


I wish that in the middle of this thread there was a guy whose arm fell off. Then a mod could come out and say something like "And this is why we don't editorialize on the blue".
posted by hal_c_on at 9:44 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Someone claiming to be the interviewer in that 2000 interview has chimed in in the comments on an article about this brouhaha. He says it's simply not true that Sting gets everything; he "agreed to give each of his bandmates 15% of royalties each, on all his songs." Moreover, "That is MUCH more than most songwriters offer than (sic) bandmates - if they offer them anything at all."
posted by Flunkie at 9:49 AM on January 7


I would like to remind everyone that Steward Copeland did the music for Good Burger.

Thank you.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:52 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


"That is MUCH more than most songwriters offer than (sic) bandmates - if they offer them anything at all."

My understanding is that the industry standard is music (as written on a sheet, ie: melody) and lyrics go to the writer/writers ... unless the band has its own internal deal.

REM, for instance, split everything four ways even though Michael Stipe wrote pretty much all the lyrics and Peter Buck wrote the majority of the music. They just valued the whole of the band more than its individual parts.

Queen on the other hand went with the industry standard, which came up in a recent Brian May interview.
posted by philip-random at 10:09 AM on January 7


I suspect that "Every Breath You Take" will be played much more in the future than "I'll Be Missing You". The second song is a travesty akin to Elton's remake of "Candle in the Wind".
posted by arcticseal at 10:14 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Yeah I don't think "I'll Be Missing You" really gets much play anymore, at least not on anything I listen to. My wife and I listened to a Top 90 of the 90s on XM on the drive home from NYE, and it came on, and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd heard it.

We later switched to Top 100 of the '00s and when they played "Peaches and Cream" I was all, "Hey, alright, now I remember 112. 2014 is looking rad!"
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:22 AM on January 7


"My understanding is that the industry standard is music (as written on a sheet, ie: melody) and lyrics go to the writer/writers ... unless the band has its own internal deal. "

There isn't an 'industry standard'. The record label pays a publisher (or publishers) and the publisher pays the writers based on what the writers agreed.

Who wrote what percentage of a song is entirely up to the songwriters to decide, in almost all cases. So basically every song written has an 'internal deal'.

There may be a standard between songwriters, Bernie and Elton may have agreed to a 50/50 like Lennon and McCartney did regardless of who wrote the important bits, but the record labels really have zero input.

Of course it gets very tricky outside of your standard band writing their own songs. Sometimes producers have a contractual percentage of every song they work on. I've seen songs with 8 different writers and 7 different publishing houses all try to agree on something.

Usually though, songwriters have a conversation between themselves to determine who gets what, they tell their publishers, it gets noted, and everyone is happy. Except Andy summers.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 10:38 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I should add that in the case of samples the writers often have zero input.

Lets say someone sampled "hey Jude" by the Beatles. A 50/50 split between Lennon and McCartney. The sampling artist was kanye west.

An agreement would be negotiated between the publishers that the new song is now 70% Beatles written and 30% kanye. This is done between lawyers et al with zero input from kanye or Paul. (Unless of course Paul said go for it, just give me x% when the song is done).
posted by BlerpityBloop at 10:45 AM on January 7


REM, for instance, split everything four ways even though Michael Stipe wrote pretty much all the lyrics and Peter Buck wrote the majority of the music. They just valued the whole of the band more than its individual parts.

Or Lennon-McCartney, which was always the credit on their song with The Beatles, even if one of them did nothing on the song. They'd agreed early on to share writing credits regardless and kept that deal throughout the tenure of the band. (On Preview, BlerpityBloop notes the same)

Robert Fripp once gave Bill Bruford writing credit on a jam that ended up becoming a King Crimson song -- even though Bruford literally did nothing. Why? Because Bruford sat there, holding his sticks, and Robert Fripp decided that percussion had nothing to offer for that particular song and gave Bruford the credit for knowing when not to play.

(Went and looked it up -- the song was "Trio" on Starless and Bible Black.)
posted by eriko at 10:47 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Or a very prominent rap artist that chipped 5% of publishing to the guy who supplied weed to the studio that day as a thank you.

Made my life hell tracking him down.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 10:51 AM on January 7 [9 favorites]


Everyone who called Sting an asshole failed to credit Robert Plant for the quote*.


A few years ago there was a thread about rock star encounters and a Mefite (can't remember who) shared a story about his friend meeting Plant backstage at a show, and being obsessed with Sting, asked Plant if he'd ever met him, to which Plant replied in the affirmative and then called Sting an asshole.
posted by Devils Slide at 10:51 AM on January 7


So basically every song written has an 'internal deal'.

Exactly.
posted by The World Famous at 10:55 AM on January 7


Lets say someone sampled "hey Jude" by the Beatles. A 50/50 split between Lennon and McCartney. The sampling artist was kanye west.

An agreement would be negotiated between the publishers that the new song is now 70% Beatles written and 30% kanye.


So because of a) this deal among 4th 5th and 6th parties and 2. a handshake agreement between teenaged Lennon and McCartney, Yoko Ono gets a 35% stake in a rap record produced over three decades after Lennon's death because it contains samples of a song that was written entirely* by McCartney, inspired specifically to console Lennon's son about his parent's separation and impending divorce -- which was due in no small part to Lennon's affair with Yoko Ono.

There's nobizniz like showbizniz for strange bedfellows.

----------------------------------
*Lennon's contribution: "Don't change 'the movement you need is on your shoulder'".
Plus harmony vocals and, I think, tambourine.

posted by Herodios at 11:35 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Robert Fripp once gave Bill Bruford writing credit on a jam that ended up becoming a King Crimson song -- even though Bruford literally did nothing.

Specifically, both the composing and performing credit was for "admirable restraint".
 
posted by Herodios at 11:38 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I suppose technically it would be Michael Jackson's estate, not Yoko One, since Jackson got control of the Beatle's publishing catalog decades ago when Sony and ATV merged.

Though....it get's more corporate than that:

"In November 2011, Citigroup announced a tentative deal to sell EMI, with the recorded music arm going to Vivendi's Universal Music Group for $1.9 billion and the publishing business going to a Sony/ATV-led consortium for around $2.2 billion. Other members of the Sony consortium include Blackstone and Abu Dhabi-owned investment fund Mubadala. In March 2012, concessions were offered to the European Union to help win approval of the consortium's purchase.The deal won European Union approval on April 19, 2012.[39] As part of the deal, Sony/EMI divested the publishing rights for Famous Music UK and Virgin Music. These catalogues were acquired by BMG Rights Management in December 2012 for $150 million"

So, basically, a bunch of bankers are getting rich off of Beatles songs.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 12:02 PM on January 7


Knowing how bands sorted out the actual songwriting credits is an interesting window into the dynamics of the bands themselves. It's not surprising that the REM catalog is credited to Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe, but its sorta IS surprising to me that the first six Van Halen records (i.e., through *1984*) are split just as equally.
posted by uberchet at 12:04 PM on January 7


And fwiw, stings publishing is through emi, iirc, so he's caught up in that whole mess too.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 12:06 PM on January 7


I suppose technically it would be Michael Jackson's estate, not Yoko One . . .

Ohhhh, right. Cuz it was only a Northern Song®.


Well, mine's the better story, even if it isn't true.
posted by Herodios at 12:28 PM on January 7


If you're looking for reasons to call Sting an asshole, I'd say "palling around with Bashar Al-Assad" to be a pretty good one.
posted by Fnarf at 1:18 PM on January 7


METAFILTER: looking for reasons to call Sting an asshole
posted by philip-random at 1:44 PM on January 7


Lotta people here confusing the issues "Is Sting a dick?", "How much should [a recording artist] pay [a source artist] for [sampled material]?", and "What is legally required here?".

Three very different questions.

(IMO: Yes, probably. Whatever their lawyers hash out, unless they had the foresight to set up contracts ahead of time, but somewhere north of zero and south of half the profits. Whatever the courts decide, unless the parties settle.)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:54 PM on January 7


Metafilter: "admirable restraint"
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on January 7


Metafilter: "admirable restraint"

As if.

 
posted by Herodios at 2:24 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Hey, nice restraints!
posted by planetesimal at 3:28 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


In 1997, Puff Daddy and Faith Evans went on the VMAs to perform this song, and the big reveal was at the beginning, when the lights came up on Sting singing the sampled verse. On a music message board which I frequented, a young woman posted something to the effect of, "awesome performance, but what was up with that weird old white guy onstage?"

It's a sobering thing, to realize that your first "get the fucking hell off my lawn" moment came at the age of 18.
posted by Errant at 4:23 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


That's the way you do it: you play someone else's guitar on the MTV. That ain't working; that's the way you do it!
Money for nothing and the chicks for free!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:05 PM on January 7


I used to think of "Every Breath You Take" as The Stalker Song. Now I think of it as the NSA's anthem.
posted by telstar at 6:40 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


There are other good stalking songs - Imogen Heap "Goodnight And Go", Bleu "Watching You Sleep" - but couples didn't slow dance to them and make them "our song", as far as I know.
posted by thelonius at 7:11 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I remember being sick to death of EBYT as a 17 year old in 1983. That and the cloying [I Know This Much Is] True by Spandau Ballet were inescapable that year. As if that weren't bad enough, they were both sampled by hip hop acts (Puffy and PM Dawn) in the '90s and I had to endure them all over again. Then a few years later Combs had to shit all over Kashmir with Jimmy Page's blessing (he must have needed the money). There are talented rap/hip hop artists who use samples artfully and then there are people like MC Hammer and Puff Daddy who are utterly talentless and rip off songs wholesale. I mean, Combs' contribution to his "remake" of Kashmir was basically uttering "Yeah...yieh" over the music. God, I hate that guy.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:17 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


There are other good stalking songs

A++ for mentioning Imogene Heap. That song is either a very cute I've just fallen in love song or a stalker song -- it really depends on if the person you're singing it to is trying to dump you or not.

EBYT

I was all 'Emerson, Bruford, Young and Taylor?" then I figured it out.
posted by eriko at 7:53 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Well, there's a line about getting a "lucky shot" of the stalkee "taking everything off"
posted by thelonius at 8:01 PM on January 7


"...and you think you're alone"
posted by thelonius at 8:03 PM on January 7


George Clinton's take on all of his music that's been sampled (NSFW audio). Also, you don't want to watch too many other things on that channel unless misogyny is your game.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:07 PM on January 7


I would like to remind everyone that George Clinton has a small role and musical number in Good Burger.

Thank you.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:51 PM on January 7


Ooof. George Clinton. His publisher is Bridgeport music, run by a hippy in Burlington VT. (Unless things have changed recently).

A tiny little outfit that went bananas once older songs with samples could sue for copyright.

Another fun example is men at works "come from a land down under". A massive hit until the writer of "kookaburra sits in an old gum tree" claimed the iconic flute bit was a rip off of his melody. M@W lost
posted by BlerpityBloop at 10:24 PM on January 7


It wasn't the writer (a womsn, incidentally), who claimed that — it was the publisher. And to be honest, it is a riff on the Kookaburra melody. Seems like fair use to me, but the judgement was pretty much the end for Greg Ham, the flute player, who was found dead in his studio not a great while afterwards. Ham had issues with depression and heroin use, but it seems the judgement sealed the deal.
posted by Wolof at 10:35 PM on January 7


Damn, I didn't know that Ham had taken his life. How awful.
posted by thelonius at 2:47 AM on January 8


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