Rodney Jerkins Reveals Shocking Royalties That Show Unfair Pay For Music Creators
Recently the Recording Academy LA chapter held a meeting to discuss the importance of District Advocacy Day and music producing legend Rodney Jerkins shared shocking royalties from his producer Andre Lindall who composed Justin Bieber’s 2010 hit, ‘As Long as You Love Me’.
The transcript below from Jerkins shows why we as music creators should all be advocates for our music rights and urge Congress to update copyright laws so that our livelihoods can be protected.
“I had a guy, who I met in my studio in 2009. And there were different publishing companies wanting to sign this guy, and he was from Norway [Andre Lindall]. And here I am, just a producer, and I’m interested in this guy, but I’m going against the heavyweight publishing companies.
“And the only thing I can sell this guy — they can sell him on the bank — and the only thing I can sell this guy on is that I have the relationships with the artists. I can get your music in the hands of the artist.
“And he’s goes, ‘Oh yeah, like who?’
“And I’m like, ‘Well who’s hot, who do you want to work with?’
“And he’s like, ‘Justin Bieber’.
“And I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll make that happen’.
“And so he goes, ‘Really? Well I’ll sign with you then.’
“So he left Norway, and he came to the States. He left his family in Norway. And came to the States, to what — to live the American Dream. To hit the studio and potentially work with Justin Bieber.
“And guess what? It happened, within a year. Not only did he get a chance to work on a record with me with Justin. But [the song] actually became a top hit for Justin. It was called ‘As Long as You Love Me.’
“And his percentage on this particular song was about 20%. That was 2010 when it came out.
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“What I’m going to talk to you about real quick is 2013 — three years later — after the song blew up.
“And I have witnesses here, so you can fact check. Okay.
“So, on the first page. It says the total royalty amount was $149,000.”
“Top ten hit. 20%, $149,000. This is three years, three years in. This is his performance royalty from BMI.
“The song played on the radio, it had 347,820 spins. The royalty amount on that alone, was $53,000.
“Let’s fast-forward to this page, the interesting page.
“Sirius XM, not bad. 1,509 spins, earned him $765 dollars.
“You ready for this?
“Pandora: 38,225,700 spins earned him $278.
[audience laughs; starts talking; one person says ‘WOW!’]
“I’m not finished.
[audience quiets down]
“YouTube: 34,220,900 spins earned him $218.17.
[chatter in the audience]
“Now I did the math for you guys. That’s on 20%. If he were to own 100% of the song, on YouTube he would have earned $1,100.
“If he owned 100% of the song on Pandora, he would have made $1,400.
[audience member: ‘jeez’]
“That’s why I wanted to get involved. Because to me, looking at those numbers, that’s criminal.
[audience member: ‘it is!’]
“How many songwriters in the room?
[about 65% raise their hand]
We all have a unique gift. All of us in this room as songwriters. You know what our unique gift is? We create, we create. And when we create — I have four children. It’s a beautiful thing. When my daughter walks into the room and I look in her eyes I know it’s a piece of me.
[boisterous laughter, clapping]
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There’s no feeling better than sitting down at a piano, or with your pen and your pad, or with your phone. And you start to create something. And then you created it and it’s yours. And then it goes over to this company over here, and it gets played 30 something million times.
“And the only thing that shows for it is $273? Are you kidding me?
So what happens to the next generation? To the guy from Norway who does this. You know what happens? He’s gotta go back.
How can the next generation survive in Hollywood? You guys know what the rent is out here.
[audience: murmurs in agreement]
“So what happens is — the plan is ruined. The plan is ruined. We come out here and we’re excited because it’s the American Dream.
“I want to be the greatest songwriter of all time! I have the skill set!
“But the problem is that if streaming is taking over, and the numbers don’t add up…
“How will I be able to support my gift?
“I’m very passionate about this. This is close to me because I’ve been in the business for 23 years. And I’ve been blessed. And I want to see the next generation be able to experience life at the fullest level because their creativity means so much to us.”
If you’re a music creator, reading this should have made you cringe! This shows just how critical unfair pay for music creators is plaguing our industry by unregulated music streaming companies.
I encourage you to get involved today and become an advocate for change so that our current and future generations music careers can be saved. If you are a Recording Academy member, District Advocacy Day is October 18th across the country.