Go put Rihanna’s “Man Down” on right now. We’ll make it easy for you by embedding the video. Then play it as you read all this, for maximum effect.
There’s big money in pop music. If that surprises you, you are too easily surprised. But how big? NPR broke it down, talking to a bunch of industry people to get a ballpark figure (not the actual figure, mind you) for how much their example, “Man Down,” probably cost:
$18,000 for the “writing camp,” in which the label gathers up a bunch of songwriters in a bunch of studios with a bunch of tracks paired with a bunch of people who either have or can speed-write lyrics (“Man Down” took 12 minutes.)
$15,000 for the songwriter
$20,000 for the producer
$15,000 for the vocal producer, who does vocal coaching too.
$10,000 to mix and master the record
$1,000,000 to market the song, get the artist around the country to promote it, and “make radio happy.”
A lot of people are getting really worked up about this, because it’s a convenient place to squeeze out their “lol pop music lol autotune lol fake lol plastic” blurts. But come on: if you don’t think plenty of music, literature, etc. now considered art both A) relied on collaborators, many of whom wrote their songs, and B) were conceived, written and distributed just so somebody could get paid, you’re not doing your research. If you don’t think other genres spend proportionally huge amounts of money on marketing, then you’re not thinking. And complaining about writers/producers getting paid is petty.
But hey, at least you know what kind of stakes your favorite artists (and their labels) have to deal with. And this isn’t even counting the videos! About those bankruptcies….