The royalties affected by the situation are performance, mechanical and sync. While there’s no fool-proof way to calculate just how big money-maker the song has been, its success so far in the U.S. alone already puts its total estimated publishing and songwriting royalties in seven-figure territory in just four months’ time.
Using informed assumptions of how much each transaction would pay, Christopher Hull, partner and co-practice leader at Citrin Cooperman, roughly estimates the publisher and writer royalties for U.S. 5 globally for Amazon Music and No. — last week, the song ranked No. 5 on Spotify’s global chart on 31.6 million spins; it also ranked No. consumption of “Good 4 U” at more than $1.4 million. That estimate does not take into consideration the revenue that she’s made outside the U.S. 6 at Apple Music, but neither of those share play counts.
Hull wasn’t able predict the inevitable sync revenue this song will generate from use in ads or placements on film or TV. “We all know that great advertisers love the fact that if your head is down on a different device, and you hear a hit song on the television, you pick your head up. They’ll pay for those hit songs, so sometimes you see those worths jump up after the fact.” Such sync use can spur a second life for the song on streaming services and even radio. “A year after a song peaks at radio, you can go get $250,000 or half a million in sync for a song that is so recognizable,” says the aforementioned music publishing exec.
Once news broke that Olivia Rodrigo had added members of Paramore to songwriting credits on her summer smash “Good 4 U,” observers immediately began calculating what that meant for Hayley Williams and Josh Farro, the credited members of the long-running group.
Even though the “Glory” passage only accounts for 3% of the song’s 3:09 running time, Hill’s estate got cut in for 15% of the song’s royalty, Lovett explained to this writer at the time, and beyond that, the older song’s title was added to Lovett’s song: “What Do You Do”/”Glory of Love.” As one example, Lyle Lovett’s 1989 song “What Do You Do” concludes with less than six seconds of music and lyrics of the Billy Hill-composed “The Glory of Love,” originally recorded by Benny Goodman in 1936 and covered many times by the likes of Dean Martin, Bette Midler, Paul McCartney and Imelda May.
Likewise, it hasn’t been reported how the splits will line up for Williams and Farro. The writer or writers who come up with the song’s hook can get a higher share than the other collaborators do. After you bake off the publisher’s share, the remaining $700,000 gets split between the writers, which now number four, although it’s unlikely each gets a quarter of writers’ share. Songwriting producers like Nigro, who has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Lewis Capaldi, Carley Rae Jepsen and Finneas O’Connell, usually get more than a standard share when they co-write.
“It’s hard to give an exact value, because there really are a lot of variables, but in public performance [alone], it’s a seven-figure number ranging from $1.2 million to probably north of $2 million on the amount of spins, how long it’s been on the radio, how many formats it got play from,” says a high- ranking executive at one large indie publisher.
Based on the numbers already piled up by Rodrigo’s hit in its first four months — 527.4 million streams, 134,900 song sales, 324,300 radio plays and 246,700 album sales— a royalties specialist at one business management firm thinks the song is already there.
The Disney star/singer’s song bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May, when her album “Sour” also started at No. 1, and the song is currently at No. 3. However, fans had long pointed out similarities between the song and Paramore’s 2007 hit “Misery Business,” creating multiple mash-ups online, and a source close to the situation recently told Variety that the credit is actually an interpolation — which is essentially an element of a previously recorded song re-recorded and incorporated into a new song — and that the two parties were in touch before “Good 4 U” was released
Half of that goes to whatever publishers are involved; in this case, Sony Music Publishing represents Rodrigo and Dan Nigro, the producer who co-wrote eight of the 11 songs on the album “Sour,” “Good” among them. Now, with Williams and Farro added to the credits, Warner Chappell Music has a piece of this, too. While there’s definite upside ahead for “Good 4 U,” remember that the estimated $1.4 million doesn’t belong to Rodrigo alone.
The stakes, of course, are much higher for a hit like “Good 4 U.” Says one prominent music attorney, “A song like that can earn $10 million.”