HIT IT! // Song
Getting a song on the pop charts takes big money.
Def Jam started paying for Rihanna's recent single, "Man Down, " more than a year ago. In March of 2010, the label held a writing camp in L.A. to create the songs for Rihanna's album, Loud.
At a writing camp, a record label hires the best music writers in the country and drops them into the nicest recording studios in town for about two weeks. It's a temporary version of the old music-industry hit factories, where writers and producers cranked out pop songs.
"It's like an all-star game, " says Ray Daniels, who was at the writing camp for Rihanna.
Daniels manages a songwriting team of two brothers, Timothy and Theron Thomas, who work under the name Rock City. "You got all the best people, you're gonna make the best records, " he says.
These are rough estimates based on interviews with industry insiders. The figures have not been confirmed by Rihanna’s label, Def Jam.
Here's who shows up at a writing camp: songwriters with no music, and producers toting music tracks with no words.
The Thomas brothers knew producer Shama "Sham" Joseph, but they had never heard his Caribbean-flavored track that became "Man Down."
According to Daniels, the brothers listened to the track and said, "Let's give Rihanna a one-drop! Like, a response to 'I shot the sheriff!"
They wrote the lyrics to "Man Down" in about 12 minutes, Daniels says.
To get that twelve minutes of inspiration from a top songwriting team is expensive — even before you take into account the fee for the songwriters.
At a typical writing camp, the label might rent out 10 studios, at a total cost of about $25, 000 a day, Daniels says.
The writing camp for Rihanna's album "had to cost at least 200 grand, " Daniels says. "It was at least forty guys out there. I was shocked at how much money they were spending! But, guess what? They got the whole album out of that one camp."
A writing camp is like a reality show, where top chefs who have never met are forced to cook together. At the end, Rihanna shows up like the celebrity judge and picks her favorites.
Her new album has 11 songs on it. So figure that the writing camp cost about $18, 000 per song.
The songwriter and the producer each got a fee for their services. Rock City got $15, 000 for Man Down, and the producer got around $20, 000, according to Daniels.
That's about $53, 000.00 spent on the song so far— before Rihanna even steps into the studio with her vocal producer.
The vocal producer's job is to make sure Rihanna sings the song right.
Makeba Riddick didn't produce Rihanna's vocals on "Man Down, " but she's one of the industry's top producers, and has worked with the singer on many songs, including the two number one hits in 2010: "Rude Boy" and "Love the Way You Lie."
When Riddick works with a singer, she'll say, "I need you to belt this out, I need you to scream this, as if you're on one end of the block and you're trying to talk to somebody three blocks away."
Or maybe: "Sing with your lips a little more closed, a little more pursed together, so we can get that low, melancholy sound."
Not only that, the vocal producer has to deal with the artist's rider. The rider is whatever the artist needs to get them in the mood to get into the booth and sing.
"They'll have strobe lights, incense burning, doves flying around the studio, " she says. (Yes, Riddick has had doves circling her head while she's working.)
Rihanna is "very focused" Riddick says. So no doves.
Riddick's fee starts at $10, 000 to $15, 000 per song, she says.
The last step is mixing and mastering the song, which costs another $10, 000 to $15, 000, according to Daniels.
So, our rough tally to create one pop song comes to:
The cost of the writing camp, plus fees for the songwriter, producer, vocal producer and the mix comes to $78, 000.
But it's not a hit until everybody hears it. How much does that cost?
About $1 million, according to Daniels, Riddick and other industry insiders.
"The reason it costs so much, " Daniels says, "is because I need everything to click at once. You want them to turn on the radio and hear Rihanna, turn on BET and see Rihanna, walk down the street and see a poster of Rihanna, look on Billboard, the iTunes chart, I want you to see Rihanna first. All of that costs."
That's what a hit song is: It's everywhere you look. To get it there, the label pays.
Every song is different. Some songs have a momentum all their own, some songs just break out out of the blue. But the record industry depends on hits for sales. Having hits is the business plan. The majority of songs that are hits — that chart high, that sell big, that blast out of cars in the summertime— cost a million bucks to get them heard and played and bought.
Daniels breaks down the expenses roughly into thirds: a third for marketing, a third to fly the artist everywhere, and a third for radio.
"Marketing and radio are totally different, " he says. "Marketing is street teams, commercials and ads."
"Radio you're talking about . . ." he pauses. "Treating the radio guys nice."
'Treating the radio guys nice' is a very fuzzy cost. It can mean taking the program directors of major market stations to nice dinners. It can mean flying your artist in to do a free show at a station in order to generate more spots on a radio playlist.
Former program director Paul Porter, who co-founded the media watchdog group Industry Ears, says it's not that record labels pay outright for a song. They pay to establish relationships so that when they are pushing a record, they will come first.
Porter says shortly after he started working as a programmer for BET about 10 years ago, he received $40, 000.00 in hundred-dollar bills in a Fed-Ex envelope.
Current program directors told me this isn't happening anymore. They say their playlists are made through market research on what their listeners want to hear.
In any case, to return to our approximate tally: After $78, 000 to make the song, and another $1 million to roll it out, Rihanna's "Man Down" gets added to radio playlists across the country, gets a banner ad on iTunes ... and may still not be a hit.What does an eye for an eye mean? What does it mean if you sweat a lot? What does flog mean? How to fix cracked heels? What does it mean when you poop blood? What does rollback mean in walmart? What a riot meaning? What are the back teeth called? What does it mean to moon someone? How to delete photos on facebook? What are some tips about drawing cross contour lines.? What method of art analysis considers the underlying unconscious meaning of an artwork? What does crossing your fingers mean? How to prepare steak tips indoors? How to delete a section break in word? What is the meaning of theo? How to find electrons? How to play combat tricks in mtg? How long does it take to cure syphilis? What does it mean when you see a hummingbird? What time does amazon deliver? What does strata mean? How to get rid of double chin overnight? What is the spiritual meaning of the number 12? how do you make hamburger helper from scratch What is the full meaning of vincent? What should the internal temperature of grilled sirloin tips be? how to sale multiple items wit hsteam inventory helper extension What does a freight broker do? What is tone? What are hydrops? Tips when getting braces? How to do bartender tricks? What is hsv? What do odds of -200 mean? What does literary device mean? What does it mean when alexa is yellow? What is the meaning of interdict? What is the meaning of born in the usa? How to attract crows? What is a work permit? Who was the old female movie star that turned tricks? What does it mean when you dream about crocodiles? How much protein per day to build muscle? How to say hello in spanish? What is the meaning of hybrid car? How to play pool? What is the senate? What does mucus in urine mean? How to do bartender tricks youtube? How should catering tips be reported by employer? What does devise mean? which is not a function of a helper t cell? How to take a screen shot on a mac? Tricks of the trade how insurance companies deny? How to get rid of clover in lawn? How to make tempura batter? What does captivate mean? What time does daytona 500 start? How to buy nft on opensea? What are the 78 organs in the human body? What does it mean to be neurodivergent? what are the chord changes in mothers little helper How to dice tomatoes? What is a condom? What is a skinwalker? What time does the dump open? What is emf? What is the meaning of bon appetit? What happened to the tips and notes section in duolingo? What does zuri mean? What does b mean? How to pick a lock with a paperclip? How to select all photos on iphone? What happens to a dream deferred meaning? What does self harming mean? How to turn up volume on airpods? Why is my succulent turning red tips? How to become a sports agent? How to find volume of a cylinder? How to get rid of a stomach virus? What does 10 4 mean in police code? What are akashic records? What stds are not curable? How to get rid of scratches on car? Tricks to use when a school is searching you? How to make rubber band bracelets? What does condemn mean? What does it mean when your left hand itches? What are restaurant table tips? What time is it in asia? How to play skip bo? Tips how to lose weight quickly? When you look at someone with rose-colored glasses bojack meaning? how to use wii u usb helper windwaker What is the meaning of erin? What does est delivery mean? How to change paypal password? How to crate train a puppy at night? What time does whataburger stop selling breakfast? Tingling in finger tips when touching? How to unclog a toilet filled with q-tips? What are the safest cities in california? how to use figma font helper How to superscript in word? What is the meaning of the name kaden? after helper t-cell activation, which of the following are produced? How to cite an online article apa? why are there multiple chrome helper in activity monitor What does famished mean? What state is milwaukee in? How to delete old emails in gmail? Neopets tips how many days is 10 years? What does high t4 mean? How to get my instagram account back? What does nervousness mean? How to endorse a check to someone else? What is the meaning of realistic fiction? What is the meaning of the principle of minimum trust when used to design network security? What states are open carry? How to see hidden tips on doordash? Motorcycle 02 sensor removed what tricks ecu? How to bleach tips of hair at home? What is a turnpike? How to set up apple watch? What does the name nancy mean? What are moguls? How much are sns nails with tips? What does a timing belt do? How do you report ubereats cash tips? How long does it take for antidepressants to work? How long do nipple piercings take to heal? What does a high tsh mean? Tricks to seeing who is viewing your facebook page? What does integrity mean to you? How to know if you have pcos? What time does chick fil a breakfast stop? How to make money on tiktok? How to make money on youtube? how to beat helper to hero with bugzzy What are millennials known for? What is napalm? What is the meaning of re? how to message a helper on instagc How to unblur an image? How much is tips? How to change twitter name? How to zoom out on chromebook? What does generous mean? What are stock magic tricks? Travel tips usa today how to get on a flight if id was stolen? What is the symbolic meaning of fire? how to make your tuna helper thicker? How to setup chromecast? How to draw hands anime? old school runescape ichtlarin's little helper where is the wanderer What does alice stand for? What does outsourcing mean? How to make co2 bubbles tricks to make it work? How did the clairvoyants do their tricks on america's got talent? What does disparity mean? How to repost a tiktok? What is a one to one function? How to turn on tips twitter? How to get a bigger buttocks naturally? How to draw fur? How to make gravy from scratch? How to contour nose? What is valium? How to take a screenshot windows 10? how to spice up beef pasta hamburger helper How much does a delivery driver make in tips? How to use whatsapp? What does bland mean? Tips on how to soooth a new born baby? What does physiology mean? How to deep clean my whole house with tips? What is kahoot? How to do big buzzats tricks? What does insurance mean? What does befriend mean? What is a sin? What is the game? How to be that girl? How to get more pokeballs in pokemon go? How to legally change your name after marriage? How to find the mean of a data set? What museums are open in dc? Where to learn new tricks? How may i assist you meaning? How long does tips alcohol traing take? What are essential tremors? What does sun sign mean? What are the first signs of internal bleeding? What do smt mean? What is the meaning of attributes of god? What does sp mean in text? What does a water pump do? What is the meaning of impaled? What is meaning of ramadan? How to make a constipated dog poop quickly? What does cvt mean? What is the meaning of patrician? How to make fried shrimp? how to know if a guy is a bystander or a helper How to add tips on twitter? What does spooning mean? How to do magic for humans tricks? How to know if you like someone? What is meaning of jesus name? How to increase ferritin levels? What is the meaning of drive? What time does michaels close today? Who tricks judah into sleeping with him? Mary ann didnt know if her eyes were playing tricks on her or what? What does chemistry feel like for a man? How to take a screenshot on my phone? How to make play-doh? how to helper t cells leave blood for infection How can figurative language enhance meaning? How to lower cortisol? What are annotations? What does fs mean in text? What does bereft mean? What is a conductor? What does vibrance mean? What does the number 2 mean spiritually? What are some good tips to get pregnant? What does it mean when you have headaches everyday? How to watch wrestlemania 2022? What are qualities? How to insert nuvaring? How to smoke headlamp with plastic tips? What is the meaning of nt scan in pregnancy? how much pressure in helper air bags how much is hamburger helper How do you use raw tips? What does open relationship mean? How to know which airpod pro tips to use? What does obey mean? What does gracious mean? What is the meaning of romanesque? What does dyslexia look like? What does pronated mean? How to barbeque right? how to stop small files from coming up on video download helper What does doppelganger mean? What does gm mean? What does crimson mean? How to get rid of a fever in 24 hours? What are the base pairing rules for dna? how to use helper in controller rails Tips to not print when not conceal carrying? What are sns with tips? What does companionship mean? What are some tips for speaking when presenting? How to make a csgo fragmovie editing tricks? What does anarchy mean? How dp u pay taxes when getting money just from tips? How to make weed tea? How to use google search tricks? What are the products of photosynthesis? When q-tips hit the spot? What channel is espn plus? How to lose a guy in 10 days cast? What does upside down smile mean?