Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song?

Blog Post #1
Below I embedded a report NPR did to breakdown how a hit song is made and pretty much explains how supergroup TLC (pictured below) wound up bankrupt.

TLC's album CrazySexyCool eventually sold over 11 million copies in the US, and became one of the first albums to ever receive a diamond certification from the RIAA, and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for "Creep". However, in the midst of their apparent success, the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995.

They declared debts totaling 3.5 million dollars, much of it because of insurance payments, medical bills, but the primary reason being that each member of the group was taking home less than $35,000 a year after paying managers, producers, expenses, and taxes. (Info from Wikipedia)

In the graphic below NPR put together the costs involved to put together a mainstream album.

graphical breakdown of expenses

The below podcast details how Rihanna's album was put together and her the cost to the record label with her single 'Man Down' (pictured below) used as an example.

Rihanna's single artwork


Reina Williams said...

i have a hit song and it cost me nothing but time. when you're talking about writing, thats the hit factor. not the money you put into it. i know dope songwriters that are writing for hundreds of dollars not thousands, but the songs they write are HITS by formula and catchiness. the thing that is keeping the world from hearing them is exposure, which DOES cost money to some extent.

but a true hit is priceless and honestly these days, hit songs are manufactured and burned into your ears. not chosen because they are good or "hit-worthy".

only reason those songwriters are getting so much is because it only takes ONE song to get in billboard top 5 or land on a "hit" record. so they prob started writing for free, but we all have to eat. so after everyone wanted to work with them having landed a hit song, then the procetag goes up considerably. recession-shmession. ha.

the music industry is not what it used to be. so i can see why we are now breaking HITS down by COST instead of true artistry and composition.

Dankwa Brooks said...


"honestly these days, hit songs are manufactured and burned into your ears. not chosen because they are good or "hit-worthy". True.

Some songs I didn't even like until I heard them a thousand times. Now these same songs mostly never become a song I will remember and want to put on a mixtape or something in the future, but I liked them for what they were at the time. There's something to be said for repetition I guess.

As you heard in the piece even all the money in the world can’t guarantee a hit.