Music Charts — March 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm

How Much Is A Smash Hit Song Really Worth To The Artists That Create It?



What’s the true financial value of a number one smash hit to the artists that create it?

Well thanks to court proceedings lodged by the children of Marvin Gaye against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I, we may have just found out the answer to that question. A lawsuit lodged by Gaye’s children Nona and Frankie, alleges that the trio’s 2013 smash hit ‘Blurred Lines’ has liberally borrowed from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got To Give It Up’ to the point that it amounts to significant copyright infringement.


The track, which was the biggest hit of 2013, has been at the center of a court battle between Gaye’s children and the artists since last year. As part of the proceedings, the artists were required to disclose the financial details of the song. So how much did each of the artists receive? According to Hollywood Reporter the track earned a staggering $16,675,690 profit.


As the primary artists on the track, Thicke and Williams took the lions share of the profits pocketing a cool $5,658,214 and $5,153457 respectively. T.I received $704,774 for his efforts – not bad for a days work providing a guest verse for the song. The rest of the profits were split between Star Trak, Interscope and UMG Distribution, the labels responsible for production and distribution of the hit.



Usually this type of information remains a closely guarded industry secret but in order to work out the value of the alleged copyright infringement, the figures were required to be made public. Gaye’s family are seeking $40 million in damages according to their lawyer’s opening arguments alleging that they are due 50 percent of the profits as well as damages to compensate them for the “reduction of the fair market value” of licensing “Got To Give It Up.” The suit is also targeting profits from Thicke’s touring, estimating that $US11 million of Thicke’s touring profits were attributable to “Blured Lines”.


Williams and Thicke have denied copying the hit, adamant that there are no similarities beyond “commonplace musical elements” and are resolute that the song was created “without copying anyone else’s composition”.


The trial, which has been going on since late 2014, has already unveiled a number of juicy details about the nature of the ‘collaborative’ project between Thicke and Williams. Thick took to the stand and admitted to having a very tenuous link to the production of the hit:


“I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time.”

“I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.”


How close are these songs really though? Well, we’ll let you be the judge: