Have you ever wondered how much money was spent to get a song on the radio — and stuck in your head? NPR set out to discover just that, determining how much it costs to make a hit single, using Rihanna's song "Man Down" as a case study. Here's how the "eye-popping" bill breaks down, by the numbers:
Total cost to write, record, produce, and market a hit single, according to NPR's estimates, based on interviews with industry insiders
Estimated total cost of a writing camp, in which the record label rents several studios and flies in songwriters and producers to spend two weeks working on songs for an artist
Cost per song at a typical writing camp
Estimated cost of a song — before Rihanna even sings a note
How long it took to write the lyrics "Man Down," according to Daniels
Vocal producer's fee
Cost of mixing and mastering a song
Total cost of recording "Man Down," including the writing camp, and fees for the songwriters, producers, and mixer
Money spent on "song roll-out" after it's finished. "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," says Daniels. "All of that costs."
Cost of marketing a song through ads and videos
Money spent on promotions, like flying the artist around the country for appearances and concerts
Money spent courting radio programming directors with dinners and events
Peak position of "Man Down" on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. "As it happens," says Zoe Chace at NPR, "Man Down" has not sold that well, and radio play has been minimal."
Peak position of "Man Down" on the iTunes singles chart
Current position on the iTunes chart
Rihanna's estimated net worth in 2011, according to VH1. Though "Man Down" hasn't sold well, Def Jam "makes up the shortfall by releasing other singles," says Chace. Rihanna only gets paid after the label recoups its investment on the album.
Tally of number one singles Rihanna has released, proving that $1,078,000 can, sometimes, be money well spent
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
- How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
Subscribe to the Week