Feature

The 'eye-popping' cost of a hit song: By the numbers

NPR's breakdown of the money spent writing, recording, and marketing Rihanna's "Man Down" reveals a staggering pricetag

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:

$1,078,000Total cost to write, record, produce, and market a hit single, according to NPR's estimates, based on interviews with industry insiders

$200,000 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

$18,000 Cost per song at a typical writing camp

$15,000Songwriter's fee

$20,000Producer's fee

$53,000Estimated cost of a song — before Rihanna even sings a note

12 minutesHow long it took to write the lyrics "Man Down," according to Daniels

$15,000Vocal producer's fee

$10,000Cost of mixing and mastering a song

$78,000Total cost of recording "Man Down," including the writing camp, and fees for the songwriters, producers, and mixer

$1 millionMoney 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."

$333,333Cost of marketing a song through ads and videos

$333,333Money spent on promotions, like flying the artist around the country for appearances and concerts

$333,333Money spent courting radio programming directors with dinners and events

59Peak 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."

62Peak position of "Man Down" on the iTunes singles chart

94Current position on the iTunes chart

$72 millionRihanna'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.

9Tally of number one singles Rihanna has released, proving that $1,078,000 can, sometimes, be money well spent

Sources: BillboardiTunesNew York, NPR, VH1

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