I read a fascinating article this weekend by Zoe Chace from NPR about the costs behind crafting a hit single. She digs into the background of one of Rihanna’s singles (“Man Down”) from her latest record titled, Loud.
One of the most intriguing points she makes in an article full of intriguing points is the estimated costs for all the behind-the-scenes players who turn songs into records into money. I’ve included a graphic from the article below:
That’s $1 million bucks folks, and of that, $78,000 goes toward crafting a single song.
So much for the concept of sitting in your basement and crafting your best song that you hope and pray becomes a hit single.
Here’s a revealing quote about the writing camp:
“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.”
Listen to Man Down by Rihanna
Each day I listen to songs and write about artists who only have a single Top 40 hit. We all know there are people who consider a one-hit wonder label a badge of shame.
I see one-hit wonder status as a badge of honor. Particularly for many artists in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s who did things independently. As Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.”
I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t thousands of bands who had stacks of producers behind them to create a single, indelible hit. Exhibit A: Taylor Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud” from 2006. That one had the entire weight of American Idol behind it. All the producers, the stylists, the managers, the handlers, the Soul Patrol. You could argue that song cost a lot more than $1 million to hit the top of the charts.
Check out this list of 24 1970s Number One Songs that Are One-Hit Wonders and try to discern which artists were the independents and which ones had lots of help steering them along. I think there’s a bit of both in the mix.
I don’t care whether someone hits the Billboard Top 40 with a single quirky hit or a lasting anthem. I don’t really care if they did it alone or if brilliant producers and songwriters made it happen.
What I find most amazing is the fact that once in a while, to use the cliche, certain songs capture “lightning in a bottle” and become massive hits.
But no matter how much money you throw at a song, no one can guarantee a hit. “Man Down” by Rihanna sits at #59 this week after six weeks on the chart and hasn’t yet broken the Billboard Top 40.
It’s more proof that a million bucks can buy a lot. But it can’t always buy a hit.
Buy Rihanna music
Filed under: 2000s, Pop · Tags: American Idol, Autobahn, Billboard number one hit, Chumbawamba, Chumbawumba, Do I Make You Proud, Icky Thump, Kraftwerk, Los Del Rio, Macarena, Man Down, number one song, Rihanna, Taylor Hicks, The White Stripes, Tubthumping