Once upon a time, an aspiring artist made a deal with the estate of deceased South American musician Luis Bonfa in order to clear a sample. The deal gave Bonfa, who died in 2001, a writing and production credit on a new song, which used the guitar hook from "Seville." It also netted the late musician 45% of the royalties. At the time, it sounded like a fairly insignificant deal, merely a way for the then unknown artist to pay tribute to an inspiration.
Over one year later, the late Luis Bonfa has become a millionaire.
The artist that the estate struck a deal with happened to be none other than Australia's Gotye, and the deal was for his hit single "Somebody That I Used To Know." The single has thus far netted over 13 million in sales and was the number one song in approximately 24 countries last year. "Somebody That I Used To Know" sat atop the Billboard charts for weeks.
Bonfa's estate is believed to have earned over $1 million thus far, based simply on sales of the single. Factoring in digital streaming and radio airplay royalties, the estate is likely raking in much more money and will continue to be earning millions over the years.
Meanwhile, Gotye is doing pretty good for himself, despite the fact that he splits profits from his biggest single to date with two other artists (in addition to Bonfa, royalties are also doled out to Kimbra, who is featured on the record). While he has not come out with a single nearly as popular as "Somebody That I Used To Know," he has yet to release new music since 2011's Making Mirrors.
Hopefully next time around he just clears the sample.
[via The Daily Swarm]