Last week, in an effort to avoid the kind of litigation that resulted in Marvin Gaye’s family prying millions of “Blurred Lines” dollars from Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ fingers, the publishers of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ record-setting #1 smash hit “Uptown Funk!” awarded a songwriting credit to five writers behind the Gap Band’s 1979 hit “Oops Up Side Your Head.” The “Uptown Funk!” team had already voluntarily shared credit with Nicholaus Williams (aka Trinidad James) and Devon Gallaspy, the writers of James’ “All Gold Everything,” because “Uptown Funk!” interpolates that song’s hook, “Don’t believe me just watch.” When you factor in Ronson, Mars, and other songwriters Phillip Martin Lawrence and Jeffrey Bhasker, that’s a lot of people getting a piece of that extremely sweet pie.
Now Billboard has a breakdown of who gets what, financially speaking. Here it is by percentage:
Bhasker/SonyATV: 17 percent.
Gallaspy/SonyATV: 7.5 percent.
Ronson/Imagem: 17 percent.
Gap Band/Minder: 17 percent.
Lawrence: 17 percent.
Trinidad James/Trinlanta: 5.625 percent.
Trinidad James Record label/TIG7 Publishing: 1.875 percent.
Mars/Mars Force Music/BMG Chrysalis: 14.875 percent.
Mars/Northside Independent Music/Warner/Chappel Music: 2.125 percent.
Warner/Chappell, through its January 2011 acquisition of Southside Independent Music, owns 25 percent of Mars publishing — but collects only its 12.5 percent share (in this instance 12.5 percent of 17 percent, or 2.125 percent) as BMG administers all of Mars’ writer share.
Billboard estimates that the song has generated about $840,000 in songwriting royalties so far based on mechanicals (CD sales, digital downloads, and streams) and plays of official YouTube videos. So the Gap Band guys are splitting $142,000, and Trinidad James takes home a little more than $47,000. Keep in mind that songwriting/publishing royalties only account for a small portion of a hit song’s profit; Ronson and Mars are also getting performance royalties, and their labels are making a pretty penny too.