Australian musical artist Gotye had an inescapable #1 hit song in the early part of this decade, but now he’s just somebody that you used to know. And according to news.com.au, Gotye is not even enjoying the spoils of his massive success. The site reports that Gotye, born Wally de Backer, opted against pre-roll ads on his YouTube channel, which cost him millions in royalties in light of nearly a billion views accumulated by his Kimbra duet “Somebody That I Used To Know.” As the article explains, Korean one-hit wonder PSY made $10 million in YouTube royalties when “Gangnam Style” surpassed 2 billion views, and “Somebody That I Used To Know” is currently just shy of a billion. So it seems Gotye gave up about $5M due to his aversion to advertising. Here’s his admirable explanation:
I’m not interested in selling my music. That’s the reason I don’t put ads on my YouTube channel, which seems strange to people in today’s climate, but that is a decision you can make. I’m like that with all my music. I generally never want to synch my music for products (on ads). Ads are calling for our attention anywhere we turn in the world. If you can do something you care about and that other people care about and keep it out that world that feels like it’s all about “hey buy this stuff” then that’s a good thing.
I don’t mind synching my music with creative projects like TV or film. I’ve got my own set of rules I made, if a student film wants to use my film I say yes across the board, there’s no money involved. If someone wants to use it commercially I look at what the budget is and the creativity of the project.
Gotye also agreed up front to give 50% of his “Somebody That I Used To Know” royalties to the estate of Luiz Bonfa, whose 1967 song “Seville” is sampled on the track. Here’s Gotye again:
There was a moment where I could have considered going to court, but I didn’t want to spend that time of my life doing that. The incredible work that my managers did protected me from very far reaching requests for percentages of my songwriting. In the end I decided it made more sense to focus on creative things and not get hung up on money and lawyers and courts. You don’t want to be in places that drain your energy.
Other revelations from the feature: Gotye lives in Brooklyn now! He wrapped up touring behind 2011’s Making Mirrors in 2013 and spent some of the interim making an album and touring Australia with his other band, the Basics, for which he is the drummer. He also took a creative detour to Australia’s northeastern wilderness territory, Arnhem Land, where he met with legendary didgeridoo player Djalu Gurruwiwi and was filmed for the new documentary Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy. And he’s spent the past two years working on his fourth album under the Gotye name, which presumably is coming soon. Interesting character, that Gotye!