Putting a Price Tag on Pop Success

How much does it cost to manufacture a hit song? Using Rihanna’s latest album, which began in a song factory “writing camp” — where “a record label hires the best music writers in the country and drops them into the nicest recording studios in town for about two weeks” — NPR estimates $78,000:

The cost of the writing camp, plus fees for the songwriter, producer, vocal producer and the mix comes to $78,000.

That’s before the “roll-out,” which includes marketing, flying the artist around, and getting cozy with the “radio guys.” The roll-out is by far the most expensive part, at about $1 million. And all that — $1,078,000 — only sets the song up for success, which, at least for now, still can’t be bought straight-out.

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