It pays to be Sting.
Of course, this is true for many reasons. The songwriter and musician is known throughout the world as both a solo artist and the former frontman of the British-born rock group the Police. His songs, like “Englishman in New York” and “Shape of My Heart,” have gone on to earn him big fame.
But there is another reason why it pays to be Sting. And that’s because hip-hop mogul Diddy (formerly known as Puff Daddy and P. Diddy) reportedly pays Sting $2,000 a day for a sample.
In the late 1990s after his friend the Notorious B.I.G. was brutally shot and killed, Diddy paid tribute to the fallen rapper with the song “I’ll Be Missing You.” That track sampled the Police’s song “Every Breath You Take.” The hook was sung by B.I.G.’s ex-wife Faith Evans.
But Diddy never cleared the sample with Sting and the Police ahead of time. So, now, he pays the band’s frontman $2,000 per day.
If Diddy had asked for and received permission for the song, he most likely would only have had to pay some 25% of the publishing royalties. But due to the nuances of copyright law, Sting was able to claim 100% of the song’s royalties. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Sting earns some $730,000 per year for the sample—which breaks down to about $2,000 per day—via royalties alone.
However, Police guitar player Andy Summers, who is heard on “I’ll Be Missing You,” doesn’t get any of the loot. It’s “the major rip-off of all time,” Summers said in a 2012 interview with A.V. Club.
“It was actually my kid, who was 10 at the time, said, ‘Hey dad, there’s some girl on the radio who’s playing you guys!’” Summers recounted. “I went into his room and listened to his radio, and I was like, ‘This is me, what the f*** is this?’”
In a 2000 interview with Revolver, Police drummer Stewart Copeland also expressed his discontent.
“Sting’s making out like a bank robber here, while Andy and I have gone unrewarded and unloved for our efforts and contributions,” Copeland said at the time.
Photo by: Rich Polk/NBC