DJ duo behind this spring's surprise dance hit inks seven-figure contracts.
This article was first published in the May 17th issue of Billboard Magazine.
The overnight success of The Chainsmokers is a testament to the power of social media's viral nature and the ability of DJ-producers Alex Pall, 28, and Andrew Taggart, 24, to capture the zeitgeist. Now, the No. 1 music publisher and the head of one of the biggest label groups are betting that the creators of "#Selfie" are no one-hit wonders -- both signing the duo to seven-figure deals.
Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Martin Bandier and his team had been keeping an eye on the EDM act for some months. But neither Bandier's team -- nor Republic Records, which had signed The Chainsmokers a few weeks before the publisher's deal -- expected "#Selfie" to blow up as big and as fast as it did.
"We were already in talks but this added whipped cream to the cake," says Bandier. "It made us add a little more money to the deal. I do mean a little." Sony/ATV isn't talking about the terms, but it's believed to be worth over $1 million, according to a person familiar with the terms.
The New York DJs first drew attention from the big labels after a series of successful dance remixes. They signed with Creative Artists Agency for touring. They were cooking up fun ways to promote their show at Liv, a Miami nightclub, when the idea for "#Selfie" arose.
"We had this idea to make this video of selfies of our friends and fans," says Adam Alpert, the duo's manager. The song was literally put together in an hour and was meant to be a bit of a joke. It went up on SoundCloud for free, and a mutual friend suggested it to DJ Steve Aoki's Dim Mak label, which promptly signed the act to a three-song deal. The song broke onto Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart on March 1.
Within days of the song's release, every major label was calling with a deal offer, says Alpert. In late February, Dim Mak did a pressing and distribution deal with Republic for three songs in the United States. According to a person familiar with the terms, Dim Mak received a $250,000 advance and 70 percent of master royalties (less expenses).
The Chainsmokers signed a multi-album deal with Republic simultaneously, to take effect once the obligation to Dim Mak is fulfilled. The Republic deal is said to be worth over $1 million, according to two people familiar with the terms.
To date, "#Selfie" has been downloaded over 726,000 times (according to Nielsen SoundScan), peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has been viewed on YouTube nearly 100 million times. Billboard estimates the song has generated more than $2 million thus far.
Additional reporting by Ed Christman and Reggie Ugwu