Magazine Feature

Adele Windfall: This is How the '25' Songwriters & Producers Split Up Over $13 Million


Adele performing at the 2015 NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France on Nov. 7, 2015.

Adele's 25 is a gift that keeps on giving to the music business, spreading wealth beyond her labels (XL and Columbia/Sony) and publisher (Universal) to retailers, ­performing rights organizations and, not least, the 16 songwriters and producers who collaborated with her on the album.

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The chart below reflects how much each of them has earned from songwriting and producing so far (criteria explained below), using the appropriate standard statutory rates and formulas for sales and interactive and noninteractive streaming, and an estimated hit-song rate of $2.50 per spin for radio airplay. Those rates were applied to U.S. sales of 8 million, such U.S. digital radio noninteractive streaming as ­iHeartRadio simulcasts (excluding Pandora, which does not report its playlists to Nielsen Music), such U.S. ­interactive streaming as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube (only for the single "Hello") and U.S. radio airplay. All airplay and sales data were supplied by Nielsen Music through the week ending Jan. 28.

Billboard estimates that Adele -- who ­co-wrote each song on the album -- and other songwriters have reaped almost $9.6 million in royalties; the songwriters' publishers combined have taken in nearly $1.9 million. The album's 13 producers and co-producers (many of whom are also songwriters) shared $3.1 million.

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And with the Grammy Awards just days away, expect those numbers to grow ­significantly.

* Sales of the deluxe edition, available exclusively in the United States from Target, are estimated at 1.8 million. Songwriter splits are assumed to be divided evenly among the songs' co-writers, based on information from sources with knowledge of the situation or news reports of the writers' publishing deals, although individual writers' deals vary widely. In most instances, the songwriters own their publishing and have administrative deals with publishers (an 85-to-15 percent split), except for a co-publishing deal (a 75-to-25 percent split) and two straight publishing deals (50-to-50 percent split). Producers' royalties are based on the standard superstar producer rate of 4 percent per track for master recordings.

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of Billboard.