*HERITAGE ARTIST: The typical royalty rate for a heritage act — an artist or band with an output that spans decades, not just a handful of albums — is 20 to 25 percent. Those that want a royalty rate north of that often negotiate a 360 deal whereby the act receives a big advance and splits the profits from record sales in exchange for sharing revenue from other such income streams as touring and merchandise with the label.
One heritage act that has defied that norm — in a spectacular way — is The Beatles. According to sources, Apple Corps negotiated royalty rates of approximately 45 percent on Beatles CDs and vinyl and at least 50 percent for digital downloads. Since The Beatles’ music first went up on iTunes in 2010, the band’s catalog has scanned 18 million downloads, earning $16.2 million, with at least $8.1 million going to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the heirs of John Lennon and George Harrison. At the time the Beatles-iTunes deal was first negotiated, Apple Corps secured the unheard-of right to collect revenue from Beatles music sales directly. Apple paid The Beatles, and then The Beatles paid their label, Capitol. Typically, it’s the other way around.
All salaries are annual unless otherwise specified.
Reporting by Jem Aswad, Megan Buerger, Ed Christman, Shirley Halperin, Andrew Hampp, Glenn Peoples, Alex Pham, Jeff Rabhan, Phyllis Stark and Ray Waddell.
This story first appeared in the June 27 issue of Billboard.