Regardless of the emotions involved — and there are many, ranging from “hurtful” to “lol” — in the song that, we learned today, Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris co-wrote while still together, this is still a business. And a pretty lucrative one.
Let’s break it down. Calvin Harris’ “This Is What You Came Here For,” featuring Rihanna, has generated about $511,000 in publishing income, Billboard estimates, based on sales of nearly 743,000; streaming plays (both audio and video interactive) of 108 million and radio spins of 129,000.
Harris and Swift each have a 50 percent share in the track. Both songwriters likely own their publishing interests, and each uses Sony/ATV to administer their catalogs.
Of that, radio has produced the most income, an estimated $323,000, while digital track sales generated about $68,000, and audio-only interactive streaming generated $112,000.
But, before the take-home of each songwriter can be estimated, we have to figure out how much of the publishing is from performance licensing. Performance rights organizations — ASCAP and BMI in this case — traditionally take 13 percent for their trouble, which needs to be subtracted before splitting the remainder of the money up between Harris and Swift. In the case of Harris, he is signed to the U.K.’s PRS and ASCAP in the U.S., while Swift is a member of BMI.
After the PROs take their cut, the songwriters are left with $454,704 to split. As the owners of their publishing, each probably gets at least 85 percent of that, or $193,000, with Sony getting $34,000 from each songwriter’s share.
Harris, however, will make more money than Swift on this recording of the song because he is the artist as well as the songwriter. Between sales and streams, the label will take in about $1.2 million. If Harris has a record contract that pays 22 cents on the dollar (a split usually reserved for bankable stars), then his take, before recoupables (money the label has “fronted” for marketing, production and the like), will be about $272,000.
Since Harris also produced the song, he will get 4 points out of the 22 percent artist royalty, which would leave 18 percent to be split between Harris and Rihanna. If it was split evenly, Harris’ total take as the artist and producer so far, before recoupable, would be about $161,000 and Rihanna’s about $111,000.
When all is said and done, Swift would get about $193,000 for co-writing the song, while co-writer (and performer and producer) Harris would get $354,000.