In Ariana Grande‘s boastful smash single “7 Rings,” the pop star sings about lashes, diamonds and ATM machines, riffing on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music favorite “My Favorite Things.” But it’s the long-deceased songwriters behind the classic, which was introduced on Broadway in 1959 and made even more famous in a 1965 movie, who are really raking in the dough.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who are credited among 10 songwriters on “7 Rings,” control 90 percent of the track’s songwriting royalties, The New York Times first reported and Billboard can confirm. More specifically, those dollars are received by Concord, the music company that has owned the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalog since 2017.
According to theTimes, representatives for Grande and her label, Republic, brought the completed song to Concord just weeks before the track’s release in January. When Concord requested a 90 percent cut of the songwriting royalties, Grande’s representatives accepted.
As “7 Rings” hits No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the sixth time this week, Concord has everything to gain from the striking split. “7 rings” has topped 444.5 million Spotify streams, while its music video has generated more than 330 million views. Meanwhile, each of the track’s eight other songwriters — including Tayla Parx, Victoria Monét and Grande herself — are receiving just a fraction of Concord’s check. (Grande also makes separate earnings as the recording artist.)
Gwen Stefani has been in a similar — albeit less drastic — situation with her 2006 song “Wind It Up,” which interpolates The Sound of Music‘s “Lonely Goatherd.” For Stefani’s track, Rodgers and Hammerstein received 50 percent of royalties. The discrepancy between Stefani’s deal and Grande’s could reflect Concord’s negotiating power; or, it could simply be that “My Favorite Things” is the more iconic and valuable track.
Interviewed by the Times, Theodore S. Chapin, the executive who has managed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s copyrights for decades, said he thought Grande’s track would have struck a chord with Rodgers’ composer daughter, who died in 2014. She “would have thought this is pretty kick-ass.”
This article was updated to correct an error in the original release date of “My Favorite Things.”