Gotye isn’t interested in money.
The Australian singer behind the smash single “Somebody That I Used To Know”, which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks in 2008 and has nearly 1 billion views on YouTube, recently spoke with news.com.au about the success of the song, and why he chose not to monetize it.
Though song was a massive hit, Gotye, who now goes by his real name Wally de Backer, has generally turned down offers to use his music in commercial ventures. He also chose not to put any pop-up ads on the YouTube video for “Somebody That I Used To Know”, which might have made him up to $5 million, according to the article.
“I’m not interested in selling my music,” de Backer said. “That’s the reason I don’t put ads on my You Tube channel, which seems strange to people in today’s climate, but that is a decision you can make. I’m like that with all my music.”
“Ads are calling for our attention anywhere we turn in the world,” de Backer continued. “If you can do something you care about and that other people care about and keep it out that world that feels like it’s all about ‘hey buy this stuff’ then that’s a good thing.”
That’s not to say de Backer is completely opposed to letting others use his music. “I don’t mind synching my music with creative projects like TV or film,” he says. “I’ve got my own set of rules I made, if a student film wants to use my film I say yes across the board, there’s no money involved. If someone wants to use it commercially I look at what the budget is and the creativity of the project.”
After the his Gotye tour ended, de Backer decided to go back to working with his band The Basics. His bandmate Kris Schroeder spoke about what it’s like to play with de Backer.
“People know the Gotye thing and they love it, but it’s a bit of a blessing and a curse for The Basics,” Schroeder said. “It brings a lot of people to us. Some of those people might go ‘Oh rock and roll, what’s this?’ and go away. And at the same time people who might be into it think ‘Oh Gotye’s in it, that’s not my cup of tea’ so they don’t really give it a crack when they might like it. There’s a bit of a disconnect trying to have people understand who it is we are.”
“But when I get to see Wally play behind the drums and see him sing — to me that’s him,” Schroeder added. “The Gotye stuff is a different side of him.”
De Backer is currently at work on his fourth Gotye album, and he also appears in the documentary “Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy”, premiering next month at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The singer also talked about the settlement he made with the estate of Luiz Bonfa, whose song “Seville” de Backer used a sample from as the basis for his own hit.
“There’s never been lawsuits,” de Backer explained. “There was a moment where I could have considered going to court, but I didn’t want to spend that time of my life doing that. The incredible work that my managers did protected me from very far reaching requests for percentages of my songwriting. In the end I decided it made more sense to focus on creative things and not get hung up on money and lawyers and courts. You don’t want to be in places that drain your energy.”