It’s official: “7 Rings” is a chart-topping mega-hit for Ariana Grande, hitting the #1 spot in the Billboard Top 100.
When it comes to receiving songwriting royalties, however, Grande and the track’s other songwriters will only be seeing a tiny fraction of the total payday, with a whopping 90 per cent of the royalties going to famed songwriting duo Rodgers and Hammerstein — who have been deceased for decades!
The reason, reveals the New York Times, is because the song is basically a reworking of “My Favourite Things” from “The Sound of Music”, with Grande’s favourite things including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s and bottles of bubbles” instead of original fave things such as “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.”
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As the Times points out, there are 10 songwriters credited on “7 Rings”, yet the estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein will receive 90 per cent of the royalties due to the value of such “evergreen songs” and “the negotiating leverage their owners have when pop stars come seeking permission” to use those songs.
In fact, the deal for “7 Rings” was only worked out a few weeks prior to the song’s release, when Grande’s record label, Republic, presented the completed song to Concord, the publishing firm that owns the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalog. Concord, reports the Times, asked for 90 per cent of the royalties, a term that the singer’s reps “accepted without further negotiation.”
Speaking with the Times, Jake Wisely, Concord’s chief publishing executive, explained that the song “wouldn’t exist in its current form were it not for ‘My Favorite Things’.”
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But would Rodgers and Hammerstein have approved?
According to Theodore S. Chapin — who has managed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s copyrights for decades — Rodgers’ daughter Mary, who died in 2014, “would have thought this is pretty kickass,” while Todd S. Purdum, author of Something Wonderful: Rodgers And Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution, quipped that the songwriters “would have loved the ka-ching of it.”