Rapper and producer Sean Combs, better known as Diddy, quickly retracted his claim that he pays Sting $5,000 per day in royalties for sampling the former Police frontman’s 1983 hit, Every Breath You Take.
Diddy in 1997 released the Grammy Award-winning track, I’ll Be Missing You, which he performed with singer Faith Evans and R&B group 112. The song was a tribute to Diddy’s fellow Bad Boy Records artist and Evans’ husband, the Notorious B.I.G., or Christopher Wallace.
The track, which sampled the Police’s Every Breath You Take, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks. On Spotify, Diddy’s song has been streamed over 443 million times, far less than the almost 1.5 billions streams of the original song by the Police.
In an interview with The Breakfast Club in 2018, Sting — whose real name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner — confirmed that Diddy did not seek permission to sample the song, and had agreed to pay him $2,000 per day for “the rest of his life.”
That interview resurfaced on Twitter last week, and Diddy retweeted the video of the interview, saying the deal was in fact $5,000 a day.
“Nope. 5K a day. Love to my brother @OfficialSting!” said the rapper.
Multiple media outlets reported the figure, but Diddy now says it was a joke.
“I want y’all to understand I was joking! It’s called being Facetious!”
“I want y’all to understand I was joking! It’s called being Facetious! Me and @OfficialSting have been friends for a long time! He never charged me $3K or $5K a day for Missing You. He probably makes more than $5K a day from one of the biggest songs in history.”
It remains unclear how much the actual licensing figure was for Diddy to use The Police classic, but Sting in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone said he had put “a couple of my kids through college with the proceeds, and me and P. Diddy are good pals still.”
“Those guys just take your shit, put it on a record and deal with the legality later. Elton John told me, ‘You gotta hear [I’ll Be Missing You], you’re gonna be a millionaire!’ I said, ‘I am a millionaire!’ He said, ‘You’re gonna be a millionaire twice over!’” Sting told Rolling Stone at the time.
Aside from Diddy, Sting has also profited from the late Juice WRLD’s sample of his track, Shape of My Heart in the rapper’s 2018 track, Lucid Dreams. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Lucid Dreams producer Nick Mira, in 2018, claimed that Sting and his team took 85% of Lucid Dreams “for interpolating Shape of My Heart, not even sampling.”
“He threatened to take us to court for trying to get any %. Sting also flexed stealing our money and said it put his grandkids through college,” Mira said in a tweet in 2018.
Mira’s claims came even after Sting told Billboard during the same year that Lucid Dreams is a “beautiful interpretation that is faithful to the original song’s form.”
Dominic Miller, Sting’s guitarist who co-wrote Shape of My Heart agreed, saying: “I thought it was the most intelligent version of that riff that I’ve ever heard.”
“I was really happy with it. I love what he’s saying. He talking about something everyone can relate to, which is a breakup. It’s done in a very beautiful way. We’re really happy for his success and, of course, for us too.”
A year later, Juice WRLD (aka Jarad Higgins) was sued for $15 million over allegedly infringing Holly Wood Died, a track by pop-punk band Yellowcard, in Lucid Dreams. The lawsuit claimed that Lucid Dreams also copied Sting’s Shape of My Heart.
Yellowcard members were represented in the lawsuit by Richard Busch, who represented Irish band The Script when they sued British singer James Arthur for alleged copyright infringement in his hit, Say You Won’t Let Go.
Busch also represented Eminem’s publisher, Eight Mile Style, in a lawsuit against Spotify in 2019.
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