How Much Does It Actually Cost to Make a Best-Selling Hit Song?

hit song

It’s amazing to think how many songs exist that have sold literally millions of copies around the world. When you add together all the songs in the top 40 in all the charts around the world, all the digital downloads, and all the CD and vinyl sales; it’s a mind-boggling amount of money made.

However, one of the less-pondered but equally intriguing questions is just how much it takes to make one of these songs. After all, writing the song, producing it, recording it, scripting and making the video and distributing out across a range of platforms, and then marketing, all costs money.

It’s interesting to see how much is made, or maybe how much it would cost for you to create a hit song from scratch, perhaps trying your own hand to top the charts. Let’s find out.

The Cost of Writing the Song

First thing’s first; you’re going to need the lyrics to the song you’re going to sing. Of course, you can write the song yourself for free (or however much you would have spent with your time), but you’re probably going to need a writer or ghost-writer to go over it and polish it up.

“If you’re looking to get big, you’ll want a writer who has experience writing popular music which, of course, isn’t going to be cheap. For a song like Rihanna’s ‘Man Down,’ the song was written in about 12 minutes but was charged a day from some of the top writers who came together to brainstorm ideas and collaborate,” shares Jason Turner, a songwriter for Brit Student and 1Day2Write.

Also, instruments and sounds need to be brainstormed and written up to suit the lyrics at the same time, so it all comes together to create a song.

All in all, the cost of writing the hit like that was close to the $200,000 mark.

Recording & Equipment

Once the song is written and finalized, you’ll need to record the song and all the different parts that need to come together. Of course, the band or producers will need to practice their parts, and then you’ll need to bring everyone together to record the final piece or at least have everyone in a studio setting.

This cost will of course vary depending on how many people you’re using and whereabouts in the world you are. The more instruments, the more people and the more time you need, the more expensive the costs will be.

For example, if you’re in the band Pangea, for all your equipment, the studios, the rental and cables, etc., you’re probably looking around the $8,500 mark. However, if you’re going for something smaller and need a premium quality demo with a six-piece band and vocalist, you’re probably looking around the $700 mark, depending on where you’re based.

Marketing Your Song

“Once your song is produced and edited (which we didn’t include in the price above), you’re going to need to get your songs out to the masses, which means marketing and advertising. This is perhaps the most you’re going to spend, but it will depend on how you’re spending and where,” explains Nick Harry, a music producer for Australia2Write and WriteMYX.

For example, if you’re buying billboards and posters, plus the man-hours you need to put them out , the cost will be way more than advertising online, but then if you advertise in premium spots, like YouTube videos and using AdWords, you could end up paying a lot more.

There’s no definitive guide to how much you’ll spend on advertising, and a single unpaid post could end up going viral if done properly, but a ballpark figure would be around $50,000, bringing the overall total for creating a hit pop song to around $75,000.

A writer and editor at Academic Brits and Origin Writings, Ellen Lawton has a keen interest in music marketing but also nurtures a big love for audio technology thus combining the two in her research. She also works alongside musicians to create creation strategies and, in her spare time, she writes for online music magazines and blogs.

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