Published On: August 1, 2019 01:32 PM NPT By: Associated Press

Jury gets a glimpse into costs of making a Katy Perry hit

Jury gets a glimpse into costs of making a Katy Perry hit


It’s expensive to promote a Katy Perry hit, a music executive told a jury that will decide how much the pop superstar and other collaborators on her 2013 song “Dark Horse” will pay the creators of a Christian rap song.

Just how pricey? More than $13,000 for a wardrobe stylist for one night. More than $3,000 for a hairdo and over $800 for a manicure. Nearly $2,000 for flashing cocktail ice cubes. Steve Drellishak, a vice president at Universal Music Group, testified Wednesday that expenses like these are essential to the brand of Perry.

“She always has to be in the most fashionable clothes, the most fashionable makeup,” said Drellishak, who is the first witness to testify after a nine-person jury found that Perry and her “Dark Horse” collaborator improperly copied elements of the 2009 song “Joyful Noise.”

“She changes her look a lot,” Drellishak said. “That’s core to what the Katy Perry brand is.” Attorneys for the creators of “Joyful Noise,” a song by plaintiff Marcus Gray who released it under the stage name “Flame,” say Capitol Records received more than $31 million for the “Dark Horse” single and the album and concert DVD on which it appeared. Attorneys for both sides told the jury Tuesday that Perry herself earned $3 million, minus $600,000 in expenses.

An attorney for Capitol Records told jurors Tuesday that expenses trimmed the label’s profits to roughly $650,000. Capitol Records is owned by Universal Music Group. Drellishak said the huge marketing campaign for the album, manufacturing and digital transmission costs, employee salaries and artist royalties are among the expenses that have to be factored in.

The figures used by Capitol and the defense come partly from dividing the earnings of the album it was on, “Prism,” by the number of tracks on the album — 13 in the original edition, 16 in the deluxe edition. But plaintiff’s attorneys have said that as arguably the biggest hit on the album, the share should be bigger.

Those kinds of calculations, and how more generally to separate the money surrounding a single song from the album, artist and company it comes from, could prove a challenge for jurors. They’re likely to get the case Thursday after closing arguments that are scheduled for morning.

Drellishak’s testimony reflected the massive digital shift the music business has undergone in recent decades, a shift that has also given singles precedence over full albums amid the short attention spans spawned by streaming.

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