Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: Gotye’s artistic principles

Gotye had the best-selling song of 2012 with “Somebody That I Used to Know” and there is a ton of fascinating info behind this track.

First, Gotye’s real name is Wouter “Wally” De Backer and he was based in Australia. The woman on the record is a New Zealand singer named Kimbra. There’s a sample in the song—a 1967 track called “Seville”—that was cleared from a Brazilian artist named Luis Bonfa. The deal stipulated that Gotye would share royalties 55-45 with Bonfa, who got a co-writing credit on the song. The success of “Somebody I Used to Know” made Bonfa a millionaire. Too bad he died in 2001.

Gotye also insisted that there be no pre-roll ads before the song’s music video on YouTube. That means he forfeited more than $10 million in royalties for his artistic principles. He also made the song available online for free, which cost him even more.

Didn’t matter, though. Gotye has been comfortably retired since 2014.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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