Peter Waterman has helped write music on over a dozen number one hits in the UK for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Donna Summer, Bananarama and other pop artists, but he is best known for the Rick Astley song he co-wrote called “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The “rickrolling” Internet prank of sending a hidden link to the song’s video on YouTube has led to millions of plays for the 1980s hit, but Waterman isn’t content with the publicity: he wants to get paid.
“There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, ‘I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling’,” Waterman said at a press conference (via Telegraph). When he got an £11 (about $16) check from Google, however, he felt shorted by a few bob. “Panorama did a documentary on the exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai,” Waterman, who is reportedly worth almost $70 million, said. “I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year’s work off Google or YouTube than they did off the Bahrain government.”
Sure, getting paid an amount equal to one cocktail at the Bowery Ballroom is skimpy compensation for over 150 million plays on YouTube, but keep in mind that Waterman is only one third of the team that wrote the song and then you have to compensate Rick Astley (whose Tay Zonday-esque baritone was probably the biggest part of the fad). For Waterman to say that he spent the year as an exploited laborer for Google is ridiculous.
YouTube should compensate songwriters better, but maybe they need a better spokesman for the cause.