When a track goes viral online, it changes the lives of the artists that made it. But because no one knows exactly what makes a track go viral, they’re rarely prepared for what comes next. Back in 2010, Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP experienced this with their viral hit ‘We No Speak Americano’. Although the song brought them a lot of rich world experiences as well as going #1 on the charts in 16 countries, there was one vital oversight they didn’t see coming.
Matt from Yolanda Be Cool explains, “So what happened is Jamie (the label manager) started getting calls from labels wanting to sign the record, and that’s when he was like “Oh, we better clear it, hey guys”. And yeah, so he went to Universal who owned the publishing, and they said “Yeah you can clear it, but we’ll take 100% of the (Publishing) income”.”
Based on general industry regulations, Yolanda Be Cool would still be making money off the master side. Whenever the track is used in ads, TV shows, or movies, Universal Music takes 50% of the total income – because they own all the publishing rights. Yolanda Be Cool and all their stakeholders split the other 50% – the master side.
Matt looks back at the situation in good humour and with a level head saying, “We always joked that we should go try and find Renato Carosone’s grandchildren and ask them to buy us a beer because they probably made a lot of money off us. And then the same thing with Universal Recordings. It’s all cleared, but you never know, maybe if we tried to clear it (before) and they’re like, “We’ve never heard of you guys, denied”, and then maybe the song never would have happened, so who knows. I mean, we were thieves, we should have been punished, but no. Look, we could have a nicer house if we had been a bit more forward-thinking, but it is what it is. I honestly hope that Renato’s grandchildren have a nice house.”
Matt and Andy have a whole lot more to say on their journey, before and after We No Speak Americano. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.