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Moving Pictures: Gorillaz video raises a weird question

"Stylo," the newest single from super-group collaborator's Gorillaz hit the intertubes a couple days ago (trailer above -- watch full video here). In case you've been living in a cardboard box the last few years, you'll be aware the group makes their living on collaborating with a wide range of artists, this particular song featuring the staple, Damon Albarn, and guests both Mos Def and Bobby Womack (the video features Bruce Willis to boot). The full-length album, due out next Tuesday, features a wide range of artists, from Lou Reed to Gruff Rhys and more. With all these guests it go us thinking, do these featured artists get paid?

We did some digging and came up with a variety of answers, but nothing too concrete. It looks like many artists negotiate deals beforehand. When a collaboration happens in the name of friendship, these deals are done in private and maybe involve a lunch here or a case of beer there. If the artists are working under the same label, compensation might also come in the form of perks, bonuses or other forms of payment (strippers? crystal meth? sandwiches?).

In the case of cross publisher collaborations, the water gets a bit muddy. In some cases featured guests will be paid similar to studio musicians, one up front payment. In others, perhaps in the case of singles, contracts might be written up that include a percentage of sales. Although rare, these types of contracts likely come when big names are featured on songs by smaller acts (i.e., Kanye West appearing on anything).

The flip side, of course, comes when a big name features a smaller artist (i.e., Kanye West featuring anyone); these collaborations can be seen as potential selling points for upcoming albums, and the exposure, in and of itself, might justify any time spent working on the project.

Ultimately there is really no solid evidence to confirm one way or the other. It appears to be handled on a case by case basis decided by labels, publishers and bands.

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Thorin Klosowski
Contact: Thorin Klosowski