The name Sir Mix a Lot is one of the most famous in the world of Hip Hop. If you find that you’re not able to recall any of Sir Mix a Lot’s tracks don’t worry, you’ve definitely heard of at least one of them. Baby Got Back was a Hip Hop song released by rapper Sir Mix a Lot in 1992 which was a song dedicated to appreciating women with more full figures than the skinny models which appeared on TV and in magazines at the time. The song was not the only hit that Sir Mix a Lot had but it was definitely his biggest success and the song that his name has become most synonymous with. While this song wasn’t the rappers only hit, it certainly managed to prolong his career and to date has earned over $100 million. The level of success that the song experienced means that Sir Mix a Lot is in a far better financial situation than bands who have had more hit songs but on a moderate level of success. Why is Sir Mix a Lot richer than bands who have had more than one big hit to their name? Intellectual Property Rights.
In economics, the concept of Intellectual Property Rights is used to encourage innovation so growth can occur. Intellectual Property Rights are a person’s claim of ownership over an idea or concept they have come up with. They can protect their ownership of their idea by patenting it so that they are recognised as the owners of the concept and would be entitled to any revenue that came about from the utilisation of the idea. If there was no such thing as patents there would be way fewer innovations because people’s ideas could be stolen by others too easily. The existence of patents allows for investors to safely make products and be paid for them and it is the same concept that allows Sir Mix a Lot to make a very comfortable living from his song Baby Got Back all the way back in 1992.
In the music industries, artists get paid royalties and receive publishing fees for their contributions to songs that get played on the radio or downloaded or bought. In Sir Mix a Lot’s case he got paid royalties for the initial success of Baby Got Back and down through the years received publishing payments as well whenever the song was used. In 2014 Niki Minaj sampled Baby Got Back in her song Anaconda and Sir Mix a Lot received publishing payments for the use of his song on Minaj’s.
Royalties and publishing rights are what keep songwriters in the money well into their retirement. It’s why Vanilla Ice is still able to fly first class in 2017 and why the songwriters in bands make much more money than the rest of the band. See the video link below where Sir Mix a Lot discusses the money which Baby Got Back made.
By Daragh O’Leary