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Olivia Rodrigo Has Reportedly Given Up Millions Of Dollars In Royalties To Taylor Swift And Hayley Williams After Being Accused Of Copying Their Songs

After comparisons were made between Rodrigo's music and that of Taylor Swift and Paramore, the 18-year-old offered writing credits, which are proving to be costly.

Posted on September 2, 2021, at 8:46 a.m. ET

Olivia Rodrigo has apparently given a huge percentage of royalties amounting to millions of dollars to Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams, among others, after retroactively giving them credits on some of her most popular songs.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rodrigo's breakout year, which saw her rise to mainstream stardom in January with her debut single, "Drivers License," hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, with the 18-year-old earning multiple No. 1 singles off her first album, Sour.

However, fans claimed to notice similarities between Rodrigo's smash hit "Good 4 U" and Paramore's 2007 single "Misery Business," theories that were only supported by a mashup of the songs, which has since been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.

Geffen / Interscope

Last week, it was then announced that Paramore's Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro had been retroactively given songwriting credits because of the similarities, something that Williams reacted to in an Instagram story.

Instagram: @https://www.instagram.com/yelyahwilliams/?hl=en

Various reports at the time claimed that, although they weren't originally credited, Rodrigo's team had been in touch with Williams and Farro about the song.

But this wasn't the first time that Rodrigo had offered writing credits to other artists for their apparent influence on her work — back in July, it was reported that she'd added Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, and St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) to the credits on "Deja Vu," another one of her top 10 hits.

This addition was apparently down to the interpolation of Swift's song "Cruel Summer" from her 2019 album Lover. The interpolation of a song basically means that parts of that record's composition have been rerecorded and turned into something new. This differs from a sample, which is just lifting a snippet from an original song.

A clearer example of interpolation on Rodrigo's album can be seen on the track "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back," which re-creates the piano melody from Swift's 2017 song "New Year's Day" and credits both Swift and Antonoff.

"I came up with the '1 Step Forward' concept and I sort of wrote a verse and a chorus," Olivia explained in an interview with Zach Sang. "I was in the car on a road trip, and when I got home, I decided to sing it over the chords of 'New Year's Day.' I think they're really beautiful chords. I was lucky enough to get that approved, and it's on the record."

Now, a new report by Billboard claims that as a result of offering songwriting credits on some of her most popular songs, Rodrigo has given up a huge sum of money in royalties.

David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images

According to the report, published on Wednesday, Paramore's Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro will now receive a combined royalty share of 50% for "Good 4 U," a song that shot to No. 1 on the Hot 100 before sitting at No. 2 for a record-tying 11 weeks. Rodrigo and her collaborator Daniel Nigro would therefore split the remaining 50%.

For "Deja Vu," Billboard estimated that Swift, Antonoff, and Clark would receive a combined share of 50%, with Rodrigo and Nigro again splitting the rest. Swift and Antonoff would also receive around a third of the royalties each for "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back," with Rodrigo claiming the final third for writing the song by herself.

This amounts to a pretty hefty sum of money. Billboard claims that Williams and Farro could be receiving around $1.2 million following the success of "Good 4 U," while Swift and her writing team could also be cashing in.

Fueled by Ramen

For "Deja Vu," the report predicts that Swift has earned $325,678 in publishing royalties, with Antonoff potentially taking $260,542 while Clark earns $65,135.

For "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back," Billboard further estimates that Swift, Antonoff, and Rodrigo will have cashed in around $86,000. 

BuzzFeed News has reached out to reps of Rodrigo for comment and clarity on those numbers.

One artist who didn't have a problem with Rodrigo taking influence from their work was Elvis Costello, who responded to accusations that a guitar riff from one of his songs had been copied for Rodrigo's album-opener "Brutal."

"This is fine by me," Costello tweeted. "It's how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That's what I did."

Last week, Adam Levine also stepped in to defend Rodrigo against accusations of copying other artists, explaining that it was a "gray area" in the music industry.

Pablo Porciuncula / AFP via Getty Images

"These are tricky things and anyone who's ever written a song knows that you rip something off inadvertently, and it makes it to tape, and then it's released and then there's a lawsuit," the Maroon 5 lead singer said on Instagram. "It's a natural thing for it to happen, and sometimes it gets ugly and sometimes it's warranted that people take legal action." 

He added: "Sometimes it's not warranted that people take legal action. And I think there's definitely become more of a gray area that's reared its ugly head these days."

"I do think that we should probably meet this with a little more compassion and understanding and try to find a way…" he finished. "All this calling out, it's like, music is a creative thing and I just hate to see it crushed."

You can read Billboard's report in full here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.