Diddy pays Sting $5k a day for “Every Breath You Take” sample he used for “I’ll Be Missing You” without permission

Legendary musician Sting sold his music catalog for hundreds of millions of dollars last year—but he’s still raking in almost $2 million a year in royalties from a single song.

That’s according to rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, who tweeted on Wednesday that he pays Sting $5,000 a day to use a sample from the 1983 hit “Every Breath You Take.”

The song, which was released by the band the Police, was written by Sting, the British group’s frontman.

Diddy sampled the song in his 1997 single “I’ll Be Missing You,” a tribute to the late rapper Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace—also known as Biggie Smalls and Biggie—who had been killed at the age of 24 in a drive-by shooting months earlier.

Diddy’s homage to Notorious B.I.G.—who was signed to his record label Bad Boy Records and was a close friend of the rapper—became a hit, spending 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 after its release.

However, Diddy, who previously went by the stage name Puff Daddy, reportedly did not seek Sting’s permission to sample his song before “I’ll Be Missing You” was released.

In a 2018 interview with The Breakfast Club, Sting spoke about the financial relationship he had with Diddy when he was asked if it was true he received a daily stipend of $2,000 from the hip-hop star for use of his track.

When footage of the interview resurfaced on social media recently, Diddy responded to set the record straight, and revealed that he actually pays Sting closer to $5,000 a day.

That would see Sting pocket more than $1.8 million a year in royalties from Diddy.

In the old footage, Sting joked that Diddy had to pay him “for the rest of his life,” confirming that the rapper had asked him for permission to use his song “after the fact.”  

However, he noted that the pair were “very good friends now.”

Sting previously spoke about his royalties from Diddy’s hit in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone.

“Those guys just take your s**t, put it on a record and deal with the legality later,” he said.

“Elton John told me, ‘You gotta hear [‘I’ll Be Missing You’], you’re gonna be a millionaire!’ I said, ‘I am a millionaire!’ He said, ‘You’re gonna be a millionaire twice over!’ I put a couple of my kids through college with the proceeds, and me and P. Diddy are good pals still.”

Last year, Sting sold his entire music catalog—encompassing usage rights and all future royalties—to Universal Records for an estimated $300 million.


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