Los Angeles, CA – Happy Birthday!
Multiple Grammy award-winning songwriter Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd recently stopped by the DXHQ to chat with the #DXLive team and promote his Red Bull documentary, Afraid of Forever. With his signature icebreaker greeting, “Happy Birthday,” Poo Bear laid out some knowledge about how he met Justin Bieber, his personal fears, and how the music industry is giving music creators the short end of the stick.
Poo Bear has been the man behind many of your favorite modern-day R&B jams over the years as well as popular Justin Bieber verses since 2015, having 16 writing credits on the Bieb’s platinum-selling album, Purpose. It was a chance meeting, however, that landed him with Bieber. “Hanging out in Vegas and running into Justin Bieber at a birthday party and us just hanging out,” Poo Bear says as he recalls how he met the pop star. “Being cool, having fun and that turned into him hearing my music and him ultimately calling me up to come work with him and kidnapping me for 18 months [Laughs].”
The start of Poo Bear’s career, however, came in 2001 when he wrote “Peaches & Cream” for 112 — their biggest hit to date. After going to write hits for Usher, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and hundreds of others, Poo Bear still manages to ground himself. “As a human being I have this instinctive feeling of falling off or not being relevant. I feel like that but then thank God I have the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, [and] Chance; and the number three song, thank you Justin, Scooter Braun, Daddy Yankee, and Luis Fonsi [for the smash reggaeton hit “Despacito”]. But I definitely have those feelings and they’re great feelings because they keep me hungry. I never get comfortable. I never feel like I made it. I feel like it’s the beginning of my career, always.”
Perhaps his sense of reality comes from the way the music industry treats its creators. Poo Bear took the time to break down what the royalty structure is like for a songwriter. “There’s a performance royalty. Any time a song is performed on the radio, somebody performs it on stage, restaurants, clubs, any performance of the music there [are] different companies that collect for you like ASCAP, BMI, [and] SESAC,” the maligned songwriter described. “There’s like a satellite that signals every time a song is played, there’s a signal code that’s transmitted through a satellite that counts as a spin. Each one of those spins is money.”
“What Do You Mean?,” “Company” & Several In Between: Poo Bear contributed a great chunk of Justin Bieber’s Purpose album, resulting in 17 of its songs charting on the Billboard 100 at the same damn time.
“Streaming is the newest wave that kinda makes it a little bit blurry because streaming is so new [that] they haven’t created streaming laws,” Poo Bear said before expanding on how it can be problematic for an artist to get paid. “They’ve kind of applied other amounts of payments and fees to streaming but it’s really not fair. 1,500 streams of an album is equivalent to one album. It’s ridiculous. And the amount of money per spin is a fraction; it’s [like] .0003 of a cent so you gotta have like 800,000 to a million streams to equal up to a thousand dollars. You do that math. You see people and you think they’re doing amazing [because] they have 100 million streams [but] that’s like what? $10,000? Then there are mechanical royalties also that are pure record sales that vary. Most writers don’t get producer points, which is a percentage of an overall album at 100%, it’s one [percentage] point. If a record sells 1 million [physical] album sales and you have one point [then] you’re looking at about $97,000 in mechanical royalties. [But] It gets blurry when you throw streaming in there because it’s like, ‘Wait how many records did we really sell?’ You don’t know nowadays. I feel like they’re going to have to make a change because it’s not fair. And the writers and producers, the ones who make the music are suffering the most. Labels are making more money than they ever have in their whole careers. Even more than in the 90s when it was bad if you sold a million records. They’re doing their own deals with the streaming companies and they’re not cutting in the writers and artists. There’s no breakage. We don’t know what they’re negotiating with the streaming companies. I just know it’s like the 90s again [where] everybody is excited to be in the music industry. For a period [of time], everybody was trying to get out of the music business. It’s just now getting back [to how it used to be]. The labels are killing it. I know they are. It’s just a matter of these streaming numbers and things becoming more fair for the people who are really creating and going out there selling these songs. The distributor companies and the labels are the only ones who are really benefitting from it.”
The lighter side of the songwriting assassin shined through when asked about that one song he wishes he could take back.
“’Sleep On It’ by Danity Kane,” Poo Bear gleefully recalls. “It wasn’t a single but I filmed it on Making the Band with Puffy. They filmed me doing the record. They made it look like I made the girls cry and ain’t nobody cry. Editing is crazy. I was not proud of that song. When they actually decided to use the record and actually made the album I was like, ‘No. Why?’ Like, I wasn’t even told I was filming that day and the fact they came with nine cameras [and] they actually used the song? I’m not proud of that record. ‘Sleep On It’. I’m not proud of that song but I like Danity Kane. Sorry, Danity Kane.”
Be sure to check out Poo Bear’s Red Bull documentary Afraid Of Forever right here and for more exclusive interviews like this one, be sure to tune into #DXLive every Thursday at 6pm EST/3pm PST on either Facebook/HipHopDX or through the WAV app.