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Gotye’s Obscure Sample Costs Him $1 Million

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Gotye (Frederick M. Brown Getty Images)

Gotye (Frederick M. Brown Getty Images)

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Jay Tilles Jay is the rock producer for Radio.com. Prior work...
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It was not only Gotye’s most popular song ever, but “Somebody that I Used To Know” was the best-selling Australian single of all time and still remains on the Aussie charts one year later. The GRAMMY-winning track put him, along with featured vocalist Kimbra, on the world stage, claiming chart positions in a whopping 32 countries.

But what may come has a surprise to many, is that “Somebody that I Used To Know” was formed around an obscure guitar riff from an artist only the hippest of jazz-loving parents will know. Gotye sampled a portion of Luiz Bonfa’s 1967 song “Seville,” which can be heard here.

A Brazilian classical guitarist who died nearly decade ago, Bonfa was generously given a co-writing credit by Gotye on the song. He is also said to have inspired the song’s first few lyrics.

Gotye, who could not have predicted the song’s runaway success, inked early deal awarding 45 percent of the song’s royalties to Bofa’s estate, according to Australia’s Courier Mail.

From the over 13 million copies sold, the Courier Mail estimated Bonfa’s estate will reap in excess of $1 million, which does not take into account YouTube plays or streaming royalties which will likely continue for decades to come. For Bonfa’s family, music really is the gift that keeps on giving.

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