Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Pays Sting $2K a Day for Sampling ‘Every Breath You Take’?

Claim:

Rapper Diddy pays former Police frontman Sting $2,000 a day for sampling the song “Every Breath You Take” on Diddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You.”

Rating:

Unproven

For years, the unsubstantiated claim has circulated on social media and in various news outlets that record producer and hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs reportedly pays English musician Sting $2,000 a day in royalties for sampling “Every Breath You Take,” the 1983 hit song by Sting’s former band The Police, on Diddy’s 1997 track “I’ll Be Missing You.” The claim recently gained renewed attention due to social media posts on TikTok and Instagram that reiterated this assertion.

For instance, on June 24, 2024, the claim was posted to X by the account Joshua Owings, who wrote, “Diddy pays Sting $2,000 a day because he sampled ‘ Every Breath You Take’ without permission.” The claim was also shared to X in April 2023 by the account GirlTyler, where it amassed more than 675,000 views, as of this writing.

Sting’s Statement Caused Diddy Discussion 

The suggestion of $2,000 originated from a 2018 interview on the iHeart radio show “The Breakfast Club,” where host Charlamagne Tha God interviewed Sting (real name Gordon Sumner) alongside his friend and musical collaborator Jamaican-American reggae artist Shaggy. The exchange occurred around the 7-minute, 19-second mark: 

Charlamagne Tha God: “Is it true that Diddy has to pay you 2 grand a day because he didn’t have permission to sample “Every Breath You Take”?

Sting: “Yeah.”

Charlamagne Tha God: “Wow!”

Sting: “For the rest of his life.”

Charlamagne Tha God: “Wow!

Sting: “If it’s on the radio — it ain’t fake news.”

Charlamagne Tha God: “But did he ask you for permission?”

Sting: “Yes, he did.”

Charlamagne Tha God: “After the fact?”

Sting: “Yes, he did.

Shaggy: “It was after.”

Sting: “We’re very good friends now.”

It was unclear at the time if Sting’s responses to Charlamagne Tha God were serious or in jest. Nonetheless, the viral clip resurfaced on social media five years later in early April 2023 on the X account Black Millionaires, receiving 12.4 million views, as of this writing:

This post from Black Millionaires prompted Diddy to respond. He posted to X the same day to correct the alleged figure that Sting had apparently affirmed while on “The Breakfast Club,” writing: “Nope. 5K a day. Love to my brother @OfficialSting ! ✊.”

Following Diddy’s post to X, which has received 8.6 million views as of this writing, several reputable news outlets reported on Diddy’s supposed correction, publishing the unproven figure of $5,000 a day, potentially contributing to the confusion. For instance, the NME wrote that, “Diddy has claimed that he has been forced to pay Sting $5,000 (£4,020) each day for the rest of his life,” while CNBC reiterated that sentiment.

However, days later, on April 7, 2023, Diddy took to X again, this time to walk back his earlier tweet and to inform his followers that the amount he pays Sting for the sample is not as high as he had initially posted, claiming his earlier tweet was a joke: “I want y’all to understand I was joking! It’s called being Facetious! Me and @OfficialSting have been friends for a long time! He never charged me $3K or $5K a day for Missing You. He probably makes more than $5K a day from one of the biggest songs in history.”

While multiple outlets reported on Diddy’s supposed correction, his tweet failed to address Sting’s stated figure of $2,000, and Sting has never affirmed Diddy’s purported amount of $5,000. Therefore, because neither recording artist has officially publicly affirmed or agreed on a dollar amount for the royalty payments, and because we found no additional evidence to affirm either suggested figure, we have rated this claim as “Unproven.”

Every Royalty Sting Makes

In 2022, Sting reportedly sold his entire music catalog to Universal Music Group in a deal said to be estimated around $300 million. This sale included all of Sting’s work as a songwriter, including his solo output and songs recorded with The Police, such as “Every Breath You Take.” According to The New York Times, “Sting’s deal covers both the copyrights for his songs — which total more than 600 — and his royalties as a songwriter, which means that Universal would stand to receive all future music publishing income from his work. In 2019, the licensing agency BMI said that ‘Every Breath You Take,’ from 1983, had become the most-performed song in its catalog of over 14 million pieces.”

Snopes has reached out to representatives of Sting, his former Police bandmates, Diddy, and Universal Music Publishing for comment regarding the royalty payments for “Every Breath You Take.” So far, no official confirmation or detailed breakdown of the royalties has been provided.

Diddy’s 1997 track, “I’ll Be Missing You,” featuring R&B singer Faith Evans, was a tribute to rapper Notorious B.I.G., who was murdered earlier that year. The song heavily sampled the guitar melody of “Every Breath You Take” from The Police album “Synchronicity.” “I’ll Be Missing You” achieved massive commercial success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 11 weeks.

The Police were a new-wave trio composed of Sting on lead vocals and bass guitar, Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums. On “Every Breath You Take,” only Sting received a songwriting credit. However, the sample used on “I’ll Be Missing You” does not feature Sting’s vocals or Copeland’s drumming — the only part of The Police song that is sampled is Summers’ guitar melody.

In October 2023, Summers appeared on the podcast The Jeremy White Show, where he was asked why he never received a songwriting co-credit for the track. Summers responded, “It’s a very contentious [topic] — it’s very much alive at the moment,” hinting at a potential legal battle. “Watch the press; let’s see what happens in the next year. … But that song was going in the trash until I played on it.”

Three years after the release of Diddy’s “Every Breath You Take,” in a 2000 interview with The Police for Revolver Magazine, the three band members engaged in a jovial argument over royalty payments for the song. Per Sting’s official website:

Copeland: Andy, since we’re here, I’m going to back you up on this. You should stand up right now and say, ‘I, Andy, want all the Puff Daddy money. Because that’s not Sting’s song he’s using, that’s my guitar riff.’ Okay over to you Andy, Go for it…

Summers: [meekly] Ok, I want all of the Puff Daddy Money.

Sting: Okay Andy here’s all the money [pours some change on the table]. Unfortunately, I’ve spent the rest of it.

Copeland: So Sting’s making out like a bank robber here, while Andy and I have gone unrewarded and unloved for our efforts and contributions.

Sting: Life… is… f***ing… tough. Here I am in Tuscany…

Copeland: And don’t we know it! You’re in Tuscany in your palace with wine being poured down your throat and grapes being peeled for you. Sting can you buy me a castle in Italy too? With the proceeds from the longest running hit single in the history of radio? Just a little chateau somewhere?

Sting: We don’t have f***ing chateaus in Italy, They’re called palazzos. I’ll lend you a room.

In a 2003 Rolling Stone interview, Sting mentioned that the royalties from “I’ll Be Missing You” helped fund his children’s education. He recalled British singer Elton John telling him, “‘You gotta hear [I’ll Be Missing You], you’re gonna be a millionaire!'” Sting replied, “I am a millionaire!” to which Elton responded, “‘You’re gonna be a millionaire twice over!'”

In sum, the claim that Diddy pays Sting $2,000 a day for sampling “Every Breath You Take” remains unproven. The exact amount and terms have not been officially confirmed by either party. We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Snopes has previously reported on royalty payments, including the false claim that actress Dawn Wells was the only “Gilligan’s Island” cast member to receive residual payments for syndicated airings of the show, and the true claim that former U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed and profited from the God Bless the USA Bible company.

 

 

Sources

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