This month, Sting will become the latest songwriter to become an Ivors Academy Fellow, the highest honour the Academy bestows. Ahead of the ceremony, Music Week enjoys a one-on-one meeting with the legendary star to talk about everything from songwriting and Sam Fender to The Police, sampling and much more besides...
There was an outbreak of fake news last month when P Diddy joked on Twitter that he paid Sting $5,000 a day in royalties for sampling The Police’s 1983 classic, Every Breath You Take, for his 1997 smash I’ll Be Missing You. Laughing off the tweet – which was taken at face value by multiple media outlets – an amused Sting points out the giveaway was hiding in plain sight the whole time.
“Well that's not true,” he says in response to Diddy’s quip. “But anyway, he's paying Universal. He's not paying me anymore.”
Sting, lest we forget, sold off the family silver to Universal Music Publishing Group last year for a reported nine-figure sum. The blockbuster deal united his song catalogue, previously with Sony Music Publishing, with his recorded music catalogue at UMG – Sting’s label home for his entire career through A&M, Interscope and Cherrytree Records.
“I don't think I would have sold it to anyone but Universal because they put my records out, so they have a vested interest in curating it in a responsible way that keeps the integrity of the songs,” the iconic hitmaker tells Music Week. “It's been a good partnership and I've sort of rationalised it the way a painter would say, ‘I've sold my paintings to these people, but they're still my paintings.’”
It has been quite the journey for the man born Gordon Sumner in Wallsend in 1951. The singer, whose most recent album was 2021’s The Bridge, achieved global stardom with rock band The Police with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, and latterly as a solo artist. Before moving to London and hitting the big time, he played in North East jazz fusion outfit Last Exit.