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Published on May 16th, 2012 | by Alan Cross


Walk Off the Earth Passes 100 Million YouTube Views

As I write this, Burlington, Ontario’s, Walk Off the Earth’s version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been viewed 107,497,452 times since it was first posed in January.  It’s the most popular cover ever posted on YouTube.  That doesn’t include the 2.5 million views of their performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

And there’s much, much more: 


  • The single has been sold in platinum amounts and has been downloaded 165,000 times in the US.
  • Walk Off the Earth has 600,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel and 490,000 friends on Facebook.
  • They’ll be on tour all summer–and that includes a stop at Lollapalooza in Chicago.
  • There’s a new website.
  • And finally, WOTE is going to see if lightning strikes twice.  Check out their version of Nirvana’s “Polly.”

Back to “Somebody” for a sec:  How much is 107,000,000 views worth?  Using a formula provided to me by people in the music licensing business–folks who know all about YouTube revenues (take it up with them if you disagree with my math)–it works like this:

YouTube’s payment rate is approximately $2.50 CPM. That means for every thousand views of a video, $2.50 is paid out.

YouTube takes 50% of all ad revenue from videos like this. If the artist owns the song outright, they get the other 50%.

In the case of the Walk Off the Earth video, they get 35% because they’re just performing the song. The remaining 15% will go to whichever publisher owns the rights to the song. Gotye’s piece of the action will be paid out of that.


  • Call it 107,000,000 views divided by, 1,000 = 107,000
  • 107,000 x $2.50 = $267,500
  • 50% of 267,500 = $133,500 ad revenues to YouTube
  • 15% of 267,500 = $40,005 to the publisher (Again, Gotye gets his share from here)
  • 35% of 267,000 = $93,625 to Walk Off the Earth
  • $94,625 divided amongst the five members of the band = $18,925 each.


Again, not bad for the 14 hours it took WOTE to make that original video.  Factor in all the other stuff–the iTunes sales, the gigs, the merch–and it’s been a good year for them.



The band’s manager sent me an email this afternoon to clarify the situation:


Mike here. How’s it going man? We’ve met a few times doing stuff with Saint Alvia, The Creepshow and Sarah Blackwood. I’m also management for Walk Off The Earth.

Just wanted to clarify a few things with you. Cover versions of songs on YouTube are NOT eligible for any AdSense revenue. The band has never received a penny from Google, YouTube or any other online advertiser for that video. For real. The folks who are giving you these formulas are misinformed. In fact, we pay out quite a bit of money to the originals songwriters and their publishers. It’s also a little awkward for us too when you post that math because suddenly everyone thinks we’re walking around with $100k+.

Please let me know if I can get you any more info or details on this.

Long time fan, first time complainer 😉


Mike Magee

[Wow.  That’s insane!.  Noted. -AC]

About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 Responses to Walk Off the Earth Passes 100 Million YouTube Views

  1. D.E. says:

    Congrats to them, I think it's great.
    I don't think they expected the song/video to go as viral as it did.

    But! Walk Off The Earth needs to STOP doing covers. It worked once. They need to try something different to show listeners that they're capable of so much more.
    Otherwise people will get bored fast.

  2. nscafe says:

    The band is good at covers, I think they should continue to do so as long as possible. Consumers don't always need new songs (Tainted Love, anyone? Anyone?) and if you can use the covers to generate enough income to cover the costs of recording an album of original work, I say do it. I'm sure it worked out for Marilyn Manson. 🙂

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