Whoa Nelly

NellyThe double-edged sword of the internet’s immeasurable power has once again revealed itself… this time both causing and highlighting financial distress of one of hip hop’s biggest stars.  After reports surfaced recently of the considerable IRS debt looming over Nelly, the #savenelly campaign was born. At once a noble testament to the altruistic reach of social media, #savenelly invited fans to stream Nelly songs, the smash “Hot in Herre” in particular.

Nelly has amassed both federal and state tax debt: $149,511 owed to Missouri, and $2,412,283 in a federal tax lien imposed this fall. Sources in the Nelly camp assure the media that he is working closely with the feds to resolve the issue… but the daunting amount has fans rallying at his side, offering a solution. The well-intentioned plan, is a sort of stuffing the ballot box/crowd funding amalgam: Spin reported their determination that for each Spotify stream, Nelly would rake in between $.006 and $.0084. Spin staffers did some quick math and concluded that “Hot in Herre” would need to be streamed between 287,176,547 and… (ready?) 402,880,500 times to amount to the cash needed for Nelly to shake the tax albatross.

Though daunting, the cause has continued to draw support from grateful fans tweeting their solidarity and support. Some Twitter gems:

Nelly gave us hits for the middle school dances. We owe him #SaveNelly@theyhatedr

Because college was so lit. #SaveNelly@DaHoneyDipTX

Nelly helped you awkwardly grind on your first girlfriend during the homecoming dance. You owe him. #SaveNelly@thesaddestangel


Indeed, streams for Nelly (born Cornell Iral Haynes), tripled during the start of the campaign – no small potatoes.  Media coverage mirrors the fan hysteria, with the 41-year-old superstar receiving making headlines in Time, the Washington Post, and USA Today… to say nothing of Fortune magazine’s piece.  Quick to chime in from the bwamp bwamp camp, Fortune noted that despite Spin’s well-intentioned math, the numbers do not reflect the true revenue likely to be achieved by the streaming campaign.  Fortune’s Dan Reilly notes “an artist would have to be completely independent – no label, manager, any other contracted representative, co-writers, producers, sampled artists, etc – to collect that streaming payout without giving away a good portion of it. Even if Nelly got the best deal in music history, he’s still giving up a portion of those fractions of a cent.”  And how ya like these Apples?  Andrew Farrior, Marketing Director for Street Execs, which manages rappers 2 Chainz and Young Dolph, told Fortune “The general rule of thumb is for every million streams you get, you make about $4,000 or $5,000 of actual cash, and that’s divvied up.”

Yipes. Get out the vote, kids!

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