Ten million people watched Sunday’s final episode (29/09) of Breaking Bad, with a touching farewell scene set to Badfinger’s 1971 ballad Baby Blue. By Monday morning, the song had been downloaded more than 5,000 times, according to Neilsen Soundscan, boosting its sales by nearly 3,000 percent. Nielsen (NLSN) closes its sales week on Sunday nights, giving Badfinger only a few hours to boost its sales after the finale, so the song will probably jump even higher next week, when number-crunchers take the full measure of what’s already come to be known as Breaking Badfinger. Baby Blue is now a top-selling song on iTunes (AAPL) and is poised to hit the Billboard charts next week.
It’s a bittersweet moment for Badfinger, a Welsh band that suffered from financial mismanagement and saw its two main songwriters kill themselves over issues linked to royalty payments. All of which leads to the question: Where is the money going today?
Badfinger’s career started out as auspiciously as possible. The band was the first act signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label and had their first hit song, Come and Get It, handed down by Paul McCartney himself. Badfinger went on to have a number of hits, including classic-rock staples Day After Day and No Matter What. In 1970, in a fateful misstep, the band hired a New York businessman named Stan Polley to manage their growing pile of money. Polley, later revealed to be loosely associated with the mob, put Badfinger’s money into a holding account from which he would pay each band member a salary and signed the group to a $3 million deal with Warner Brothers (TWX) for six albums over three years.