ROCKWALL, Texas -- It's been a long wait, but Rockwall musician Paul Harrington is finally getting paid backed royalties for his part in 2013 single "Timber" by rapper Pitbull.

Harrington was hired as a studio musician in Dallas to play a harmonica on a track three years ago.

"They needed me to sound like Lee Oskar -- he's the harmonica player from War," Harrington said.

Harrington was paid to cover the harmonica lick from Lee Oskar's 1978 song "San Francisco Bay."

Harrington says he received a $1,000 payment for his work. Three months later, his track became a pivotal part in the sound of the chart toping single "Timber" by Pitbull.

  • Listen to "San Francisco Bay" below or at this link at double speed to hear the harmonica riff used in "Timber"

"By then, I found out who Pitbull was," Harrington said. "When I first did the session, I didn't know who Pitbull was... Just a guy, a name."

Harrington's fellow band member Eric Zukoski quickly realized the reach "Timber" had in the music world.

Zukoski happens to be an entertainment lawyer, and knew Harrington's work was worth more than a studio fee.

"My suggestion was, 'Let's have Pitbull pick up a harmonica and see if he can play that part,'" Zukoski said. "I don't think he can."

That's when Zukoski came discovered the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act. Passed by Congress in 1996, the law allows studio musicians to receive royalties for songs played over the internet.

"My hope is that more veteran studio musicians like Paul, the ones that make the recording so special and so unique, will get more of what they're due" Zukoski said.

Paul Harrington
Paul Harrington

Turns out Zukoski was right. Just a few weeks ago, Harrington got a check -- in the high five figures.

Harrington admits the money is nice, but says playing on a hit single hasn't changed his life.

"I've been doing this a long time, and it is nice to get acknowledged -- that's really the deal," he said. "The history of the business is that most people don't get acknowledged."