And we thought Rick James was bringing the heat. On Wednesday, Chuck D filed a massive class action lawsuit against Universal Music Group, one loosely valued in the 'hundreds of millions'. The suit, filed in the US District Court for Northern California, alleges that UMG is paying a fraction of what is owed on various digital formats like downloads and ringtones, just like the James lawsuit. "The exact amount... will be determined at trial, but which likely equates to hundreds of millions of dollars if not more," the aggressive filing estimates.
Chuck D attorneys Hausfeld LLP are putting out the call to "all Universal Music Group artists," starting the wheels on a potentially monstrous class action. And this could be the beginning of an anticipated flood of big-artist lawsuits, all based on the assertion that labels should be categorizing digital formats as licenses instead of sales. The former nets a far higher return - as much as 50 percent - while the latter delivers a more modest percentage.
Obviously, D - whose 'government' is Carlton Douglas Ridenhour - wants his famous releases re-categorized as licenses, with appropriate back-payments attached. "As digital downloads have emerged as the primary method by which many consumers acquire music, UMG has systematically failed to pay appropriate royalties to musicians for these downloads," argued James Pizzirusso, a partner at Hausfeld involved in the case.
A chunk of D's recordings got roped into the UMG umbrella with the acquisition of Def Jam Recordings in the 90s. Universal has promised to "vigorously defend" against the "flawed" case.
The full filing is here.
Visitor Thursday, November 03, 2011
And licenses they are, indeed. Just read the TOS of Amazon, for example.
@onapoleon Thursday, November 03, 2011
good luck with that
@kylembagley Thursday, November 03, 2011
kyle m. bagley
They should sample this, my pit bull
MisterSoftee Thursday, November 03, 2011
A conversation in the 1980s:
Label Exec: "Chuck, we like your rap music and this new style you have. Why don't we sign you and make you a household name + millionaire! Oh and pay for your tours while putting our marketing and distro machine on this"
Chuck D: "Great, where do I sign?"
Label Exec: "Right here."
Chuck D: [willingly signing contract.]
Jean De Jacquette Friday, November 04, 2011
Chuck signed to Def Jam when it was still an indie, and has seen his contract taken over on at least three different occasions since then.
It's never hard to find someone who doesn't have a fucking clue what they're talking about on threads like this.
MisterSoftee Friday, November 04, 2011
Hey, JdJ got news for ya! If the contract changes materially when passed to the major, they have to go through a new round of approvals. Otherwise it's called a material breach.
And in case you didn't know: indies screw artists bad if not worse than the major! Especially rap labels. SO he probably has a better deal now.
Jean De Jacquette Friday, November 04, 2011
I'm aware of all these things, thanks. But it's a nice change to be proved wrong about something else, so I apologise for the dis. Serves me right for jumping to conclusions.
I still think your original remark was dickish, though. If you know anything about the music business (and it seems you do), you'd know it's never as simple as what you sign. The industry will try to move the goalposts every chance it gets. Look at all those acts that had to try and renegotiate their contracts in the 80s when they realised they were only being paid royalties on "gramophone records and cassettes" and not CDs. This is just the modern version of that, and not before time.
@FmFBarcelona Thursday, November 03, 2011
This Can of worms is officially open...
Login not working! Thursday, November 03, 2011
To be honest,
it's about time this is being addressed. I've worked for a few Digital Music
Providers (247 Entertainment and Omnifone) and for me it's clear that it's not
the Spotifys and Rhapsodys of this world that are to blame for the artists not
getting paid but the labels.
They ask for huge upfront fees and minimum revenues, which the DMPs all nicely pay up otherwise they don't get the content.
It's what happens with that cash that's the issue. Nobody has a clear view. I guess it’s just unsuccessfully filling the big gap the labels have created for themselves over the last decade.
I got out of
the business not long ago because it's getting untenable for the smaller DMPs
to survive, because ultimately, the costs of licensing but also of course of
backend, software, employees and admin are not worth the meagre returns. That's
why all these companies are firmly in the red. They live on the love of music and tech only, but one needs to be extra motivated to keep it up.
Fully supporting Chuck and co.
paul Thursday, November 03, 2011
There is a bug we're looking at on logins. Can you give me more details for our QA? Email at paulr@ thanks
truth be told Thursday, November 03, 2011
The labels sign a contract with a third party, that contract is either a license or a distribution agreement. Apple was very smart in NOT creating a licensing scheme for Itunes. Instead, Apple created a Digital Wholesale Distribution Agreement, whereby Apple BOUGHT music wholesale, and SOLD music retail.
Itunes was fundamentally different from every other digital outlet at the time because it was the first TRANSACTIONAL model based on the same mechanics as PHYSICAL RETAIL, which, IS NOT A LICENSE.
Other old school sites such as EMUSIC were in fact license deals, and as such the artists should be paid accordingly.But to assert that all Digital Distribution is a license, when it is not, is just silly.
No Thursday, November 03, 2011
You are misinformed. It is a license. That's why Apple also pays mechanical royalties. Do some research.
Visitor Friday, November 04, 2011
with all do respect, I have a contract with apple directly and it's not a license. do you have a contract with apple?
the mechanicals are only paid in europe as per local law because in europe the mechanicals are paid at the pressing plant. in the USA the labels are responsible for paying the mechanicals from their revenue which is the same on physical CDs as it is on itunes sales...
so I would say to you, please do some research...
@zakday Thursday, November 03, 2011
Go Chuck D
@mp3michael Thursday, November 03, 2011
50% of iTunes sales instead of 5%. That's 10X MORE
@stevemachin Thursday, November 03, 2011
Watch this space, Go Chuck