A perfect combination of legal issues, bad contract terms, and other problems led Tommy Boy Records to halt De La Soul’s catalog streaming availability.
Several days ago, De La Soul published the news of an ugly ongoing feud with their label, Tommy Boy Records.
Amidst a potentially complex legal dispute over sample clearances from their debut album, the hip-hop trio’s label dropped De La Soul’s extensive catalog from all streaming music platforms last night. The date coincided with the 30th anniversary of the group’s debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising.
De La Soul, however, complained that while fans streamed their catalog, the trio received just 10% of all royalties from streaming and download purchases.
“The music WILL be released digitally. After 30 years of good music and paying their debt to hip-hop, De La Soul, unfortunately, will not taste the fruit of their labor. Your purchases will roughly go 90% Tommy Boy, 10% De La. Thank you. Sincerely yours, #thephantom2milliondollardebt.”
That 10%, the trio added, would only go to pay various legal fees. The group likely remains liable for uncleared samples on their debut album if Tommy Boy failed to obtain the proper clearances.
“Imagine trying to settle a #phantom2millionddollardebtand now possible lawsuits lurking??? There goes that 10%. Thank you @tommyboyrecords #respectourlegacy#dorightbytheculture #tommyboycott#4080 #delasoul #30years.”
Then, in a major show of support, Jay-Z personally reached out to De La Soul. His streaming music service, TIDAL, would refuse to stream the group’s catalog.
Stating TIDAL “supports the artist,” Trugoy (David Joliceur), explained,
“That’s a great thing to know that people recognize the nonsense and they recognize and empathize with the artists.
“At the end of the day, you feel like that’s why your peers are reaching out to you, in support of you.”
Now, Tommy Boy Records has made a surprising decision.
The label has decided to postpone the release of De La Soul’s catalog on streaming music services and download stores.
In a statement, Tommy Boy explained that it will first negotiate (or renegotiate) with the trio prior to the catalog’s streaming and download availability.
“Because Tommy Boy has not had the opportunity to sit down together with De La Soul and finalize our negotiations — something we’ve wanted to do for months — we have decided to postpone the digital release of their catalog scheduled for tomorrow.
“We know fans are eager to hear these amazing recordings and we’re hopeful for a quick resolution.”
Featured image by WeAreDeLaSoul (YouTube screengrab).