Leading electronic artist Four Tet has settled in a legal battle against their former record label.
The musician, whose real name is Kieran Hebden, sued Domino Records last year over royalties he received when his music was downloaded or streamed. He argued that the 13.5% royalty rate offered was unfair and demanded a 50% split with the label.
In a settlement, Domino’s agreed to honour the 50% rate and reimbursed the musician for the historic low payment. This was a stark reversal for the indie label, which responded to the matter by basically removing as many as four Tate albums from streaming services.
“It has been a difficult and stressful experience to work my way through this court case, and I’m so glad we got this positive result,” wrote Hebden in a statement announcing the settlement.
“Hopefully, I’ve opened up a constructive dialogue and prompted others to push for a fairer deal on historical contracts, written at a time when the music industry operated entirely differently.”
The result can set a legal precedent for contract disputes in the music business, Where royalty rates have been heavily scrutinized since last year’s scrutiny of the streaming market by lawmakers on the Culture Select Committee.
However, the legal challenge of the Four Tet was ultimately settled out of court, so any future disputes would not be able to cite a legal decision.
Hebden’s case pertained to a recording contract signed with Domino’s in 2001, which resulted in four albums: Pause (2001), Rounds (2003), Everything Eclectic (2005) and There Is Love in You (2010).
The deal was signed before the advent of stream downloads – and their dispute hinged on whether those methods of accessing their music were defined as “sale” or “license” under the terms of their contract. can go.
The difference is far from academic as most artists receive 50% of the royalties for licenses, but a much lower figure, usually between 12% and 22% for sales.
Historically, the difference was due to the way the music was distributed: selling music in the era of CD, vinyl, and cassette brought huge costs in manufacturing and distribution, which meant that labels needed to cover their overheads. But when music is licensed for films, television or commercials, artists typically receive a larger salary, on the understanding that a third party is bearing the relevant costs.