Jay Z And Tidal Are Being Sued For Reportedly Ripping Off Artists

02.29.16 8 months ago • 14 Comments
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This is weird. When Jay Z acquired Tidal for $56 million and gave out pieces of ownership to his celebrity friends, Jay made a big deal about the music-streaming service being different because it was by artists and for artists. No longer would musicians get ripped off on royalties, Jay said, tweeting last year, “Tidal pays 75 percent royalty rate to ALL artists, writers and producers.” All lies, claims a new lawsuit.

The frequently-sued mogul and Tidal are facing a $5 million class-action lawsuit from a musician and publishing company that alleges Jay illegally put their songs up on the celebrity-endorsed streaming service, and then paid $0.00 in royalties.

According to court documents, Yesh Music, LLC and The American Dollar band member John Emanuele claim Tidal streamed 116 of The American Dollar’s copyrighted tracks, all while knowing they were in the wrong. The lawsuit makes mention of Jay purchasing Tidal in 2015 and his claims that they would be paying artists their fair cut of royalties. Per the complaint:

Defendants created its now 25 million track library by dumping all of the music from independent artists into the Tidal Music Service without serving NOIs. Independent artists are predominantly impacted by Defendants’ systematic infringement.

Yesh Music and Emanuele also accuse Tidal of doing funny math to underpay some artists.

Defendants deliberately miscalculating the per-stream royalty rates by including millions of streams Defendants do not pay royalties in the calculation. This diluted the paid per-stream rate for royalty payments by up to 35 percent.

And just like Tidal doesn’t reveal stats to the public, they allegedly don’t reveal stats to artists, either. The lawsuit says Jay and Tidal “failed to serve monthly reports which detail the usage of every song and calculation of royalties.”

This all could’ve went away had Tidal responded to Yesh and Emanuele’s complaints when they reached out to Jay’s people in June 2015, but they were reportedly ignored. As a result, they’re suing for copyright infringement and are seeking in excess of $5 million.

This lawsuit is bad business, especially with rumors that Samsung, Google and Spotify are allegedly interested in taking Tidal off Jay Z’s hands. The New York Post reported that Tidal is having a cash-flow problem and are unable to pay their mounting bills.

Update: Tidal’s issued a statement indicating they’ve paid The American Dollar everything they’re owed via their the group’s distributor, Tunecore. To be more specific, they contend all money owed has been paid to Harry Fox Agency, their administrator of mechanical royalties, and any issues regarding those payments should be directed to Harry Fox Agency. “They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal,” the statement reads. “This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.”

“TIDAL is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them. As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, TIDAL has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations. Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.

“The main compositions in question were release by The American Dollar and their entire catalogue streamed fewer than 13,000 times on TIDAL and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service. This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal. This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.”

(Via The Jasmine Brand)

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