De La Soul’s Dispute With Tommy Boy Records Has Escalated

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The latest update in De La Soul’s battle against Tommy Boy Records over their catalog streaming royalties has taken a disappointing turn for the trio’s fans. Since the band took their label to task via social media — an increasingly common occurrence — the company told Variey that it was postponing the release of the catalog to streaming services to renegotiate the terms of its contract with De La.

In a statement, reps for Tommy Boy told Variety: “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 are hopeful for a quick resolution.”

Although the group’s catalog rights issues have been a point of contention between themselves and the label, mainly due to the extensive use of sampling throughout their first handful of albums, negotiations have stalled out repeatedly over the years, leading to De La calling out their label in their music and in interviews for years — even leaking the albums to file-sharing sites themselves a few years ago. Tommy Boy stressed that the negotiations did not hinge on the sample clearance issues, which De La fans even offered to crowdsource labor to handle for free.

Tommy Boy had timed the release of the back catalog to the 30th anniversary of the release of De La’s debut, 3 Feet High And Rising, but now wants to come back to the table with De La after being grilled by supporters online and getting threatened by Jay-Z’s Tidal, which refused to host the album so long as De La felt they weren’t receiving their fair shares. De La argues that the group has never earned much on album sales, instead living off touring and merchandise. Streaming could be a way to alleviate that, but not if they only receive 10% of the gross, as they have asserted on social media.

De La Soul is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.