Earlier this week, the electronic musician Four Tet, revealed that his former label, Domino, had removed several of his albums from streaming services in response to an ongoing legal case regarding streaming royalties. Since then, we have been contacted by the The Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum who have issued a joint statement addressing the issue.
Kieran Hebden, the artists behind Four Tet, is fronting the damages claim against Domino, with the dispute due to have its day in High Court and potentially could set a precedence for further cases to follow.
Hebden’s lawyers have claimed that Domino are in breach of their contract with the band. According to Music Week, Four Tet have stated that they are legally due a 50% royalty rate for streaming, whereas Domino are defending their 18% payout.
Therefore, the band are requesting damages of £70,000, along with an amended streaming rate and costs for historical streaming rights.
The legal papers claim: “Four Tet will contend that a reasonable royalty rate in respect of revenues derived from exploitation by way of streaming and/or digital download under the implied term of the 2001 Agreement has at all material times been at least 50%; Four Tet’s position as to the precise rate is reserved pending evidence and/ or expert evidence on this issue.”
Further adding: “In respect of the exploitation of the Masters and any videos embodying the Masters and received by us from our licensees outside the UK we shall credit your audio and audio-visual royalty accounts respectively with 50% of all royalties and fees arising from such exploitation.”
When the case took yet another turn earlier this week after Hebden announced the removal of his albums, The Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum combined to issue a statement pertaining to how the legal proceedings might influence the future of music streaming.
The statement was issue to the DCMS Committee, Kevin Brennan’s upcoming Private Members Bill addressing the need for reform at a government level when it comes to the legal protection that artists have in the streaming world.
The statement reads: “The removal of Four Tet’s first three albums Pause, Rounds, and Everything Ecstatic from streaming services by Domino raises all kinds of moral and legal questions about rights assignment and the power of labels over an artist’s work. Regardless of the legal dispute between the two parties this is a misguided and self-defeating move, and we urge them to reconsider.”
Adding: “Ahead of the second reading of a Private Members Bill from Kevin Brennan MP and following the recent report by the DCMS Select Committee on the economics of streaming, there is also a timely context to this case.”
Before concluding: “The FAC and MMF continue to press the Government to instigate changes to the law to end “life of copyright” deals and return rights ownership to artists and songwriters after a set period of time. Alongside other industry-led reforms, this would be an effective way to ensure legacy contracts are made fit for purpose in the streaming era, and that the fair treatment of artists, songwriters and musicians can be guaranteed in the future.”
While the Four Tet case still remains very much unresolved, at the very least it has brought about progressive talks regarding the future of music streaming with more expected in the coming weeks.