Sony Sued for Shortchanging Artists
Sony Music could be the target of a class action lawsuit from its artists, if a suit filed in a New York Federal Court is successful. Musicians The Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick say the company is not giving its artists a fair share, which under contract was half of the licensing revenue.
"Sony Music is presently engaged in a widespread attempt to underpay its recording artists; with the technological advancements in the music industry, it is essential that artists receive the royalty income to which they are entitled," Attorney Brian Caplan said in a statement.
Because both bands have deals that were signed before music was sold on the Internet -- The Allman Brothers' is from 1989 and Cheap Trick's from 1976 -- Sony has paid less than half. Instead, it is treating digital music as traditional record sales, which is on a different pay scale.
Through that deal Sony is able to pay less, as it is permitted to deduct fees for extra costs incurred to produce the music. This means that in the two bands' case, about four and a half cents per song is paid, rather than the 30 cents most other bands are receiving.
Sony on average is receiving about 70 cents of the average 99-cent per track charge for digital downloads, the suit alleges. The group is looking to make the case a class action suit, covering any band that signed a deal with Sony between 1962 and 2002. This would cover approximately 2,500 bands.
If successful, Sony may be forced to pay millions in royalties to artists. So far, Sony BMG has not commented on the suit.