Kieran Hebden is suing Domino records in relation to the royalties they are paying him for streaming of the three albums he made for them. Essentially the issue seems to be that the contract between them was signed before streaming was in anyone’s contemplation as a source of income. There is therefore a dispute between them as to which of the clauses of the contract can be interpreted so as to define what proportion of the money Domino receive should go to the artist.
Without commenting on the rights and wrongs of that (which are complex) the development today is that Hebden says that Domino have now removed all of the music from streaming sites without his consent. That is really sad but also a bit of a wake-up call if your music collection exists just on streaming services. Chunks of it could be gone tomorrow if a corporation decides to take it away.
It’s absurd that they’re even talking about the contract signed in 2001. Like, who gaf about something drawn up before the medium in question was even imagined?
I know that for some reason you can’t expect labels to act like human beings, but any company trying to resolve the problem in good faith would just look at the situation as it is rather than resorting to some arse covering language in a document signed 20 years ago.
Deft bully boy tactics taking the albums down too. Not only fucking their audience, but demonstrating that the income from those streams is clearly negligible to them in the first place. Fuck Domino.
It’s obviously a problem when a contract has to be interpreted so as to deal with something that no-one contemplated at all at the time it was agreed. Frankly it seems to me that the label’s arguments are at least as good as his, but you’d think that in a sane world some kind of compromise agreement could have been reached. It can’t be an uncommon situation in the music industry- I’d be interested to hear what has happened in other cases.
The bigger issue in my view is the label’s apparent unilateral removal of the music from the services. That reflects really badly on them. I suppose they would argue that they are mitigating their potential liability to him if he wins the case, but it leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. I’d be interested in what those people who rely entirely on streaming for their music make of it.
It’s covered in the article and it comes down to the language used in the contract. Domino rely on a clause referring to ‘records sold in new technology formats’, Hebden to a clause referring to money coming from ‘licencees outside the UK’. It’s not clear which of these best fits money received from streaming on, say, Spotify.
There’s a big difference- if Domino are right they give 13% of the money to Hebden, if he is right he gets 50%.
It seems to me strongly arguable that money from a stream is not money from ‘a record sold in a new technology format’ but that it is money from a licencee outside of the U.K.
There’s a bigger difference between streaming and previous revenue streams than there is, for instance between CDs and vinyl (which is just replacing one physical format with another).
I suppose they’re more arguing the principle of the matter and trying to protect future earnings, but it does seem a little weird to me that Domino would go down this route (which I feel like is damaging their image quite a bit for what’s surely not a large amount of actual cash).
Yeah, an MP3 album sale is surely a record sold in a new tech format while a streaming service is clearly a record licensed.
Moreover, by removing the records from the streaming service are they not actually proving exactly that? If those records were ‘sold’ then they couldn’t remove them. They can only remove them because they’re licensed.
It’s obviously an Intimidatory tactic. Leave it and you’ll get a little bit; cause a fuss and you get nothing. Presumably predicated on the idea that losing streaming income from a few back catalogue albums from one artist is fine but losing 30% of all streaming income isn’t.
Everything Ecstatic, which is listed as one of the three there, is still on my Spotify here in Australia, although “And Then Patterns” is greyed out. I guess it had a slightly different deal down here.
This is disputed. Hebden asked to buy the masters and Domino refused. He then started this legal action. Domino argue that the action is revenge for them not selling him the masters but you could spin it either way.