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19 Entertainment sues Sony over royalties

By | Published on Friday 21 February 2014

American Idol

The owner of the ‘American Idol’ franchise is going to battle with its original record industry partner Sony Music in a $10 million lawsuit. 19 Recordings alleges that the major has short-changed both it and those ‘Idol’ champions signed by the label by underpaying royalties and adding too many deductions.

The claims made by 19 are pretty standard royalty gripes really (and include the increasingly common squabble over what cut artists should get on streaming income), though them being made by a high profile entertainment firm rather than individual artists makes this a bigger case, as does the fact some of the recordings on which royalties have been allegedly underpaid were the major releases to stem from the ‘Idol’ phenomenon.

According to The Tennessean, 19 claims that it discovered what it calls “systemically incorrect calculations” on royalty payments during two separate audits, though adds that it is yet to fully audit the income of all the recordings in which it has a stake because Sony has allegedly not given them access to the files.

19 insists that it has tried to reach a deal with the major on these issues, but that the record company won’t negotiate. 19 Entertainment’s Worldwide Head Of Music Jason Morey says: “We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but Sony left us no choice, so this became necessary to protect our artists. Our complaint lays out the claims in great detail. Everything we have to say about the case is set forth in it”.

Originally founded by ‘Idol’ creator Simon Fuller, the 19 Entertainment business is now owned by the Core Media Group. And since 2010 the ‘Idol’ franchise’s record label partner has been Universal rather than Sony, which, of course, owns a slice of the rival ‘X-Factor’ brand via its stake in Simon Cowell’s Syco business.

The major is yet to respond to the 19 Entertainment lawsuit.