Remember TIDAL? That thing you had to sign up for to hear The Life of Pablo and then never opened again? The one that rolled out with a star-studded press conference and big promises about a hi-fi streamer dedicated to equitable royalty payments and fairer artist compensation? Well, TIDAL is being sued for copyright infringement and unpaid royalties. This just days after rumours Jay Z might jump ship and sell the whole thing to Samsung.
Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele of the Queens, NY post-rock band The American Dollar have filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Jay's S. Carter Enterprises (you can read the document here). The complaint claims that TIDAL streamed 116 of the band's copyrighted songs without paying royalties or sending reports regarding the usage of the songs. The suit also claims that TIDAL has presented inaccurate usage data to repay artists and has undercut payments by as much as 35%.
A rep for TIDAL responded in an email to The Fader, claiming that this was the first they had heard about the dispute and that the whole claim is misdirected:
"TIDAL is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them. As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, TIDAL has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations. Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.
The main compositions in question were release by The American Dollar and their entire catalogue streamed fewer than 13,000 times on TIDAL and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service. This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal. This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform."
Needless to say: this does not bode well for the brand or the band.
It should be noted that Spotify is facing a similar suit, led by David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, but given TIDAL's artist-friendly M.O., they have more to lose from it (beyond money).
In other news, Jay Z is DJ Khaled's new manager. I'm sure he'll learn: integrity is a major 🔑.