British electronic artist Four Tet is embroiled in a legal spat with Domino Recordings over digital royalties, one that is playing out for the rest of us to see.
Four Tet (real name Kieran Hebden) launched legal action in August again British independent label Domino over disputed streaming royalty rates.
That row has apparently taken a left-turn.
According to the artist, Domino, the label that launched the career of Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and others, has “removed the three albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services. This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can’t stream the music and I’m sad to have to say that it’s out of my control.”
In another tweet, he writes, “Earlier this week Domino’s legal representative said they would remove my music from all digital services in order to stop the case progressing. I did not agree to them taking this action and I’m truly shocked that it has come to this.”
I’m so upset to see that @Dominorecordco have removed the 3 albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services. This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can’t stream the music and I’m sad to have to say that it’s out of my control.— Four Tet (@FourTet) November 21, 2021
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Four Tet signed with Domino in 2005. Through that arrangement, Domino released the albums Rounds (2003), Everything Ecstatic (2005) and There Is Love In You (2010).
Hebden’s legal reps filed papers in August claiming that the label was in breach of contract, kick-starting a process that could have wider ramifications on streaming cuts, particularly relating to documents signed in the pre-digital era.
According to Music Week, Four Tet is claiming a royalty rate of 50%, while Domino is defending its decision to apply a rate of 18% to streams and downloads based on the contract relating to sales of records.
Four Tet is said to be pursing damages of up to £70,000 plus costs over the claim for historical streaming and download royalties, in addition to a legal judgement on the 50% rate.
“I believe there is an issue within the music industry on how the money is being shared out in the streaming era,” Four Tet tweets, “and I think its time for artists to be able to ask for a fairer deal.”
Streaming rates is a hot-button topic in the U.K. right now.
The Economics of Music Streaming carried several key recommendations, one of which is that government refer a case to the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), “to undertake a full market study into the economic impact of the majors’ dominance.”
Another recommendation calls on the British government to “expand creator rights” by introducing a “right to recapture” works after a term of 20 years.