Major labels share $210m in pre-1972 Sirius XM settlement

The major labels plus ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – have jointly been awarded $210m as part of a settlement with US satellite radio giant Sirius XM.

The plaintiffs – Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO – accused Sirius of playing pre-1972 recordings in the States without permission, and without paying royalties.

The $210m will be paid to the majors and ABKCO on or before July 15, 2015 and brings the case to a close.

In a statement, Sirius said: “The settlement resolves all past claims as to our use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables us, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017.

“As part of the settlement, we have the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.”

That license should ensure that the majors, at least, are compensated for the performances of pre-1972 copyrights on Sirius in the States within the five year period.

Said Sirius: “The royalty rate for each such license will be determined by negotiation or, if the parties are unable to agree, binding arbitration.”

There remains a question mark over pre-1972 copyrights owned by independent companies outside of ABKCO, and whether Sirius will agree to pay a fee for historical use of these tracks too.

Sirius said that, between them, Universal, Sony, Warner and ABKCO control “approximately 80% of the pre-1972 recordings we have historically used”.

The radio firm’s decision comes two years after sixties band The Turtles sued Sirius XM for broadcasting their pre-1972 tracks without permission.

Subsequently, the major labels then issued a similar lawsuit against Sirius XM in 2013, focusing on the firm’s failure to pay any royalties for pre-1972 tracks.

Michael Huppe, chief executive officer and president, SoundExchange said: “While it unfortunately required a lawsuit to make SiriusXM do the right thing, we are pleased that these legacy artists are finally getting the respect – and compensation – they deserve for the use of their music.

“SoundExchange consistently champions the right for all artists to be paid fairly across all platforms, regardless of when their music was recorded,”

Sirius XM offers three monthly subscription packages to consumers: XM Select (140+ channels for US $14.99 per month), XM All Access (150+ channels for $19.99) and XM Mostly Music (80+ channels for $9.99).

It attracted 27.3m paying subscribers in 2014.Music Business Worldwide

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