You didn’t think the Grammys were going to hog all of the music business’s bombshell news this week, did you?
In a potentially huge industry story, some of the biggest stars in Germany are collectively demanding a greater share of streaming money from the largest record companies in the world.
A group of 14 managers and lawyers repping stars in the market have written to the bosses of Universal, Sony, Warner and BMG questioning whether the current basis on which they are paid from streaming is “legally compliant”.
In addition, these artists are calling into question historical contracts with the majors, proclaiming an “urgent and fundamental need” to review the methodology from which they have been paid in the past.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (F.A.S.) newspaper, stars being represented by those undersigning the letter include Universal-signed Helene Fischer (pictured), who has sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and had the bestselling album in Germany in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Others artists whose managers/lawyers have signed the letter include heavy rock band Rammstein, plus Die Toten Hosen, Sarah Connor, Peter Maffay and Marius Müller-Westernhagen.
Further details from the letter are currently scant, but the artists’ demands may have shades of an infamous lawsuit launched by Eminem producers FBT against Aftermath Records / Universal.
In that case, FBT’s lawyers argued that digital downloads of Eminem’s music amounted to a licensing structure – which would incur the artist receiving a 50% split of revenues, rather than a more typical artist royalty of under 30%.
F.A.S describes an “unprecedented conflict” brewing between the artists and the record companies as a result of the letter, which was sent to Universal, Sony, Warner and BMG last month.
Representatives from the music companies have been invited by the artist managers/lawyers group to meet in Berlin in February to further discuss the matter.