Jay-Z Has 99 Problems, Troubled Tidal Is Definitely One of Them
Mar. 3, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Tidal, the online music streaming service owned by Jay-Z, has been hit with a $5 million lawsuit brought by two artists for alleged non-payment of royalties and copyright infringement. Not exactly good PR for a company which has sought to differentiate itself from competition by marketing itself as a champion of artists and their music rights. As Jay-Z himself pledged back April 2015 –
John Emanuele of the band American Dollar and Yesh Music LLC, who have also filed suits against Slacker Radio and Google Play , claim that Tidal failed to serve them with a Notice of Intention (NOI) which is required in order to obtain a compulsory music license. In addition, the suit alleges that Tidal licensed 118 songs without permission and deliberately skewed the number of streams of the band’s songs by tens of millions. The lawsuit is framed as a proposed class action as the claimants believe other artists have been cheated too because Tidal has systematically undercut royalty calculations for artists.
A spokesperson for Tidal asserted that the company is up to date on royalty payments and that the claimants should be targeting the third-party company Harry Fox Agency employed by Tidal to serve NOIs and handle royalties. Emanuele quickly fired back stating that Tidal is merely passing the buck as it is common knowledge that Harry Fox Agency does not issue NOIs or calculate royalties unless expressly directed by their clients.
In the wake of being slammed with a lawsuit and the subsequent bad press, Tidal fired its COO Nils Juell and CFO Chris Hart. The company is also on its third CEO in under a year. The dismissals are allegedly part of a plan to move the company’s operations and accounting teams from Oslo, Norway to New York City.
The lawsuit couldn’t come at a worse time, as Samsung is reportedly in talks to purchase Tidal for $56 million. Only time will tell whether this ship can be turned around or whether this is the beginning of the end for the self-proclaimed ‘artist-friendly’ music company.