Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal was conceived to ensure that artists derive fair pay for their work, however it is being sued for failing to pay an artist fairly.
Sean Carter launched the service last year claiming that 75 per cent of all streaming royalties from the subscription-only service would go to musicians who leverage their content on the site.
John Emanuele and Yesh Music Publishing is suing the company for $5m, claiming that over 188 tracks were on the service without permission. He also alleges a number of streaming payment misdemeanors.
The company is owned by Jay Z and 15 other artist stakeholders including Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna.
Emanuele's document, which can be read here, is broad in its accusations of wrong-doing, it reads: “Defendants failed to calculate the correct revenue pool, stream rate, and owe Plaintiffs and the Putative Class all lost royalties. Defendants’ failure was willful.”
The suit chastises the company for accepting equity investments from labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group: “By taking equity stakes in the Tidal Music Service, the major record labels made it very clear that this was not a free market. This has further illegally devalued the mechanical rates paid by Defendants.”
It also condemned the transparency of the company’s payments: “Defendants failed to serve monthly reports which detail the usage of every song and calculation of royalties.”
Tidal issued a statement to Vulture to address the claimant’s accusations: “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.
“This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency [the company that handles Tidal’s mechanical streaming payments] if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed.”
Despite a botched launch, Tidal has stayed true to its goal of remaining relevant through exclusive content unavailable on other platforms.
Just last week the site hosted the launch of Kanye West’s new album, The Life of Pablo. The stunt helped boost users, seeing UK users on Android increasing by 155 per cent that week.