Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by 1979lee, Jan 11, 2017 at 2:36 PM.
Richard Carpenter Sues for Karen Over Legendary Music Catalog »
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grammy winner Richard Carpenter sued Universal Music Group on Wednesday for millions in royalties he contends are owed from licensing "Carpenters" songs for online services such as Apple's iTunes.
Carpenter's lawsuit seeks more than $2 million in royalties and is also being filed on behalf of the estate of his sister, Karen Carpenter, who died in 1983.
The Carpenters won three Grammy Awards in 1970 and 1971, including for their song "Close to You."
The suit, which also names Universal subsidiary A&M Records, is one of a number of lawsuits filed after a 2010 appellate court ruled in a case involving Eminem's record label that music downloads from services such as iTunes should result in higher payments to artists. That ruling called for artists to receive substantially higher royalty payments for digital downloads of their music than they do when a physical recording is sold.
Carpenter says he has been unable to resolve the dispute without suing. "The Carpenters recordings are among the best sellers in the history of popular music and after 48 years continue to contribute a substantial amount to UMG/A&M's annual bottom line," he wrote in a statement. "It seems only fair that these companies account fairly to my sister's estate and to me."
An email message to Universal Music Group was not immediately returned.
Carpenter has hired attorney Larry Iser, who has represented numerous artists in disputes over licensing and use of their music.
""It is unfortunate that the Carpenters were forced to file this lawsuit primarily over an issue that has already been resolved by the courts — but which these record companies still refuse to acknowledge — that digital downloads occur pursuant to license and are not sales of records," Iser said.
Thanks for the heads-up on the News !
I have wondered when this was going to occur, as I--for one--
have felt he was not getting his fair share of the royalties.....!
I am glad Richard is taking a stand to get what is owed to him and Karen's estate. It's Karen's voice on the records so the $$ should go to whatever foundations are set up in her name. What about the surviving Carpenters band members --do they get a cut?
The story, as referenced by 1979lee, is from TMZ, noted tabloid --- for better or worse... But I give them props for their inclusion, at the end of their feature, of Carpenters' videos "Superstar" and "Rainy Days and Mondays!"
Yeah tmz is kinda odd sometimes!!! lol.
totally agree. I didnt see anything posted here on a&m corner about this, so i posted it.
Eerrey Reading the line "estate of karen carpenter"...
All I can say is yikes...
What a situation
The Carpenters Sue Universal Music Over Digital Royalties »
"The Carpenters contend that accountants they hired to examine the record label books found multiple errors
and that the defendants rejected the claim of royalties. He is seeking compensatory damages of at least $2 million."
"Among other things, according to the lawsuit, the record labels “improperly classified” revenue from digital downloads
of Carpenters’ music as sales of records as opposed to licensing revenue — short-changing them from a higher royalty rate.
The lawsuit also claims that the defendants undercounted digital downloads and that they applied an incorrect base price to the sales of CDs."
Ouch. doesnt sound like a nice thing happening. claiming the record label basically is screwing them etc etc. and here we are on the forum :S a lot of law talk is jibber jabber to me but i get the gist of this. i wonder if he will win or maybe they are getting whats fair.
on another note arent lawsuits pretty common in the music business ? seems that way. what a drag! i wouldnt want to be invovled in any of that..sucks!
Sounds like Richard's run into some Hollywood Accounting issues with Universal.
The Carpenters sue Universal over unpaid royalties, including sales-v-licence | Complete Music Update »
"But, perhaps more importantly, the litigation also again questions how labels classify downloads.
As much previously reported, this has been a bone of contention between artists and record companies ever since iTunes first gained momentum.
Artist record contracts traditionally made a distinction between sales income and licence income, with a much smaller royalty paid on the former than the latter."
"Major label contracts commonly paid up to a 15% royalty on sales, but might offer a 50/50 split on licensing revenue.
That was mainly because sales – which originally meant physical recordings sold in shops – accounted for the vast majority of income overall."
The UK press has picked this story up too:
Surviving Carpenters member sues over digital royalties | Daily Mail Online »
I find it quite eerie that some reports have headlines stating it's "the Carpenters" that are suing.
I'm pretty certain that the whole digital age of music really frustrates Richard. When I interviewed him in '14, I specifically took the conversation there at one point - in particular the digital dissemination of bootlegs, in which he basically said "I'd rather not think about it...what am I going to do?" But in the case of sales vs. licensing fee structures, this is something he CAN do to recoup losses, otherwise non-recoupable due to piracy.
Richard Carpenter Sues Music Companies for Unpaid Royalties | JDJournal »
"Richard is suing for breach of contract as well as breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing"
Richard Carpenter Files $2 Million Lawsuit Over Carpenters Songs »
Good for him. It's a matter of respect for the Carpenters catalog as much as money, in my view. The music has rarely gotten the credit deserved, and if it's going to be used for profit by an entity other than the artists, then Richard and Karen's estate should be compensated.
His is not an isolated situation, either--many popular artists literally get pennies for the use of their music on the streaming services, and have complained about it. In fact, there was talk a couple of years ago about how apple refused to pay any royalties when potential customers were using a free trial. Talk about major theft! The company was using that music royalty-free in order to build their profit margins by building a subscriber base with free music. Shameful. And unfortunately, not completely out of the ordinary either.
Artist contracts also stipulate the formats in which their music can be released. This is how, maybe 15 years ago, some artists would not get music reissued on SACD or DVD-Audio since their contract only covered existing formats (LP, CD, cassette), So, a CD or LP reissue could happen easily, while other formats would require a contract negotiation. Contracts can also be written to exclude the use of the artist's music on streaming services. And that can hurt as much as help an artist. (No streaming means fewer people hear the music to purchase it in the future.)
One has to question the streaming services, also. Many pay the cost of a CD, or less, to have access to tens of thousands of albums (or hundreds of thousands?) worth of music. How can that possibly work to an artist's advantage? It can't. If I stream two different albums a day for a month (say, 60 different albums, possibly 600 different songs), my cost per album played is sixteen cents per album or 1.6 cents per track, and I still have the option to listen to orders of magnitude more recordings if I choose. Granted, there is no cost for distribution and manufacturing, but all some listeners use these days is streaming. This can't be good for the composers or the performing artists. Try dividing up that $10 per month over every song or album in the streaming service's catalog and see how far it stretches. Not much, I'm afraid.
And the labels and streaming services wonder why they get sued...
Yep! Very well said...
Surviving Carpenter Says UMG Owes $2 Million in Royalties »
“However, rather than reward the Carpenters’ longstanding loyalty and honor their legacy,
defendants have withheld substantial sums owed to the Carpenters,” the complaint states."
The 16-page lawsuit includes 60 pages of attachments, including a 1976 recording contract and subsequent correspondence
between A&M and the Carpenter siblings."
"Carpenter says in his complaint that Universal’s refusal to pay him and his sister the 50 percent royalty is “particularly egregious”
because the defendant in the Eminem case, Aftermath Records, is a Universal label."
"The Carpenters twice brought in “specially trained accountants” to audit Universal’s books, and they found royalty underpayments
of more than $1.5 million for the years 2008 through 2014.
Yet despite 10 months of negotiations,
the company “rejected most of the Carpenters’ claims and offered to pay them only a minuscule fraction of the monies owed to them,”
according to the complaint."
“We did try to work it out with them,” Iser said in an interview Thursday."
"Overall, the complaint identifies nearly 20 sets of alleged underpayments, totaling about $2.3 million."
In light of the details in the articles and in Rudy's very fine summary, I think it's quite possible that Richard might wind up leaving a second major legacy in addition to his seminal creative contributions to popular music: this suit, if it proceeds all the way through the legal process, might prove to be a template/precedent for many other artists to pursue similar actions and redress underpayments which I would suspect are all-too-common in the digital age.
IIRC the Beach Boys had a somewhat similar issue with Capitol Records back in the 1960s over various accounting chicaneries that resulted in a lawsuit--it all came to a head in the midst of recording the (ultimately long-shelved) SMILE album...which turned out to be a casualty of "bad vibrations" stemming from both the resistance to the "avant-garde" nature of the music AND the fraught atmosphere that surrounded the lawsuit. The Beach Boys eventually won the case, but Capitol deleted their catalogue in the wake of the decision and it took 3-4 more years for a settlement to be reached. Let's hope that there is nothing like this in the future for Richard and for Carpenters' fans!
Truth is, in light of the drastic reconstruction of the music business over the last 20 years, the major labels have gotten even more greedy with this stuff. It's unfortunate, but I agree with you Don, this would definitely set a new precedence in the future years with respect to reimbursement for underpayment.
Not sure Uni Music will delete them, as they're still such a huge money maker. If it ever got that far however, I would certainly encourage Richard to buy out the full portion of their catalogue and distribute much in the same way Herb Alpert has done with his TJB catalogue. Not sure I actually see Richard doing this, given his comfort zone with the older-school mindset that he prefers to maintain, but you never know.
Stop ! ..oh yes, wait a minute mister postman, I still think $2 million is low -but I'm not an accountant so, carry on.
Maybe Richard's got a music-business-savvy nephew named Badazz who would take up the project....
Since this story "broke," and I have "shared" these News Articles on my Facebook page,
and there has erupted an enormous well-spring of support for Richard Carpenter on this front...
and, this from folks who are not remotely what you would call "Carpenters" fans....
thus, getting this case to court will be interesting, as the well-spring of support is 100% for
Richard and Karen getting their proper due....
as I emphatically stated some time in the past on this Forum,
has been doing Richard and Karen an injustice for many a year.
I am proud of Richard Carpenter for taking this stance.
He will prevail in a court of law.
Imagine if Richard bought out the rights to the Carpenters' entire catalogue, pulled the plug on Universal's rights and walked away? He could (if he wished) release unreleased tracks with the full knowledge it was above board and would then have full creative/editorial control over their ouevre, licensing, royalties etc. From all I've read and heard about ATGB, he was really disappointed with the commercial response versus what he gave up from the vaults, materially and emotionally. Add to that the bootlegs and he could have complete control, if he wanted.
It's a shame what's happening now didn't happen ten years ago, because I'm sure he would have been more up for it. Crucially, he'd also be able to appoint an executor to oversee their legacy. Who is going to do that?