Kenny Rogers, the silver-haired country singer and actor, filed suit against EMI's Capitol Records. Rogers alleges that he was beat out of at least $400,000 and claims he's owed 50 percent of the digital-music royalties generated by his songs. He also says that EMI has dragged its feet on handing over an audit.
The suit goes into a fair amount of detail about Mr. Rogers’s account, saying that Capitol, an EMI division, also owes him at least $2,518.77 for record club sales and $10,880.18 in video costs, as well as unknown amounts from settlements in industry lawsuits against file-sharing services like Napster, Kazaa and Grokster. An EMI spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
EMI declined to comment.
Rogers is the latest in a growing list of artists who have filed similar suits against their labels and claim they are owed royalties from digital sales. The artists include Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers (Sony Music Entertainment), Rick James and Chuck D (Universal Music Group), and Sister Sledge (Warner Music Group).
These acts say the labels insist on paying them the same 10 percent to 20 percent rate they used to pay on CD sales. That rate factored in such losses as disc breakage and the costs to warehouse CDs. The artists argue that in a digital world, those charges don't apply.
Meanwhile, as news of Rogers' lawsuit was breaking, Sony Music was finally responding to accusations that executives tried to cash in on the death of singer Whitney Houston. Industry insiders told CNET that on Saturday, in the hours after Houston's body was discovered in a Beverly Hills hotel, a mid-level manager at Sony raised the prices on two of Houston's albums and those increases kicked in at the iTunes U.K. site on Sunday morning.
Sony Music said the price hike was a "mistake" and an "employee error." Even if you believe that, the goof was a public-relations disaster. Just at the point the public is prepared to rally around the music industry to mourn Houston's passing, her label is being accused of the worst kind of opportunism.
MUSIC INDUSTRY ..... GET YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER BEFORE YOU START TELLING OTHERS ABOUT WHAT'S RIGHT AND WRONG.