Kanye West’s Sample For 2010 Song ‘Power’ Sparks Lawsuit Against Universal Music Group Over Unpaid Royalties
Music corporation Universal Music Group (UMG) has been struck with a lawsuit over Kanye West’s 2010 song “Power.” UMG allegedly has not been paying the appropriate amount of royalties to the song’s original owner.
For his 2010 song “Power,” Kanye West sampled King Crimson’s track “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Now the versatile rock band is alleging that UMG has not been paying them the correct amount of streaming royalties from the hit song. According to reports, the lawsuit states that Kanye West didn’t license the sample before releasing “Power” on YouTube in 2010. Since then, the music video has gained roughly 134 million views.
Reportedly, Declan Colgan Music Ltd (the owners of the mechanical rights and original version of “21st Century Schizoid Man”) UMG, Kanye, along with his production company, Rock the World, previously signed a deal that stated the sample would have a 5.33% royalty return for each copy of “Power” sold or “otherwise exploited,” in exchange for the artist to sample the track.
The deal also mentions that Declan Colgan Music Ltd (DCM) should receive the royalties on equal terms as Kanye did, alleging that UMG is only paying them a percentage of the money they receive as a whole. DCM officially filed the lawsuit in March in the UK supreme court.
DCM claims that UMG,
“has failed, and continues to fail, to comply with its royalty accounting obligations in respect of one mode of exploitation, namely the making available of the Power [r]ecording to consumers through so-called ‘streaming’ services.”
DCM isn’t stopping there. They’re also making adjustments to the licensing agreement and want the changes to be reflected moving forward. Instead of receiving payouts per stream from streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple, DCM wants its streaming royalties to be equivalent to physical CD sales. At the time of the deal, royalties for a streaming track were equivalent to a track on a physical CD. Now, royalties per stream are lower than CD sales. In addition to that, DCM is looking to collect interest including the royalties they’ve missed out on.
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