Tidal Hit with Lawsuit Over Unpaid Royalties

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Tidal, the streaming music service that promised more money for artists, is being sued for US$5 million over claims it hasn't payed out royalties. Yesh Music Publishing and John Emanuele from American Dollar hit Tidal with the lawsuit, and is pushing for class action status.

Tidal sued for failure to pay artist royaltiesTidal sued for failure to pay artist royalties

According to the lawsuit, Tidal streamed 118 American Dollar songs without proper licensing, and then intentionally miscalculated the number of streams played with the intent to pay out less money. That's a pretty serious accusation, and one that Tidal is refuting.

Tidal representatives said in a statement to CNBC,

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. The entire catalogue in question streamed fewer than 13,000 times on TIDAL and its predecessor over the past year.

The streaming music market hasn't been easy for Tidal ever since its Twin Peaks-esque launch event. It hasn't been able to gain traction on the scale of Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora, and lost its CEO in the midst of turmoil only three months after its debut.

Most recently, Tidal founding member Kanye West announced he would offer his new album, "The Life of Pablo," would be available only through the streaming service. His decision was likely a move to help boost Tidal's subscriber base, but so far doesn't seem to have succeeded.

Tidal has removed all of American Dollar's songs from its service, which seems like a prudent move in the face of this lawsuit.

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Tidal feels more like an HBO drama than a streaming music service. Regardless of whether or not American Dollar's accusations are legit, this is yet another distraction from their efforts to hold their own against Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music.

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