MusicPop Culture

Jay Z and Tidal Are Being Sued For Allegedly Not Paying Artist Royalties

Since its launch last spring, Jay Zs Tidal streaming service has faced a roller coaster ride of reception from consumers. People love it when the service allows you to stream events for free and get exclusive Beyonce content.

But when it comes to needing to be a subscriber to listen to new albums from Rihanna and Kanye West, a lot of music listeners are skeptical.

READ: T.I. Signs to Roc Nation and is Part Owner in TIDAL

Today, Tidal is reportedly in more hot water as its being sued for failure to pay artist royalties.

Back when Jay Z introduced Tidal, there was a promise to give artists higher royalty payouts with every artist, producer and writer featured on the streaming service getting a 75 percent royalty rate, which is higher than any other streaming service in the industry.

Tidal and Jay Z as well, are now being sued for $5 million in a class-action lawsuit from Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele of the band, The American Dollar.

The lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety on Sribd, alleges Tidal streamed 116 of the band’s copyrighted songs without paying back any royalty payments in the process. The law firm Garbarini Fitzgerald P.C. filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court Southern District of New York this weekend.

Richard Garbarini, the lawyer connected to the case, spoke with Complex and said the band did not receive any royalties for their work until November 2015 and the group asked months ago to get their music removed from Tidal. As of right now, the band’s music can still be streamed on Tidal.

“I find it fairly amazing an organization that claims it was going to pay the artists, systematically does not pay the artists,” said Garbarini.

It is also being alleged Tidal used fake numbers to make payments to artists and undercut the money owed to artists by as much as 35 percent. Apparently, the band was expecting monthly reports on royalty payments and usage of every song on the service, but it was never sent.

Releasing a statement to Complex, Tidal responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:

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. As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, TIDAL has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations. Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.

The main compositions in question were release by The American Dollar and their entire catalogue streamed fewer than 13,000 times on TIDAL and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service. This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal. This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.

In some much lighter Tidal-related news, there are talks Samsung wants to buy the streaming service and the exclusive release of Kanye’s album, The Life of Pablo, raised Tidal subscribers from 1 million to 2.5 million.



Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.