Journey's Producer Sues Sony Over Unpaid Royalties For 21 Classic Songs

from the not-just-artists-getting-screwed dept

For years, we have highlighted the great lengths that major labels go through to avoid paying out royalties to artists. These actions culminated in a number of artists suing the label in an attempt to actually be paid the royalties owed to them on music sales. Sony hasn't been immune to these lawsuits either. In fact, it has just recently settled a lawsuit over iTunes sales. With all these attempts to avoid paying artists and then being forced to by the courts, is it really a surprise to learn that artists aren't the only ones getting screwed by these labels?

While most of our stories revolve around the artists who get screwed, there are other people getting screwed in the process as well. One of these people is a music producer by the name of Roy Thomas Baker, a producer for the likes of Queen, Guns N' Roses and Journey. Roy is now suing Sony for unpaid royalties on 21 Journey songs.

Sony was supposed to pay Baker royalties under a producer agreement, according to his 18-page federal lawsuit. But Baker says an audit of Sony's books revealed that the music company had been underreporting his royalties by more than $475,000 for the period audited.

He says Sony is refusing to release other documents that might uncover additional underreporting since the audit, and he estimates that his royalties may have been underreported by more than $500,000 before the audit using Sony's incorrect rates.

If these allegations against Sony are true, that is quite a lot of money that Sony was not paying out. It really isn't surprising at all though. We have seen such payment dodging from all throughout the legacy entertainment industries. Publishers, labels, movie studios and game publishers have all used such tricks to avoid paying out money to the people who actually make possible the income they have. All the while claiming that they support the people in the trenches.

This lawsuit also highlights something we pointed out about that settlement Sony made earlier in the year, that Sony got off way too easily.

Baker says he opted out of a class action over Sony's alleged failure to correctly pay artists for downloaded music because the proposed settlement in March “is wholly insufficient to make plaintiff whole.”

Because no matter how you worked out the split of the $5 million that Sony set aside for settlement, Roy would not have made anything close to the $475,000 he says he is owed. If other artists and producers feel the same way, Sony's legal team won't get any rest any time soon.

All in all, these lawsuits are just another indication that the entertainment industry is changing. As more and more artists are able to bypass legacy gatekeepers and only use those enablers that truly add value to their work and make more money in the process, those artists stuck with legacy gatekeepers will wonder why they aren't making as much money as they feel they should. They will eventually leave those gatekeepers, but in the meantime, we will see a whole lot more actions like this as those artists and other enablers seek to get paid.

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Comments on “Journey's Producer Sues Sony Over Unpaid Royalties For 21 Classic Songs”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

But its “piracy” that is stealing the money, not our creative accounting techniques.

When you can blame the low figures on “piracy” and keep your books from being properly audited, there is a serious problem. The fact there was a class action lawsuit really should wake the artists up… the biggest thieves are the labels.

And just for giggles, has the RIAA released any statement about this label screwing over the artist? They are the first ones to jump on the bandwagon to blame pirates “stealing” imaginary dollars from the poor artists, where the hell are they when a label is doing it?

Robert (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh yeah? And how much money does the Pirate Bay pay artists again? How much of it’s 10’s of millions of dollars each month that it earns from ad revenues does it give to the artists?

The labels gave this man some money, not enough, but not enough is greater than zero!

/1st attempt to act like a troll – How’d I do?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh and it never hurts to blame Google as well.

I think Chris Dodd has a picture of Google’s logo with the writings “Anti-Christ” attached to it where he practices with darts. So actually blaming Google should award any trolling attempt several troll points after all it’s a direct attack against the devil. /lol

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

That’s not just A Few Coins. Sony, who is nothing but a Hustler, screwed him over Just The Same Way they do other artists, but After All These Years, Karma caught up with them. Now Sony is crying like a Little Girl, and With a Tear falling down their cheek, they cry it is a World Gone Wild they can’t get away with this. Now other artists will be coming to Nickel and Dime them to death.

Don’t Stop Believing that they’ll get what is coming to them, and they’ll soon be giving out checks Anyway You Want It.

ebilrawkscientist (profile) says:

Labels Stink.

Its past time to cut the middle men “labels” out and establish your own spearheaded by the Artists themselves; preferably a well oiled coalition cell of established Artisans, be it music, movies or books or what have you and spread the love.

Let the big incumbent labels stew in their own juices when they realize Artists can be smart and inovative enough to establish their own public relations machina, virtual storefronts that aren’t dictated to by the RIAA or MPAA. That is unless you want to contribute to the problem of imaginary theivery from both ends where profit goes directly into the court systems.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At least we’ve been spared the sight of their naked hypocrisy this time. In case you’re not aware, this is where the ACs usually come in and start blathering on about how the artist signed a contract, so any way they get screwed under that contract is fair game. That’s their justification in cases like this – and they don’t seem to comprehend why this is wrong nor why this practice is part of their industry’s current problems.

But, they’ve probably been too obsessed with trashing Google in other articles to bother with that particular line of attack here. They’ll be back in the next such article.

anon says:


Ok this is now where the artist need to get together and ask the MPAA why they are not investigating the labels, is it not the artists they are supposed to be protecting.

This could be used to blow them out of the water legally as if they are not prepared to fight the labels for the artists then they are only there to protect the billionaires that are stealing from them.

I hope that more is said about this , I hope it is talked about and written about and discussed in the media and the MPAA is forced to admit they are not interested in the artists, only the rich bastards that are blatantly stealing from them.

If they do not do something to find all and I do mean all of the money stolen from artists they have no defence and should have no right to say they are fighting for the artists, they are fighting for big business, and there right to steal from the artists.

I am not very good at writing articles but I hope Mike that you read my attempt to put words together and decide to investigate the MPAA in this manor or at least get people discussing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

He seems to have taken a long time to wake up to this. Last time I checked, that amount of money gets my attention faster than 20 years after the fact.

I am starting to wonder if it’s a case of past music people thinking they can lead the courts by showing them about “hollywood accounting”, without really truly justifying the amounts.

Anonymous Coward says:

He seems to have taken a long time to wake up to this. Last time I checked, that amount of money gets my attention faster than 20 years after the fact.

I am starting to wonder if it’s a case of past music people thinking they can lead the courts by showing them about “hollywood accounting”, without really truly justifying the amounts.

Anonymous Coward says:

such a shame that the politicians that keep coming down against ‘file sharing’ cant see that all they are doing is keeping the labels and the execs going, not the artists. if the truth were known, 99% of artists are not on the labels side. the reality is it is the labels that keep getting supported that are the thieves, not the file sharing public or file sharing sites. it is just that those labels have deeper pockets and are better at bullshit and lies than ordinary people. to now say they want the US government to help them shut down TPB and others is bollocks. they have had that help for years. it is just that the truth has come out because of the fuck up over the Mega case and they are now trying to say that they want help, rather than that they have had help all along. the trouble with a lie is, the one that follows always has to be bigger than the preceding one. eventually, the lie is so great that absolutely no one can be convinced it is the truth. then the consequences become severe!

Anonymous Coward says:

and thick politicians still think that they have to keep rewriting the law to support these lying fuckers rather than looking at what is actually going on. it’s the labels themselves that are robbing artists, not those that share music etc with friends and family. customers have made it clear that they are perfectly prepared to pay sensible money if they can get what they ask for. yet again, it’s those same labels that refuse to cater for customers. they say there are a multitude of legitimate sources available, but they forget to mention that no sources has all the options and that people would have to join multiple sites and ridiculous expense to get all the options. listen to customers. give what is asked for in one place instead of what you think is wanted.

anon says:

Money money money kaching...

If all the artists got together and worked out a plan of attack where they individually demanded all money owing to them it could actually take down the likes of Sony with demands for money they have already spent on the houses and cars ans whores and drugs.
The problem the labels have is that they cannot just claim bankruptcy as it is theft and if anything all assets of those involved can be seized to pay the money due to the artists. Now this would be a nice court case to follow, if it happened.

Motown Hater says:

Heartless Bastards

I myself was signed to Motown Records in 1990 and they dropped the group i was in called Seville the former B.A.D band we were dropped from the label with no phone call or letter while they owed us six figures. We we’re a number one independent group in many states when they did this to us, I hope that they burn in hell with their curupt money. This was so painful to us that i don’t wish this treatment on even my worse enemies.

Chipper41 (profile) says:


Well here is another producer of Sony artists who has consistently been underpaid for many years . Sony have never denied mistakes but just have delayed and obfuscated .

In this case the proofs are that Sony have paid out on mechanicals to the publishing Company but have not paid out corresponding producer royalties …..the producer is the writer!!!!!!!

Both incorrect royalty rates and underpayment of proven sales apply in this cases,,,,,

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