This Week in Music Publishing: Feb 10, 2012

Jon Ostrow on Feb 10, 2012


Members of the musical group Sister Sledge along with a songwriter and Oscar-nominated actress have filed a class action suit against Warner Music Group alleging that Warner has cheated the group, and others, out of millions of dollars in royalties due to a an improper calculation of revenue of digital track sales.

This has been an ongoing war between artist and labels started by Eminem who's publisher claimed a similar allegation (and won in court), that the artist was due royalties for digital 'licenses' rather than digital 'sales', the former of which holds a much higher rate of payout to the artist.

Canadian rapper-singer Drake has been hit with a lawsuit surrounding his recent hit 'Marvin's Room', a song created as a reaction to a woman's late night drunken-call. The lawsuit has actually been brought on by Erika Lee who claims to be that woman (her voice also appears in the song).

Online video service Vevo has recently announced they've earned $150-million in revenue in 2011, but independent songwriters and publishers are now claiming that they have yet to see a single dollar in payouts from Vevo.

Throughout all of last week's famed Super Bowl commercials, the top four publishing companies - EMI Music, Universal Music, Warner/Chappell and Sony/ATV - each landed more than a half-dozen sync placements. The biggest winner was Universal who placed 10 songs across 9 ads. It's clear that strong sync placements are very much in demand for advertisers; a very positive and important trend for songwriters to note.

Centricity Music, a publishing company focused on Christian music, has hired Steve Rice previously of Integrity Music and EMI CMG Publishing, to head the company's publishing division.

Andrew Jenkins, formerly the Executive Vice President, International for Universal Music Publishing Group has been elected as chair of International Confederation Of Music Publishers (ICMP).

Universal Music Publishing Group also announced two-time Grammy-Award winning songwriter Nathan Chapman, known for his work with Taylor Swift, has signed on to a worldwide publishing agreement.

Songwriter and RCA-signed artist Chris Young has extended his five-year relationship with EMI Music Publishing, so that EMI can continue to represent Young's catalog of songs and future works.

Legendary songwriter Willie Nelson has revisited his own history by signing a new deal with Legacy Recordings, the catalog devision of Sony Entertainment to record new music as well as revisit his archives of past music.

After an ongoing investigation of the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), the collection society has been ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to abandon their current method of collecting royalty fees claiming improper order.

Canada's rights societies SOCAN, SODRAC and CMRRA have started integration talk that could potentially lead to just one society.

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