Four Tet‘s albums released under Domino have been returned to streaming platforms as news broke that he has inked a new publishing deal with Universal.
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The producer and DJ, whose real name is Kieran Hebden, signed with Domino in 2001 for the release of his second album ‘Pause’ before going on to release ‘Rounds’ (2003), ‘Everything Ecstatic’ (2005) and ‘There Is Love In You’ (2010) on the label.
But last November Hebden revealed that Domino had removed three of those albums (‘Pause’, ‘Rounds’ and ‘Everything Ecstatic’) in a bid to stop a legal case that he launched last August over historic downloads/streaming royalty rates.
In that ongoing lawsuit Hebden claims that the label is in breach of contract over its 18 per cent royalty rate, which Domino applied to record sales, and that a “reasonable” rate of 50 per cent should have been given to downloads/streams.
The contract between Hebden and Domino, which was signed in February 2001 long before the proliferation of streaming platforms and the first iPod, stated that record sales are subject to a royalty rate of 18 per cent.
Domino has argued that, because digital downloads (including streams) were considered a new technology format in the early ’00s, Hebden is only entitled to 75 per cent of 18 per cent of the dealer price (i.e. a 13.5 per cent royalty rate), although it had raised it to 18 per cent on a discretionary basis.
Now, it’s been confirmed that Four Tet’s ‘Pause’, ‘Rounds’ and ‘Everything Ecstatic’ and other music has been returned to streaming services after a judge ruled that Hebden’s legal team should be allowed to pursue a case for breach of contract over the removal of albums from DSPs.
This move is in addition to the existing breach of contract claim over historic royalty rates, and will now be folded into the same lawsuit.
Hebden’s lawyers argued at a hearing last December that removing his albums from streaming services was a breach of contract and that copyright to the masters should revert back to him. Those recording rights are currently with Domino for the life of copyright period of 70 years.
The ruling by Deputy Judge Treacy stated [via Music Week]: “I have concluded that this is not a situation in which it would be appropriate to refuse Mr Hebden’s request to amend his case to plead that the 2001 Agreement should be construed as including an express continuing obligation to use reasonable endeavours to exploit the Masters by all then-industry-standard means or that, in the alternative, such an obligation should be implied.”
In addition, Universal Music Group Publishing (UMGP) has today (February 7) announced that it has agreed a new global publishing deal with Hebden.
Pete Simmons, Director A&R UMPG said: “Four Tet has soundtracked my life from GCSE revision to dancefloors at university and now I get the pleasure to work with him. I’m honoured to represent a catalogue that means so much to not just me but the whole of UMPG. Looking forward to working with Kieran, Carol and the wider Solar team. Special thanks to Amy Samson for making the initial introduction.”
Four Tet’s aforementioned case is significant, particularly in the current context of investigations into UK streaming remuneration fairness for acts.
Findings released last summer saw MPs call for new legislation that “enshrines in law [artists’] rights to a fair share of the earnings” in order to address the inequality in payments received by artists.
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