Cheap Trick, Allman Brothers sue Sony BMG

Cheap Trick has joined The Allman Brothers Band in filing a class-action lawsuit against Sony BMG, alleging Sony BMG shortchanged artists on legal music download royalties.

The lawsuit, filed April 27 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., comes a little more than a month before the June 6 release of Cheap Trick’s 16th studio album, Rockford.

According to music news Web site, “At issue…is whether the label’s deal with online services for downloads is a license or a sale.”

The, report added: “Sony BMG labels consider that their deals with the services are for sales of records rather than licenses for the recordings. But the suit alleges that Sony BMG is violating contractual obligations to share 50 percent of the net licensing revenue from digital music transactions with artists.”

Many digital tracks are sold for 99 cents on the Internet. About 70 cents of the sale price goes to Sony. The lawsuit alleges the bands are getting about 4.5 cents per song, instead of the approximately 30 cents the bands claim is theirs.

If the lawsuit were declared class action, it could cover as many as 2,500 Sony artists who recorded between 1962 and 2002. Cheap Trick’s deal dates to 1976, while The Allman Brothers signed with Sony in 1989.

According to,, many artists have complained their royalties have been further cut by digital downloads. Cheap Trick Manager Dave Frey said in the, article: “This has been the elephant in the room for a while. If you don’t dispute the accounting now, that establishes how it’s going to be in the future.”

The Cheap Trick/Allman Brothers lawsuit could be a sign of things to come. Tom Waits’ Third Story Music filed a similar lawsuit against Warner Music Group in 2005.

From the May 3-9, 2006, issue

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