It might seem like ages ago but once upon a time American Idol winners and contestants regularly hit the Top 10 with their songs and become big stars and major moneymakers. Those days of almost assured hits out of Idol may be waning but there is still money on the table from those who hit the tune jackpot. Which is why the music company affiliated with Idol producers 19 Entertainment today took Sony Music to court for royalties that it alleges Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughty, Clay Aiken and other Idol alumni are owed – especially in the digital realm. In the breach of contract compliant (read it here) filed today in federal court in NYC, 19 Recordings are seeking compensatory damages of more than $7 million, pre and post-judgment interest of “at least $3 million” plus legal and organizational costs and whatever else the jury will give them. “It was very important to my clients to protect their artists, and we look forward to pursuing this,” attorney Richard Busch told me today after the suit was filed. The Nashville-based lawyer at King & Barlow is representing 19 Recordings in the matter.
“Sony has failed to comply with the terms of the Recording Agreements, and failed to fulfill its obligations under the Recording Agreements, by failing to properly account to and pay 19 royalties for licensing, sales, and other exploitations of the Masters,” states the 33-page complaint. “Sony’s failures include, but are not limited to, incorrectly calculating products sold, incorrectly paying 19 based on products sold, failing to allow 19 a full and fair opportunity to conduct an audit, attempting to recoup monies not owed to Sony, and failing to account to and pay 19 fifty percent (50%) of Sony’s Receipts from its leasing or licensing of the Masters to streaming services,” it adds. 19, which entered into an exclusive recording deal for Idol contestants in September 2002, also says it has tried repeatedly to resolve the issue with Sony Music since it started auditing the record company’s books back in 2008 but to no true avail. “Despite 19’s best efforts, Sony has refused to correct its underpayments to 19 and has forced 19 to file the instant suit in order to recoup the amounts Sony has underpaid 19 as well as recover any additional damages such underpayments have caused 19,” says the filing.