“Weird Al” Yankovic this week filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, claiming that the company has improperly reported digital sales of his music in order to avoid higher payments.
Yankovic and his company Ear Booker say Sony deprived them of sales revenue for iTunes sales by counting those song sales as general sales rather than licenses. Under a general sales order Yankovic is not entitled to the same 50 percent cut he receives when a license for his song is sold.
Weird Al also wants Sony to cough up money from their deal with YouTube. Every single time a Weird Al Yankovic video is shown on YouTube Sony earns revenue. Google partnerships are believed to be worth $1000 to $6000 per every one million pageviews.
The funnyman music artist also wants part of the money Sony received from peer-to-peer file sharing settlements. For example money from the KaZaA settlement went to labels and not to musicians.
The decision to sue came about after Ear Booker performed an audit and realized that millions of dollars in payments were avoided by Sony via unfavorable terms to their artist.
This isn’t the first time an artist has sued their label over license-level royalties, Eminem won a case in federal Supreme Court and in March Sony settled a class action lawsuit for $8 million, that lawsuit was settled over similar terms.
In the meantime the Weird Al Yankovic case highlights the disconnect between artists, labels and digital music providers. While CDs use to sell for $15 to $20 many artists earn money by the track in 2012 while services such as Spotify and Rdio continue to create new revenue headaches for labels and their artists.