Enrique Iglesias filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against Universal Music Group, contending that his former label deprived him of his share of streaming royalties.
Iglesias claims he is owed 50% of streaming revenues, but that Universal awarded him a small fraction of that amount. The discrepancy amounts to “millions of dollars,” according to the suit.
Iglesias signed with the label in 1999 and renewed his contract in 2010. According to the suit, both contracts provided that digital downloads would be paid at the same rate as album sales, which is substantially lower than half. But the contracts did not specifically cite a rate for music streams, the suit states. As a result, Iglesias contends that he is entitled to half of that revenue under a separate provision.
“Despite this record-breaking success, Universal has wrongly insisted that artists like Enrique be paid for streams in the same manner as they are paid for physical records, despite the fact that none of the attendant costs (production, distribution, inventory, losses) actually exist in the digital world,” Iglesias’ attorney, James Sammataro, said in a statement. “This is not what Enrique’s contract, or the contracts of many other artists, call for. Artists, producers, and songwriters should benefit from the reduced costs of streaming, not have their musical works spin unwarranted profits.”
Iglesias left Universal in 2015 and signed with Sony. According to the suit, Universal now claims that Iglesias’ account shows an unrecouped balance.
“Universal’s claim is unsupportable and unfathomable, given Iglesias’ indisputable commercial triumphs,” the suit states.
The suit alleges that Universal made unjustifiable deductions and added excess charges, but does not enumerate those charges. Iglesias requested an accounting in March of 2017, but so far Universal has not complied, according to the suit.
Universal has yet to respond to the suit.