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BMG sues Modular and Universal over Tame Impala mechanicals

By | Published on Wednesday 3 June 2015

Tame Impala

BMG has begun legal action against Modular Recordings and Universal Music Australia over allegedly unpaid mechanical royalties on the catalogue of Tame Impala.

BMG represents the song rights of Tame Impala main man Kevin Parker, and claims that the two record companies have failed to pay the publishing royalties that are due from the Tame Impala records they have sold since early 2014.

It seems that Modular did have the right ‘mechanical licence’ for its Tame Impala releases, but that it has failed to pass on the publisher’s cut of record sales income in accordance with the payment terms in said licence. BMG says $450,000 is owing.

But Universal, which owns half of Modular, has distanced itself from the dispute, saying it is not liable for the unpaid mechanicals. This is based on the claim that it was another company wholly owned by Modular founder Steve Pavlovic which secured the mechanical licence for the Tame Impala recordings, and it is therefore that company that is liable for any unpaid royalties. The major adds that Pavlovic has confirmed this, and that they would have informed BMG of this fact had they been contacted before the legal papers were filed.

So that’s all fun. The litigation over unpaid publishing royalties follows remarks made by Parker in a recent AMA conversation on Reddit, in which the musician claimed to have received no income from Tame Impala’s record sales outside Australia, adding that it was two massive sync deals (possibly negotiated on the publishing side by BMG) that enabled him to buy a house and set up a studio.

Of course, the lack of income from the label side may be down to non-recoupment rather than dodgy dealings in the record company, but still, it doesn’t sound like there’s much love lost between Parker and Modular.