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Doobie Brother settles in digital royalty squabble

By | Published on Monday 15 July 2013

Michael Mcdonald

The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald has reached an out-of-court settlement with Warner Music over his digital royalty dispute with the major.

As previously reported, McDonald is one of a coach load of American heritage artists who have accused the major labels of short-changing them, by treating download money as ‘record sales income’ rather than ‘licensing revenue’, even though the agreements the labels struck with iTunes et al are called licensing deals. It’s a key distinction, because under most pre-digital record contracts, the artist receives a much bigger cut of licensing revenue than record sales money.

All this, of course, became big news after Eminem collaborators FBT Productions successfully sued Universal for a bigger cut of the digital money generated by Slim Shady’s early recordings, in which they had a stake. Numerous artists have since sued citing the FBT precedent, McDonald even hiring the same lawyer as the Eminem collaborators for his litigation against Warner.

No details of the settlement with McDonald are known, though it indicates that the majors are, in the main, keen to keep these lawsuits out of the courts, even though officially they deny any across-the-board wrongdoing.