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Glassnote comments on Childish Gambino royalties dispute

By | Published on Wednesday 11 July 2018

Childish Gambino

Record label Glassnote has issued a statement about its legal action against Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, responding to media coverage of its recent court filing. Glassnote is in dispute with Glover – who released three albums with the label – over the royalties those records generated via US collecting society SoundExchange.

Whenever satellite or online radio services, including personalised radio services, exploit the American compulsory license administrated by SoundExchange, resulting monies are split 50/50 between rights owner and performers.

Which means that when SoundExchange collected monies for the streaming of Glover’s Glassnote-released records, 50% was paid to the label, and 50% directly to the performers. That’s all the performers, so 45% would go direct to Glover, while 5% would be paid over to session musicians who appeared on any tracks.

Since Glover stopped actively working with Glassnote, having signed a new deal with Sony, his people have seemingly decided that the actor/musician should have been receiving all of the SoundExchange royalties minus the session musicians’ share.

To that end, they want the label to hand over an additional $1.5 million. Glassnote disputes that claim and went legal last week seeking court confirmation that it was due 50% of SoundExchange monies.

The label was pretty blunt in its legal filing, stating: “Glover, apparently unsatisfied with the approximately $10 million in royalties already paid or due to him by Glassnote and the 45% of the public performance royalties from SoundExchange, took the position that he was entitled to the entirety of Glassnote’s 50% share of public performance royalties from SoundExchange – and that Glassnote was not entitled to any such royalty”.

It then added: “Given Glover’s intransigence, Glassnote has no choice but to seek a declaration that it, and not Glover, is entitled to the 50% portion of the SoundExchange monies, and hereby requests such relief”.

However, Glassnote reckons that some media coverage of the legal filing has misrepresented the dispute. It takes particular umbrage with TMZ’s suggestion that it has accused Glover of “screwing” the label out of money.

In a statement issued to Pitchfork, the label states: “Unfortunately the reporting by TMZ is not accurate. We are not claiming Donald Glover screwed us out of anything. Donald Glover made a claim that he was owed 95% of SoundExchange royalties when we are legislatively and contractually required to share those royalties 50/45. When we tried to assert our position, he became strident”.

It goes on: “His lawyers sent a demand for $1.5 million and threatened a lawsuit on his behalf. We have simply asked the court to review the contract and to provide a declaration of relief that our position is correct pursuant to our contract and federal copyright law and that monies paid by SoundExchange to Glassnote can be retained by Glassnote, in the same way that monies paid by SoundExchange to Donald Glover can be retained by him”.

Clarifying what Glassnote hopes to achieve from its legal action, the statement concludes: “I’d like to point out that in our eleven years of operating we have never been in litigation with an artist. We are not asking for anything back from Donald Glover, just that we are able to retain the monies that are contractually and legally ours and that have already been paid to us”.