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Sony Music sues Triller

By | Published on Tuesday 30 August 2022


Sony Music has sued Triller, claiming that the video-sharing app has failed to make the payments due under its licensing deal with the major for months now. Not only that, but when the record company terminated that deal because of the missed payments, Triller continued to exploit its music without licence.

According to Billboard, Sony claims in a lawsuit filed with the courts in New York yesterday that Triller “historically failed to make payments in a timely manner”. However, the problems really began in March this year when the Triller company allegedly stopped making payments entirely, with millions of dollars now owing. Requests for payment have been met with “near-total radio silence”.

As Triller’s debts to Sony mounted, the major formally notified the video-sharing company that it was in breach of contract on 22 Jul, and then terminated that contract on 8 Aug. As a result, Triller was no longer licensed to utilise Sony controlled music on its platform.

But, says the lawsuit, “Triller has continued to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, create derivative works, and otherwise exploit the valuable Sony Music content in connection with the Triller app”.

Triller previously had a falling out with Universal Music, which – in early 2021 – said that the digital firm was withholding payments and had failed to negotiate a new licensing deal after a previous short-term licence had expired.

That dispute didn’t go legal, although Universal did announce that it was pulling its catalogue from the Triller app. It was then confirmed that a new licensing deal had been agreed in May 2021.

However, Sony isn’t alone in suing Triller over unpaid fees. Timbaland and Swizz Beats recently sued the Triller company claiming that they are owed money from a 2021 deal in which Triller acquired the rights to Verzuz, the livestreamed DJ battle format that the two producers launched in 2020.

Following an interesting back and forth with media about that dispute – documented by The Verge – Triller insisted that the run in with Timbaland and Swizz Beats wasn’t caused by an inability to pay monies still owing from last year’s Verzuz deal. Instead, the additional payments in that deal were linked to certain obligations being met and “we don’t believe they have met the thresholds for that payment yet, but [we] have been trying to resolve it amicably”.

It remains to be seen how Triller responds to the Sony dispute. These lawsuits are being filed as the Triller business is busy trying to get an Initial Public Offering off the ground. As part of that, yesterday it announced that it had “completed a substantial pre-public financing in the form of debt and equity”.