Aimee Mann, rocker, singer, songwriter, is in the news today not because of her music but because she alleges in a lawsuit that she’s not being properly paid for her music to be streamed over the Internet.
Mann is claiming damages for abuse of licensing for 120 of her tracks, and she’s looking for up to $18 million. That’s a crazy figure, but Mann’s argument may be anything but crazy. The company in question is MediaNet, which began as a venture that EMI, BMG, RealNetworks, and AOL all paid for before going to a private equity firm in 2005. It claims to be the license holder for about 22 million tracks, and sells its licenses–and thus enables music to be streamed–to about 40 online services including Yahoo Music. But Mann says the company doesn’t actually hold the rights to her songs.
The lawsuit strikes at the messy tangle of laws and agreements that cover streaming music licenses in the U.S., and effectively says artists are being shortchanged by companies that are making money out of the digital music revolution. Mann’s voice is joining the likes of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who also claims that streaming music services are shortchanging artists. While neither of these two successful, creative folks exactly needs the money, they are powerful figures in the industry, and their actions may have repercussions for artists who don’t have their status.
Every year, Fast Company names its 100 Most Creative People, highlighting the global leaders in tech, design, media, music, movies, marketing, television, sports, and more. Mann, and other thought leaders, will be considered for 2014’s list.