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Domino Records Says Four Tet Streaming Settlement Won’t Set Precedent for Artist Deals

"Neither the Courts, nor the settlement terms, have made any determination as to how streaming should be categorized or streaming income split," the label says.

After settling a years-long battle with Four Tet over streaming royalties, Domino Records label says it is “pleased that Kieran Hebden [Four Tet] has chosen to settle his 2020 claim and accepted financial terms first offered to him in November 2021.”

In a statement provided to Billboard, the London-based Domino adds that “Kieran’s claim arose from differing interpretations of specific clauses in a contract entered into by Kieran and Domino in 2001 in the pre-streaming era, and the application of those clauses to streaming income. Since 2021, Kieran has added to and pursued his claim despite numerous attempts by Domino to settle the matter.” Read the label’s complete statement below.

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While many in the music industry conjectured that this case could set a precedent for future artist and label royalty disputes, Domino notes that “neither the Courts, nor the settlement terms, have made any determination as to how streaming should be categorized or streaming income split.” Given that Hebden’s legal challenge was decided out of court, any future disputes in this realm would not be able to cite a legal judgement.

This agreement follows a case brought by Hebden against Domino in 2020 over the royalty rate Domino was paying him for streaming and digital downloads, with Hebden claiming a royalty rate of 50% and Domino defending its application of a rate of 18% to streams and downloads based on a contract signed in 2001.

On June 20, Hebden announced on Twitter that Domino Records has agreed to pay him a 50% royalty on streaming and downloads, and that the label has also agreed to treat these streams as a license, rather than as the same as a CD or vinyl sale. Legal documents shared by Hebden show that the court determined Domino is obligated to pay Hebden £56,921.08 ($69,918.72) for royalties dating back to July 1, 2017 — the difference between his original 18% royalty and the new 50% rate.

All streaming and download income earned on Four Tet music released by Domino will be paid at a 50% rate going forward, with the label having released some of the pioneering producer’s most influential albums including Pause, Rounds, Everything Ecstatic and Everything Ecstatic Part 2. These first three albums were removed from streaming platforms from November 2021 to February 2022 amid the dispute.

“Hopefully I’ve opened up a constructive dialogue and maybe prompted others to push for a fairer deal on historical contracts, written at a time when the music industry operated entirely differently,” Hebden wrote on Twitter, adding that “Sadly Domino still own parts of my catalogue for life of copyright and would not give me an option to take back ownership.”

While Hebden declined Billboard‘s request for additional comment, his lawyer Aneesh Patel recently told Music Week that “I hope that Kieran’s actions and the successful outcome he has achieved will give other artists more confidence to make fair challenges.”

Read Domino’s full statement here:

“Domino are pleased that Kieran Hebden has chosen to settle his 2020 claim and accepted financial terms first offered to him in November 2021. Kieran’s claim arose from differing interpretations of specific clauses in a contract entered into by Kieran and Domino in 2001 in the pre-streaming era, and the application of those clauses to streaming income.

Since 2021, Kieran has added to and pursued his claim despite numerous attempts by Domino to settle the matter. Neither the Courts, nor the settlement terms, have made any determination as to how streaming should be categorized or streaming income split. The case now having been settled, we are glad to be able to dedicate our full attention to resourcing and supporting our artists and we wish Kieran continued success in his career — Domino Records