Now it appears that at least two bands have a problem with what a label defines as “getting paid.”

Law firms Labaton Sucharow & Rudoff LLP and Probstein & Weiner filed a class-action lawsuit on April 27th on behalf of The Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick, claiming that Sony Music is not paying bands and artists the contractually obligated 50 percent of net licensing revenue resulting from sales of digital downloads.

Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Sony treats each download as a sale of a physical “phonorecord.”

This means the label pays on 85 percent of a sale after deducting 15 percent for “breakage,” even though there’s nothing to break when you’re dealing with computer files. The label then deducts a 20 percent fee for container/packaging charges as well as a 50 percent “audiofile” deduction. End result? The artists eventually get about 4.5 cents per download.

The lawsuit claims that Sony is treating digital downloads of songs by Cheap Trick and The Allman Brothers under the terms of distribution agreements instead of licensing agreements, which call for the 50 percent artist’s share. Evidently, downloads of songs by veteran performers are treated as distribution because record company contracts with such bands and artists predate legal online music sales.

Most online music services sell individual tracks for 99 cents, of which about 70 cents goes to the label while the remaining 29 cents is supposed to go to the artists.

The suit claims The Allman Brothers Band, Cheap Trick and many other bands have “been damaged in the amount of millions of dollars through the loss of royalty payments which Sony Music has retained for its own benefit in breach of the applicable contractual record royalty provisions.”

“Sony Music is presently engaged in a widespread attempt to underpay its recording artists,” said Brian Caplan, one of the attorneys representing Cheap Trick and The Allman Brothers Band in the suit. “With the technological advancements in the music industry, where many people download songs to their iPods and other portable devices, it is essential that artists receive the royalty income to which they are entitled.”