McDonald Sues For WMG Royalties

Warner Music Group is facing yet another breach-of-contract action from one of its artists over digital download royalties.

Michael McDonald filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville May 21, alleging WMG deliberately underpaid him for online music sales through sites including iTunes, according to documents obtained by the Tennessean.

The suit seeks at least $500,000, and claims the underpayments were “part of a conscious decision by Warner … to deprive artists of their proper royalties.”

But McDonald’s suit also takes things one step further, contending there is a “conspiracy among record labels” to underpay artists that “could not have been accomplished if any one label accounted for and paid licensed download royalties correctly.”

Eminem, Peter Frampton, Kenny Rogers and “Weird Al” Yankovic have filed similar suits over download royalty rates in recent years, and all shared the same attorney – Nashville’s Richard Busch. Em was reportedly awarded between $17 million and $20 million from Universal and 50 percent of all revenues from iTunes downloads last year.

Busch told the Tennessean additional suits are likely.

“We continue to be contacted by similarly situated artists who are interested in pursuing similar claims,” he said.