19 Recordings, the entity that enters into record deals with the recording artists who win American Idol, has sued Sony Music for allegedly stealing millions of dollars after underpaying the company in terms of royalties. The 33-page complaint, available after the jump, opens with a list of American Idol success stories and then documents in detail how Sony Music reportedly stole millions from them. 

According to the suit, Sony misclassified streaming music sales to pay 19 Recordings less than what the company was owed.  Another claim is that Sony was supposed to obtain approval from 19 Recordings after a certain ceiling cost for advertising was reached, but Sony failed to seek that approval before spending 19 Recordings’ royalties without its consent. The remaining allegations similarly claimed underpayment for royalties, improper passing of expenses on 19 Recordings, not allowing 19 Recordings to audit all of Sony’s books, and claims related to royalties for individual artists.

Interestingly, 19 Recordings filed in federal court. 19 Recordings is the little guy in this action — with the backing of name brand stars — and it seems that the company might fare better in state court.  The suit comes just after Season 13 of the show premiered on Fox.  The suit seeks $7 million in damages and $3 million in prejudgment interest.

Keep reading to see the complaint…

19 Recordings v. Sony Music Entertainment


Jenny M. Brandt is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in the Bay Area, California. She loves all things criminal law, celebrity gossip, and corgis, and has a blog at www.juicejusticeandcorgis.com. She graduated from UCLA (’05) and UCLA School of Law (’09) with a concentration in Critical Race Studies.


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