Caribou has said that Domino’s decision to remove three of Four Tet‘s albums from streaming services “can only be seen as a desperate and vindictive act”, while the label has released a statement saying they “remain hopeful that an amicable solution can be reached in the future”.
Four Tet – real name Kieran Hebden – signed with Domino in 2001 for the release of his second studio album, ‘Pause’. He went on to release three more records via the label: ‘Rounds’ (2003), ‘Everything Ecstatic’ (2005) and ‘There Is Love In You’ (2010).
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Earlier this year, Hebden announced he was claiming damages against Domino for a historic royalty rate applied to downloads and streaming revenue of his music first released in the ’00s.
In the ongoing suit, Hebden alleges that the label is in breach of contract over its 18 per cent royalty rate (which Domino applied to record sales) and says that a “reasonable” rate of 50 per cent should have been given to downloads/streams.
Hebden claimed in a thread of tweets over the weekend (November 21) that the label has now removed three of his Domino-released albums from online streaming platforms. The producer said he was alerted that the move was happening “in order to stop the [legal] case progressing”.
I’m so upset to see that @Dominorecordco have removed the 3 albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services. This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can’t stream the music and I’m sad to have to say that it’s out of my control.
— Four Tet (@FourTet) November 21, 2021
“I’m so upset to see that [Domino] have removed the three albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services,” Four Tet wrote. “This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can’t stream the music and I’m sad to have to say that it’s out of my control.”
Now, Caribou – aka Dan Snaith – has shared his thoughts on Twitter. “Please read this thread from Kieran @fourtet,” he began. “Kieran is my musical mentor and I’ve never met anyone as committed to the betterment of musical culture and being an advocate for independent artists as he is.”
Snaith continued: “His decisions throughout this have been consistently motivated by settling a fair precedent for other artists in similar situations rather than by his own self interest.”
The Canadian musician went on to say that “it’s often assumed that independent labels have the same interests at heart and are benevolent actors in the current music industry climate”, before giving shout outs to Merge Records and City Slang.
“But it is clear from their actions, that the management at [Domino] are not,” he added. “Knowing more about what is going on behind the scenes with this case only makes me more sure of this opinion.”
Please read this thread from Kieran @fourtet. Kieran is my musical mentor and I've never met anyone as committed to the betterment of musical culture and being an advocate for independent artists as he is. 1/ https://t.co/UJNJM1k2dR
— Caribou (@caribouband) November 22, 2021
Caribou concluded: “Taking down Kieran’s albums rather than allow a precedent to be set for musicians to receive [a] fair share of streaming revenue can only be seen as a desperate and vindictive act.”
In response, Domino has shared a statement with NME that says:
“Domino are just as saddened about this current situation. The decision to temporarily remove the three Four Tet albums from digital services was not taken lightly. We were advised to do so as a necessary consequence of Kieran’s litigation at this time.”
“Kieran began his claim about contractual provisions in his original 2001 agreement with Domino on 1st December 2020. Since then, we have offered both in correspondence and in open court to mediate, but have been rebuffed by Kieran and his legal team. We have continued trying to re-engage with them to find a solution to this dispute: one that is fair to both sides, but to no avail. Through all of this, we have been and continue to be open to discussion and mediation.”
“While we are equally as disheartened to have to take these steps, we remain hopeful that an amicable solution can be reached in the future. Our door is now and will always be open for further discussion with Kieran.”
I believe there is an issue within the music industry on how the money is being shared out in the streaming era and I think its time for artists to be able to ask for a fairer deal.
— Four Tet (@FourTet) November 21, 2021
Writing on Twitter last Sunday, Four Tet said: “I believe there is an issue within the music industry on how the money is being shared out in the streaming era and I think its time for artists to be able to ask for a fairer deal.
“It’s time to try and make changes where we can. I’m not driven by the money, but I have to make a stand when I am experiencing something that’s simply unfair.”
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists have since released a statement, saying that “the removal of Four Tet’s first three albums […] from streaming services by Domino raises all kinds of moral and legal questions about rights assignment and the power of labels over an artist’s work.”
It continued: “Regardless of the legal dispute between the two parties this is a misguided and self-defeating move, and we urge them to reconsider.” You can read the message in full below.
The MMF and @featuredartists have issued this joint statement regarding the news that Domino have removed three of Four Tet's albums from streaming services amid ongoing legal action. pic.twitter.com/qAmSx4gU5S
— Music Managers Forum (@MMFUK) November 22, 2021
The upcoming legal case is set to be tried by a judge at the Business and Property Courts of the High Court of Justice on January 18 next year.
Four Tet is seeking damages of up to £70,000 plus costs over the claim for historical streaming and download royalties as well as a legal judgement on the 50 per cent rate. His lawyers have argued that for all download and streaming services operating outside of the UK a 50 per cent rate would be applicable.
Domino has rejected that claim and highlighted a separate clause in the 2001 contract. “In respect of records sold in new technology formats other than vinyl, Compact Discs and analogue tape cassettes the royalty rate shall be 75 per cent of the otherwise applicable rate.”
It comes as regulators, industry figures and the government continue to scrutinise streaming remuneration for artists as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Select Committee’s inquiry into the matter.
Findings released last month saw MPs calling for new legislation that “enshrines in law [artists’] rights to a fair share of the earnings” to address the inequality in payments received by artists.