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Four Tet settles streaming royalties dispute with Domino Records

The producer will now receive a 50% royalty rate on streaming and downloads following a lengthy legal battle

Four Tet settles streaming royalties dispute with Domino Records

Kieran Hebden, AKA Four Tet, has settled his legal dispute over royalties with record label Domino.

Taking to social media to confirm the settlement, Hebden said that Domino has recognised his original claim to receive 50% rate on royalties for all past and future streaming and download income. He was previously entitled to only 18% of royalties on a contract agreed before the advent of streaming and downloads that dominates how people consume music today.

While Domino still owns part of Hebden's catalogue for life of copyright – something which Hebden says he continues to disagree with – the label will compensate him with £56,921, the amount that is owed to him from the last six years. The label also agreed with his original claim that streaming and download income should be treated as license income rather than the same as a CD or vinyl sale.

"It has been a difficult and stressful experience to work my way through this court case and I'm so glad we got this positive result, but I feel hugely relieved that the process is over," Hebden said on social media. "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."

He continued: "I really hope that my own course of action encourages anyone who might feel intimidated by challenging a record label with substantial means. Unlike Domino, I didn't work with a big law firm and luckily the case took place in the IPEC court (where legal costs are capped) so I was able to stand my ground."

Speaking about Domino's refusal to give him back ownership of his catalogue of releases via the label, Hebden said: "I hope these types of life of copyright deals become extinct – the music industry isn't definitive and given its evolutionary nature it seems crazy to me to try and institutionalise music in that way."

Hebden's case against Domino began in December 2020 when he challenged the label on a contract that the two parties agreed to in 2001, some time before the launch of the streaming platforms that dominate people's consummation of music today.

With legal representation, he took the case to the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court (IPEC) where Domino initially rejected Hebden's claim that he should be entitled to 50% of royalties from streaming and download income, with the label continuing to stand firm on its belief that he should be entitled to the 18% of royalties that usually applies to physical music income.

When Domino removed Hebden's releases on the label from streaming platforms, and from general sale, late last year, in an attempt to kill off the case, the label's move was described by Hebden's legal representatives as "deliberate, cynical and outrageous".

The UK DJ and producer released three albums – 'Pause', 'Rounds' and 'Everything Ecstatic' – through Domino, in addition to a number of EPs and live albums. 

Domino has not commented on the settlement reached between the label and Hebden at the time of writing.