Jay Z started streaming music service Tidal last year, claiming that it would benefits artists. Yet a recording artist is suing Tidal, which allegedly payed him less than he’s owed.
The suit was filed in federal court in New York on Saturday by John Emanuele, half of the duo American Dollar.
Jay Z has attracted some high profile artists to Tidal, such as Kayne West, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, to the site with his claim that it would be better for artists than other services such as Spotify and Apple Music. He said it would be owned by the artists That claim is mocked by the lawsuit.
“Different owner, same game,” it charges. “Defendants’ systematic failure to obtain … licenses is part of an egregious, calculated, and ongoing campaign of deliberate copyright infringement.”
The suit charges that no matter how Tidal is treating some of its big name stars, it is ripping off independent artists whose songs are on the service.
“Defendants made a calculated business decision to avoid the cost of complying with the law,” the suit charges. “Instead, defendants entered into blanket licenses that cover most of the songs in their library, but ignored the 35% made up of independent artists.”
The suit says that Emanuele holds copyrights on 118 songs, and that Tidal owes him $150,000 per song, or $17.7 million. But the suit seeks class action status on behalf of other artists on Tidal.
Spokesmen for Tidal as not immediately available for comment on the suit Tuesday.