Pro Music Rights continues to press forward with its lawsuit seeking royalties from radio stations, but the upstart performance rights organization last week dropped its federal lawsuit against iHeartMedia and Napster parent Rhapsody. PMR declined to comment on the move, but both are now listed on its website alongside companies such as the video streamer Vevo and retailer Meijer with which it has licensing deals. In a brief filing in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, PMR said that as part of a voluntary agreement all three are covering their own legal and court expenses. Terms of the settlement were not revealed.
PMR continues to seek a licensing arrangement with the rest of the radio industry. Among the parties that continue to be part of a suit it filed in March are the Radio Music License Committee and the National Religious Broadcasters Music License Committee, as well as an array of music users including Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Deezer, Apple, Amazon, Google, Soundcloud, the U.K.-based 7Digital Group, the Digital Media Association, the Television Music License Committee, and the National Association of American Wineries, whose members play music at their vineyard shops.
PMR also specifically targeted Connoisseur Media in its suit, in what is likely a move to justify its filing of the case in Connecticut where the broadcaster is based. PMR’s earlier suits brought in New York have been dropped.
In its March complaint, PMR alleged broadcasters and streaming services have “shut PMR out of the market” in order to “fix prices” and maintain “the conspiracy in the buy-side of the market” to the detriment of songwriters. “They have choreographed a refusal, and continuous refusal, to deal with PMR,” said the suit. It added that music users have used “nearly verbatim excuses and language” in an across-the-board refusal to deal with the company.
PMR was created by Jake Noch, 21, who previously launched the label Brazy Records and the publishing house Sosa Entertainment at the age of 16. Through a series of deals, he has leveraged a content list during the past few years to amass what PMR claims is a 7.4% share of the U.S. music market. Its catalog includes works by such artists as A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell, Young Jeezy, Juelz Santana, Lil Yachty, Soulja Boy, Nipsey Hussle, 2 Chainz, Migos, Gucci Mane and Fall Out Boy, among others.
As Inside Radio reported in October 2018, PMR signed an alliance with the law firm Gora in Stamford, CT, to reach out to music users and begin efforts to enforce the copyrights held on more than two million musical works.
Spotify’s Second Legal Fight
While radio has recently been brought into the legal battle, Noch has been fighting on behalf of his independent record label Sosa Entertainment on a second front. Last November Sosa took on Spotify in federal court in Ft. Myers, FL alleging the streaming music service used “unfair and deceptive practices” by removing his label’s music from its service.
Spotify fired back in its own countersuit which called Noch a “fraudster,” claiming its decision to block Sosa music was justified. It alleged Noch designed a scheme to artificially generate hundreds of millions of fraudulent streams on songs he had seeded on Spotify’s online music-streaming service. It said it detected “highly irregular sudden spikes” of listening to songs in Sosa’s catalog with “blatant signifiers of artificial streaming” the likely culprit. “Noch’s objective was plain: to manipulate Spotify’s system to extract undeserved royalties at the expense of hardworking artists and songwriters,” said Spotify in its suit.
Noch responded to Spotify’s claims calling them “laughable and blatantly false” in a statement posted on Twitter. “Time will prove that we are right. Until then, I remain confident and joyful, knowing that Spotify will be the next Enron,” he said.
In addition to his music business, Net Savings Link appointed Noch as its chief executive in February. He said that he plans to steer the publicly-traded medical cannabis technology and software company into the music intellectual property sector by launching a music distribution service.