Martha Davis and ‘The Motels’ Sue EMI over Royalty Payments


Martha Davis, a founding member of the ’80s rock band The Motels, filed a class action lawsuit today against the EMI record label.

Davis and her group are known for their 1980’s chart topping hits, “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.”

The legendary songstress accuses the label that she and The Motels originally signed with of shorting her out of music royalties due under the parties’ original contract (read the lawsuit below).

Davis charges EMI with mischaracterizing digital downloads and streams of her work by using a lower-paying sales theory, rather than under a license theory which would mean higher royalties for she and other artists who signed with EMI.

Her lawsuit was filed only a day after Tower of Power sued Warner Music for underpaid royalties using a similar legal theory.

Davis cites EMI’s own braggadocio to show that it’s no Johnny-come-lately in the business of generating digital music revenues:

when digital music began to take off in the 1990s, EMI was well placed to respond to the new trends. EMI Music’s websites went live in 1993 and 1994 and in 1998 EMI streamed the first complete album over the internet, ‘Mezzanine’ by Massive Attack. The following year EMI was the first company to release a digital album download, David Bowie’s ‘…Hours’ EMI also launched the first internet video single in 2001. In 2007 EMI was the first major music company to make its music available without digital rights management (DRM) software.

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Today EMI Music has agreements with hundreds of digital partners to distribute our music across the globe, covering a huge variety of digital music business models and ideas.

Read Martha Davis’s class action against the EMI record label here:

Class Action Complaint (Martha Davis, as assignee of ‘The Motels,” et al. v. EMI Group, Ltd.)