MANHATTAN (CN) – A veteran producer for Queen, Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy Osbourne and other rockers claims Sony Music Entertainment underpaid royalties for his work on 21 Journey songs and owes him more than $1 million.
Roy Thomas Baker has been producing albums for iconic rock bands since the 1970s, including Journey, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner and Queen. He most famously produced the Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Baker says he produced the master recordings to 21 Journey songs, which were first released on the band’s “Infinity” and “Evolution” albums and later compiled in a “Greatest Hits” album that sold more than 80 million copies worldwide. The songs included “Feeling That Way,” “Anytime,” “Just the Same Way,” “Wheel in the Sky” and “Lights.”
Sony was supposed to pay Baker royalties under a producer agreement, according to his 18-page federal lawsuit. But Baker says an audit of Sony’s books revealed that the music company had been underreporting his royalties by more than $475,000 for the period audited.
He says Sony is refusing to release other documents that might uncover additional underreporting since the audit, and he estimates that his royalties may have been underreported by more than $500,000 before the audit using Sony’s incorrect rates.
“There was no way for plaintiff to know of this fraud by Sony because of its concealment, and plaintiff reasonably relied to his detriment,” the lawsuit states.
Baker says Sony also charged certain deductions on CDs and foreign digital downloads that were either higher than allowed or were not in the original producer agreement.
Sony allegedly admits to some of Baker’s claims, but chalks them up to the “over-linking” of accounts, which it says limits the company’s liability.
The producer adds that Sony never paid him royalties for Journey’s “Departure” album or its “Greatest Hits DVD 1978 – 1997,” released in 2003, and that Sony stiffed him on royalties for music and ringtones downloaded via iTunes, eMusic, Amazon and other digital music providers.
Baker says he opted out of a class action over Sony’s alleged failure to correctly pay artists for downloaded music because the proposed settlement in March “is wholly insufficient to make plaintiff whole.”
Baker and his company, RTB Audio Visual Productions, demand $1 million and an order forcing Sony to pay him half of its net receipts from leasing the 21 master recordings.
His attorney is Richard Busch of King & Ballow in Nashville.
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