Many Florida residents may remember the song "Play That Funky Music," a hit for the band Wild Cherry in 1976 that remains popular today. The song continues to generate revenue, but as with so many things in the complicated world of royalties and licensing, it can be difficult to keep track of all the royalties that should be paid to the artists. One former band member of Wild Cherry sought assistance from a company to track down unpaid royalties. Under the agreement, the band member would pay commissions for any royalties found. According to the company, the band member suddenly stopped paying, causing a royalty dispute, which was recently settled.
The company, Records on the Wall LLC, was to receive commission payments from Wild Cherry's former bassist, for any royalties found. The company found numerous unpaid royalties and received payments from the bass player from 2002 to 2014. In 2009, he reportedly complained that the commissions were too high and that he had paid the company enough. He also told the other members of Wild Cherry to end their contracts with the company. His last payment was in July 2014.
In May 2015, Records on the Wall sued the bass player for breach of contract. A settlement was reached and, while no details were disclosed, an attorney for Records on the Wall claims that both sides were satisfied with the agreement.
Writing songs and playing music comes naturally to musicians, but royalties can be a foreign concept. Many entities use songs without a songwriters' permission, so it can be difficult to track down all the television programs, films and other media works that should be paying royalties or licensing fees to the copyright holders. When a songwriter does use an outside service to find royalties, it's important to abide by the contract. Otherwise, a costly legal battle can ensure, as seen in this case.
Source: Union Leader, "Exeter firm, ex-Wild Cherry band member settle royalty dispute," Jason Schreiber, July 16, 2015