MIAMI — Superstar singer Enrique Iglesias filed a lawsuit against Universal International Music this week in a Miami federal court.
The singer of I Love How It Feels and I Like It claims the recording label stiffed him on royalties in the digital world. Some artists, including Miami‘s favorite son, can get 50% of a song’s net revenues each time it is streamed online.
Although the lawsuit mentions a demand of over $75,000, the actual amount Iglesias believes he was short-changed could be in the millions, according to a recording business source familiar with Iglesias’ download numbers.
The singer, and new dad of twins with galpal Anna Kournikova, signed with Universal in 1999 and started making albums – some in Spanish for Universal and some in English for its Interscope Records division — until he moved to Sony in 2015.
But while music for most of time at Universal involved DVDs and physical recordings, streaming became a thing toward the tail end of his contract.
And by then, Iglesias was one of the company’s big earners with worldwide chart-topping singles like Hero. The lawsuit mentions Iglesias’ Bailando music video had 2.45 BILLION views on YouTube.
With that kind of buzz, according to the lawsuit, the accounting Universal has been providing the 42-year-old performer don’t add up.
“Universal has been systematically underpaying Iglesias’ streaming royalties,” the lawsuit reads, “by calculating those royalties at a smaller fraction of the contractually-required 50 percent.”
In a statement Attorney James Sammataro, who reps Iglesias, wrote: “Universal has long ignored, and is now attempting to distort, the clear terms of its artist agreements so that it alone reaps the savings from digital streams. After lengthy efforts to have Universal honor its contractual obligations, Enrique’s team regrettably concluded that he had no choice but to file this lawsuit.”
No comment from Universal, which has yet to be served with the lawsuit.