Eminem was not a participant in the landmark lawsuit against Universal Music Group that named him as a plaintiff, but he will most likely see his net worth significantly grow after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case last week.
“As of now it’s worth $17 million or $20 million, but on a future accounting basis, five or 10 years from now, it could easily be a $40 million to $50 million issue,” F.B.T. Productions’ manager Joel Martin told the New York Times. After initially signing Em, F.B.T. continues to collect royalties on his music; the Detroit-based production outfit initiated the digital royalty lawsuit against Aftermath, Interscope and Universal Music Group.
Representatives from Universal stated the case would not set a legal precedent when UMG appealed the initial ruling in September of 2009. But older artists, who didn’t originally have digital royalty clauses in their contracts, are hoping otherwise.
“This is life-changing,” Joyce Moore, the wife of Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, told the Times. The song “Soul Man” is just one of the songs from Moore’s catalogue that is getting royalties at the old 12% rate. “If we were being paid a nickel a download, as opposed to 35 cents—that’s a huge amount of money for a guy that is on a fixed income or has to run up and down the road at 75 years old.”
Despite dwindling overall sales, many labels still bring in tens of millions annually from music contained in older catalogues. But the advent of digital downloads and the legal language over how their royalties are split has been a major sticking point. In addition to F.B.T.’s suit against UMG, The Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick sued Universal and Sony BMG over similar royalty issues.