Trønder rock legends are claiming rights spanning back to the turn of the millennium – including the music that made them stars in the ’80s.
– We were in that year after year, Tysland tells VG about the conflict between the artists and the record company.
– We have to put an end to this. We can’t go on like this for the rest of our lives. We’re becoming adults, the 71-year-old artist tells VG.
Åge Aleksandersen (73) has confirmed to VG that he and Tysland will go to court if they don’t reach a speedy agreement with Warner Music.
Via the law firm Thommessen, they have now sent a legal notice to Warner.
Artists claim exclusive rights to their catalogs, and they think they have an exclusive right all along, says artist consultant, Symonds Fiskvik.
– They think that it does not matter if they do not know this, because they have been misled and deceived. They believe this has been exploited behind their backs and are demanding compensation for it.
Liv O’Rebbe, Warner Music’s general manager, is aware of the criticism in this case, but does not wish to comment on it.
– I asked six years ago
Artists and the company argue about the music that elevated rock band Trønder to national treasure in the ’80s: Aleksandersen songs like “Levva lifet” and “Lys og varme”, songs from Germany like “Heile lifet” and “Gutta på” by “n” .
It was then released by a record company titled Plateselskapet.
The conflict of rights begins with the bankruptcy settlement of 1993, after the termination of Record Corporation.
The company was run by Gunnar Hordvik, one of Trønderrock’s most important men behind the scenes. He died in an accident in 2005.
The crux of the dispute is whether Hordvik actually acquired the music rights after bankruptcy in 1993.
Germany is convinced that Hordevik did not.
No one argues that rights have never been transferred from us. Then there are our rights, he believes.
Regardless, Hordvik went on to manage rights at his next company, Norske Gram, which, among other things, also released DDE and sold a large number of records in the 1990s.
It ended up with several resales of music from The Record Company, including Aleksandersen and Tyslands, with Warner Music, one of the three largest multinational record labels.
In 2016, Alexandersen and Tesland — and Hans Rotmo, who was not on the lawsuit notice now — contacted Warner about the rights issue.
The artists were also represented by Sæmund Fiskvik, for a long time one of the strongest players in the Norwegian recording industry, and now the president of the Producers Association Nora (Norwegian Recording Artists).
We’ve been asking for six years if Warner can document that Gunnar Hordvik bought the equity. Fiskvik claims they can’t.
“Cat in the Bag”
Fiskvik, who led the record label organization IFPI for a number of years, explains the distribution of rights between artists and record companies as follows:
Both parties essentially have “exclusive rights” to the recorded recordings, and through a recording contract, the record company will usually have the right to control the use of the music.
But if the record company evaporates, for example through a bankruptcy like the one mentioned above in 1993, the contract ends.
After that, the artist regains his exclusive right, thus leaving the artist the exclusive right to use the recordings. After that, the artists own the car keys and can drive wherever they want, Fiskvik says.
– It is common that the rights of the product, i.e. the rights of the record company, are sold from the estate, then a new owner comes. But this did not happen here.
Hordvik resold the now-disputed rights to TV 2 in 1997. It was acquired by record label EMI from TV 2 in 1999. EMI was merged into Warner Music in 2013.
From EMI, and later from Warner, you expect one hundred percent professionalism, and one hundred percent care when purchasing. They should carefully check that they are not buying a ‘cat in the bag’. They didn’t do the job properly, says Fiskvik, and they’re trying to defend that now.
17 million here and there
Over the past year, parts of the conflict have been treated as a case by the agency Gramo, which collects rewards on behalf of artists and record companies from radio stations, cafes, hotels, stores and others who use recorded music in public performances.
There, the artists succeeded in several rounds. In early summer, Warner sent a notice of the suit to Grammo. Then their lawyer told VG that it was the Grammo case management that they would eventually take to court. And as far as VG is known, the issue is still at the notification stage.
Legally, there is no doubt about it. We received approval for this at Grammo. Warner, on the other hand, only uses his power and trains, says Terry Tysland.
“Through the process, we’ve become more convinced we have good cards on hand,” Fiskvik says.
The stated legal action justifies, among other things, that income from sales and standard flow do not fall within Grammo’s purview.
Music released by Gunnar Hordvik via Norske Gram, which includes several Aleksandersen and Tysland recordings, has been digitally rights-licensed from The Warner Company to a small two-person company called Ergo Rettigheter since the turn of the millennium.
It has been and remains an industrial mystery why Ergo Rettigheter was allowed to manage music in this way.
But it was apparently profitable: in 2021, Ergo achieved a turnover of more than 17 million.
That same fiscal year, Warner Music recorded $17 million in rights acquisition expenses.
Neither party has commented on the amount, but confirmed that the transfer of rights has taken place.
In early 2022, Ergo Rettigheter ceased operations, with large funds distributed among the owners.
Fiskvik does not want to say what kind of compensation Alexander and Teisland want Warner.
Ergo Rettigheter has, in my opinion, a surprisingly large number, says Fiskvik, who promises that they will look closely at this as well.
We see the number 17 million twice, and we find it very interesting.
According to Fiskvik, it’s too late for the artists to notify Warner of the legal action.
– It’s too risky to go to trial, but a lot of money has been lost here, he says.
– We are talking about the pensions of mature men, the inheritance of their children.
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