Federal Judge Orders Slacker and LiveOne to Pay SoundExchange $9.8 Million In Owed Licensing Payments

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Photo Credit: LiveOne

LiveOne (formerly LiveXLive) and its Slacker Radio subsidiary have been ordered to pay about $9.77 million in owed licensing payments to SoundExchange, which filed a lawsuit against the audio-entertainment platform in June.

The multimillion-dollar payment just recently came to light in a consent judgement order. In the aforesaid complaint, however, SoundExchange claimed that licensing installments from Slacker and LiveOne (NASDAQ: LVO) had “slowed and finally stopped” in the summer of 2017.

Additionally, SoundExchange (which collects royalties for the use of recordings on non-interactive digital radio services) maintained that Slacker and LiveOne “ultimately owed millions of dollars in outstanding royalties and late fees,” in part from an alleged underpayment for 2013-2015.

But 2020 saw the involved parties ink a “Royalty Payment Plan Agreement,” encompassing a two-year schedule under which the defendant entities would cough up the sum in question, according to the original suit. Needless to say, given the action that arrived subsequent to the deal, LiveOne and Slacker are said to have defaulted on the plan in August of 2021 and missed other payments during the year.

The courtroom confrontation entered the media spotlight at about the same time that LiveOne reported a 79 percent year-over-year revenue jump for the 12 months ending on March 31st. Moreover, LiveOne execs took the opportunity to tout their company’s tie-up with Tesla, and the pact appeared to contribute to the roughly one million paid users that LiveOne said Slacker had added since Q1 2021.

As initially mentioned, Slacker and LiveOne have been ordered to pay $9.77 million or so to SoundExchange.

The precise sum entered in the judgement, $9,765,396.70, reflects an agreed-upon repayment amount minus about $2.46 million already paid under the above-highlighted plan as well as an additional $2.58 million for post-default missing payments.

Lastly, the legal text indicates that the defendants “are permanently restrained and enjoined from using the Copyright Act’s ‘statutory license’ to make digital transmissions of sound recordings,” but not from closing licensing deals with SoundExchange moving forward. Plus, SoundExchange will have the chance to collect attorneys’ fees from LiveOne and Slacker, the document shows.

At the time of this piece’s writing, LiveOne didn’t appear to have commented on the judgement on its website. But the Los Angeles-headquartered company, which announced last week that it had debuted a wine brand with “R&B hitmaker Jeremih,” is on track to secure two million paid users on Slacker by March of 2023, according to guidance released in September.

Meanwhile, LiveOne’s overarching audio division – consisting of PodcastOne and Slacker – is poised to generate $88 million in revenue during the 2023 fiscal year, per the same source, against $126 million to $129 million for the entirety of the business’s operations.