Low hit out at record label UMG for not returning rights to back catalogue

Low have criticised their record label, Universal Music Group, for not returning their rights to their back catalogue.

The band revealed the full extent of their struggle to get the rights back in a series of tweets, the first of which was posted after a fan asked if they could one day repress their 1994 debut album ‘I Could Live In Hope’.

“UMG won’t give the rights back. We’ve asked. Original advance was tiny, did 3 1/2 records with them that they won’t give back to us after 25+ years now,” they wrote. “They keep licensing to crappy reissue companies and we see nothing.”

Last year, Low vocalist and drummer Mimi Parker passed away after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2020.

“We can’t tour anymore,” continued the band, before explaining how playing live shows was their only source of income.

When a fan suggested the band could ask UMG to renegotiate their contract, especially in regard to licensing revenue, Low replied saying that they had “been doing that for several years now”.

“We get the run-around and end up nowhere,” they said.

Another fan noticed they had retweeted posts from Numero Group a few times, who had recently began producing a Blondie box set that UMG presumably licensed. They suggested this could be a way for Low to get their albums reissued.

“They are doing great work. Blondie is bigger. Smaller groups like us don’t have the pull to renegotiate. We are hardly worth sending the intern to the warehouse for. Maybe a little public pressure with change their mind. We don’t know what else to do,” they replied.

Low later thanked the fans who had shown support. Thank you, friends. If this doesn’t work, it’s safe to say we’ll know where UMG stands. The system will crumble – they have a chance here to adjust and be useful to the future or fade to dust, clinging to their pieces of silver. Love you all. Peace on earth.”

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans also took to Twitter to show his support for the band. The 2021 revenue for Universal Music Group was over $10bn (yep that’s 10 BILLION dollars). @lowtheband are unable to tour, so their income is solely from their recorded music. This just doesn’t seem fair at all.”

NME has contacted UMG for comment.

UMG is also facing a class action lawsuit from the hip hop duo Black Sheep, who claim the music giant owes them and other artists approximately $750million in unpaid royalties.

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