by Sean Smith
SiriusXM has agreed to settle a number of lawsuits that will see the satellite radio provider pay up to $99 million. The lawsuits pertain to songs that SiriusXM have played which were recorded prior to 1972, when federal copyright laws began to take effect.
The class-action lawsuits were brought by members of the 1960s band The Turtles, who filed suits in three states. The terms of the settlement in California court will see SiriusXM pay $25 million dollars, with a possible additional $15 million if The Turtles prevail in the two remaining suits in Florida and New York. The agreement will also give SiriusXM permission to play recordings made prior to 1972 by members of the class-action suit over the next 10 years with a 5.5 percent royalty rate. This could net the plaintiffs another payday of between $45 and $59 million.
This settlement does not apply to pre-1972 recordings owned by major record companies however, as a separate suit brought by the major labels was settled for $210 million in 2015.
With The Turtles scoring a big victory this week for not only themselves, but for independent artists and smaller record labels as well, this week we want to take a few minutes to remember a big hit that The Turtles scored for themselves late in the 1960s.
On February 14, 1967, Valentine’s Day appropriately enough, The Turtles released what would become their most successful single of their career with “Happy Together.” The single was the title track from the band’s third studio album released in April of the same year. The track was a commercial smash for the band as it quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for three weeks after unseating The Beatles chart-topper “Penny Lane”.
“Happy Together” was written by songwriters, and former members of the band The Magicians, Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon. Unbelievably enough, the duo shopped the now iconic track to nearly a dozen bands prior to The Turtles, and they all turned down the chance to record it. While the song’s title may suggest a couple “happy together,” the song’s lyrics actually describe an unrequited love. A man trying to convince a woman how wonderful of a relationship between the two of them could be. One of the final lines in the song “How is the weather?” signals to the listener the singer trying to change the subject after being rebuffed by his love interest.
So with The Turtles and SiriusXM coming to an agreement over the use of pre-1972 recorded songs a few days ago, this week we remember The Turtles 1967 #1 hit “Happy Together.” Enjoy.
White Whale Records