Megan Thee Stallion has sued her record label in a dispute over the legal definition of an album. The rapper released Something for Thee Hotties in late October and was allegedly informed by her record label two months later that its release did not satisfy her contractual obligations.
The label, 1501 Certified Entertainment, is expected to argue that Something for Thee Hotties is not an album under Megan Thee Stallion’s contract and thus does not work to fulfill a requirement in her contract to deliver a certain number of albums. Instead, the label allegedly claims that the work is a mixtape.
Megan asserts that her contract only defines an album as a body of work with a run time of over 45 minutes. Something for Thee Hotties is 45 minutes and 2 seconds long. Megan’s legal team suggests that the only reason her label would call Something for Thee Hotties a mixtape rather than an album is to “tie [Megan] down” for the label’s “financial benefit.”
What distinguishes an album from a mixtape in the digital age may be hard to determine. According to a 2013 Vice article, the distinguishing factor is the goal of the body of work. An album is used to “move units and to generate singles” while mixtapes attract new fans, boost social media engagement, and give the artist a reason to tour and the ability to showcase collaborations with bigger artists. “Mixtapes move a rapper’s career forward, and they can do that without selling a single copy.”
The concept of selling single songs off of an album, introduced by Napster and replicated by iTunes, combined with the ability to consume music through streaming, may further confuse the definition. It remains to be seen how 1501 will try to distinguish an album from a mixtape in court.
The lawsuit seeks a non-monetary declaratory judgment that the record meets the definition of an album that would satisfy Megan Thee Stallion’s contract. It also asks for the label to pay any attorneys’ fees.
The rapper previously sued her record label in 2020, claiming they were preventing her from releasing new music because she wanted to renegotiate her contract. That suit was dropped and the label allowed her to release her music.
Megan Thee Stallion Sues Label Over Definition of Album, Forbes (February 24, 2022)
Megan Thee Stallion suing record label over ‘album’ definition, BBC (February 23, 2022)
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