Streaming video is the key to Peloton’s success. But like any good spin class, it’s the soundtrack that really does the heavy lifting. A new suit filed by The National Music Publishers’ Association alleges that the wildly successful exercise startup used north of 1,000 songs in its classes without the proper licensing.
The suit features a laundry list of publishers: Downtown Music Publishing, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, Royalty Network, Pulse Music Publishing and TRO Essex Music Group. While the list of musicians is a who’s who of Top 40 musicians: Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Wiz Khalifa, Thomas Rhett, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Florida Georgia Line, Drake and Gwen Stefani, for starters.
The plaintiffs are seeking more than $150 million in damages over the improper use of songs.
“Unfortunately, instead of recognizing the integral role of songwriters to its company, Peloton has built its business by using their work without their permission or fair compensation for years,” NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “It is frankly unimaginable that a company of this size and sophistication would think it could exploit music in this way without the proper licenses for this long, and we look forward to getting music creators what they deserve.”
The association is quick to note that Peloton managed to pull in a $4 billion valuation last year, not a great look if the claims turn out to be accurate.
Update: Peloton offered TechCrunch the following comment, “We just received the complaint yesterday, and we are evaluating it. Peloton has great respect for songwriters and artists. In fact, we have partnered with each of the major music publishers, record labels and performing rights organizations, and many leading independents. We have also invested heavily to build a best-in-breed reporting and licensing system to support our partners and provide our members with a world-class fitness experience.”