Peloton Is Getting Sued for $150 Million for Allegedly Ripping Off Musicians
With a $4 billion valuation, you'd think the company could afford the music it's profiting off.
Photo by Peloton
Peloton, the aspirational lifestyle stationary bike that you probably love to hate, is being sued by a group of music publishers for a whopping $150 million because it allegedly ripped off some of the musicians whose songs it uses in its exercise classes. The press release from the National Music Publishers' Association, which claims Peloton didn't obtain the right licenses for that music, said the company has "released thousands of videos that include unlicensed music."
Classes are a core component of the Peloton model. It's not just the bike you buy, but also a pack of streamable classes that, as the company loves to say, make for "game-changing cardio." These classes are, of course, separate from the cost of the bike—$39 a month, on top of the $2,245 you shell out for the thing itself. (You can also subscribe to the digital classes even if you don't own a Peloton product.) As of 2019, Peloton was valued at $4 billion, and it's sold more than 400,000 bikes. It's apparently also a favorite of the rich and famous, from Olympian Usain Bolt to actor Hugh Jackman.
The lawsuit hinges on something called a "sync license," which companies have to obtain for songs they synchronize with videos. The complaint claims that Peloton was aware of this license and, in some cases, actually obtained it, at least in agreements with some music labels and publishers. But when it comes to the plaintiffs, the suit claims, Peloton "continues to be knowing and reckless" in just forging on ahead without it.
“The best analogy to this would be is if a movie used music and didn’t have permission,” NMPA President David Israelite told Rolling Stone.
“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," Israelite said in the NMPA press release. "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."
Anyone who's taken a workout class knows how important music is to actually having a good time. A whole heap of songs Peloton apparently swindled are from hard hitters, including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. The complaint even lists a few specific tracks, like Gaga's A Star is Born hit "Shallow" and "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence. Whoever's managing to work out to those songs, congratulations: Your tastes are... interesting.
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