When Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and film director Rob Reiner released Spinal Tap in 1984, very few people expected that film to initiate a completely new genre, or to be even considered as one of the best rock music films ever made, or be included in the New York Times’ “Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made”, Entertainment Weekly’s “100 Greatest Movies of All Time”, and Total Film’s “100 Greatest Movies of All Time.”
It seems that the ones that expected it the least were MGM/Universal Music Group (UMG) who, according to DigitalMusicNews (DMN), paid the creators only $98 in soundtrack royalties between 1989 and 2006 and a measly $81 in merchandising royalty since 1984.
Quoting one of the songs from the film, “Gimme Some Money”, The Guardian, who along with DMN, Rolling Stone, and others, reported that the film’s creators, who initially sought $400 million (started out with $126), have reached an undisclosed settlement with UMG. And as The Guardian points out, “the suit over royalties from the film is ongoing.”
Putting some gloss on it, Harry Shearer said that, “from the moment we first began mediation with them to now, I’ve been impressed by UMG’s respect for creatives and their distinctive desire to seek a prompt and equitable solution to the issues.”
What is making both sides happy is that according to the settlement UMG will continue to distribute Spinal Tap’s music, although “eventually the rights will be given to the creators. The parties look forward to making these beloved recordings available to existing and new Spinal Tap fans for years to come.”