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Business Adviser Sues Recording Artist for Nonpayment of Contractual Obligations


Some recording artists save their best riffs for songs about how, in the entertainment industry, talk is cheap, everyone is fake, and everything is a lie.  Just by reading the titles of “The Stroke” by Billy Squier and “Have a Cigar” by Pink Floyd will have their riffs stuck in your head, with no way to cure the earworm except to listen to the song all the way through.  The empty promises of showbiz are all too familiar to performers and all the folks who work behind the scenes to ensure that the show must go on at any cost.  You should never make plans, especially not financial ones, based on a promise, until you have it in writing.  Once you have a written agreement saying that someone will pay you, it is easier to prove what the terms of the agreement were, and that the other party has not performed their end of the deal.  If you formally agreed to do business with someone, but your collaborator did not pay you according to the terms of the contract, contact a Los Angeles business litigation lawyer.

The Details of the Contract

The contract looked great in writing.  In 2019, a recording artist who had recent chart success hired a business adviser.  Pursuant to the contract, the adviser’s duties were to “advise and counsel” the artist regarding his “activities in the entertainment industry.”  The contract was to expire at the end of 2021, at which time the parties would have the option to renew it.  During the contract period, the adviser was prohibited from providing similar services to competing artists, defined as male hip hop artists who had released a single or album that charted within the past three years.  The contract specified that the artist must pay the adviser two payments of $150,000 in 2019, four payments of $100,000 in 2020, and four payments of $100,000 in 2021.

Where Things Went Wrong

In 2019, the artist made the two payments of $150,000 each to the adviser, but he did not make any payments in 2020 or 2021.  In many industries, one could chalk this up to pandemic-related disruptions and even invoke force majeure clauses in the contract, if it contained them.  But recording artists were unusually productive during the pandemic; for more than a year, there was nothing to do but stay home and listen to music, and with modern technology, you don’t have to be in the same room with your collaborators to record a hit.  Just look at the dozens of artists who collaborated with Elton John on the Lockdown Sessions.  In 2022, the adviser sued the artist for breach of contract and promissory fraud, seeking $800,000 as compensation for the contractually obligated payments that the artist failed to make.  News sources did not report any subsequent developments related to this story; most business lawsuits settle without going to trial.

Speak With a Los Angeles Business Dispute Lawyer

A Los Angeles business dispute lawyer can help you if a business collaborator failed to pay you according to the terms of your contract.  Contact Litigation, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call (424)284-2401.


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