Saturday, February 18, 2012

Music Business/Law Tips - "Breaking a Record Contract" (Part 9)

A final tactic would be for an artist to simply walk away from a contract and leave it up to the label to stop the artist from recording elsewhere. This technique would normally only occur when a contract is extremely unfair, and when there are several arguable grounds for termination. In particular, the artists Boston and Donna Summer were successful in using this technique to break away from their respective recording contracts.

In the Boston case, although arguably the contract period between Epic and the band had elapsed by time, Boston went ahead and signed a new recording contract with MCA instead of waiting for a resolution of the term conclusion and other disputed issues. Epic thereafter moved for an injunction, but it was denied and MCA released Boston's next album. Similarly, in the Summer matter, although it appeared that her Casablanca contract had terminated because of a key man clause which went into effect when the president left the label, Summer signed a new recording contract with Geffen instead of waiting for of a resolution of the key man and other disputed issues. Casablanca thereafter moved for an injunction, but it was denied, and Geffen released the next Summer album. No doubt many artists have utilized this scorched earth approach based upon the practical consideration that, after a cost-benefit analysis, the label will opt not to seek legal relief.

[final part next time]

Ben McLane Esq

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