Travis Scott takes action against former management
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / August 2017

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT LAW Artistes   Travis Scott (Jacques Webster), the US rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, has accused the artist management company owned by music industry veteran Lyor Cohen (now  top music man at YouTube) of violating California’s Talent Agencies Act. It’s a two way battle: LCAR Management sued Scott earlier this year claiming that the rapper, who had been a client, owed the firm $2 million. Now, according to Billboard, Scott has responded by accusing LCAR of Talent Agencies Act violations by allegedly booking shows for him without the approval of his actual talent agent, and therefore acting as if a talent agency in itself – without a licence from the California state Labor Commissioner. Scott is seeking to void his contract with LCAR on the basis of the alleged violations. There are further allegations including that LCAR allegedly used Scott to promote Cohen’s other business venture, even though he had no affiliation with that business. LCAR is yet to respond to Scott’s claims.

Avenged Sevenfold look to leave Warners
Artists , Contract , Employment Law / February 2016

CONTRACT / EMPLOYMENT Recorded music, artistes     After releasing four studio albums for Warner Bros. Records, Avenged Sevenfold are trying to end their as-yet-unfulfilled recording contract, using California’s “seven-year rule.” In turn, the label has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the band, seeking compensatory damages. The “seven-year rule” enshrined in the California Labor Code allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed. Record industry lobbying led to amendments to the 70-year-old law in the 1980s, to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. However record companies only have 45 days to do so after an artist exercises the right to terminate. “Avenged Sevenfold recently exercised the rights given them by this law and ended its recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records,” the band’s attorney Howard E. King said. Since the 2004 contract was signed, King says the label “underwent multiple regime changes that led to dramatic turnover at every level of the company, to the point where no one on the current A&R staff has even a nodding relationship with the band.”  In its lawsuit dated January 8th, 2016, Warner Bros. says Avenged Sevenfold’s decision to utilise the “seven-year rule” is unlawful: The label says…

Blinkbox employees seek recompense after dismissal
Employment Law , Internet / November 2015

EMPLOYMENT Internet   A group of 80 former employees of the defunct Blinkbox music service have launched a £10m class action lawsuit against the company that acquired it from Tesco for damages claiming redundancy pay outs were not honoured. The claim is against Guvera Ltd and two of its UK-based subsidiaries, who purchased the music service from Tesco in January 2015. The lawsuit, issued through the UK Employment Tribunal, seeks damages following the dismissal of the entire workforce shortly after this acquisition. Blinkbox Music Ltd fell into administration in June, owing licensing debts to major record companies. The group of workers claim they were given written assurance from both Tesco and Guvera that they would receive redundancy payments if cutbacks were required. The lawsuit argues that the Blinkbox music service was taken from solvency (with a reported £3.5 million in the bank) to insolvency within 5 months following its sales to Guvera. The Guardian quotes  Paul Jennings, a partner at City law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite representing the former employees., who saud that 100 staff were dismissed without any warning and without any notice or redundancy payments saying “[Also] at the heart of this case is the data of 2 million to 3 million users of the…

Employees time travelling to work CAN be working time
Employment Law , Live Events / October 2015

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live events sector     The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has decided that time spent travelling to and from work for non-office based employees must now be classed as working time in a decision that may have a significant impact under the Working Time Regulations and arguably could impact on minimum wages in the UK. The case centred on a Spanish company, Tyco, whose employees were required to travel between client premises installing and maintaining security equipment.  The employees then became home based after the closure of their office.  A dispute arose about whether the time spent travelling at the start and the end of their working day should be classed as ‘working time’. Previously under the Working Time Regulations it was considered that working time did not include travel to and from work. The company  argued that this remained the same even with the change to a home base, but employees disagreed, saying theior travel should be classed as working time. These journeys varied greatly, with occasions of up to 100km of travel,  and the employees wanted to be paid for this additional ‘time’. The Spanish Courts sought clarification on the term ‘working time’ in…

Warners move to settle unpaid internships claim
Employment Law / July 2015

EMPLOYMENT All areas   Warner Music has submitted papers to a federal court in Manhattan proposing a settlement in the class action lawsuit that claimed the US arm of the recorded music major broke employment laws by taking on unpaid or very low paid interns. Two former Warner Music interns sued, with over 3000 former interns being subsequently contacted once the case became a class action against a backdrop of a move against unpaid internships in both the UK and the USA. $4.2 million is set to be paid over, with people who interned at the company without pay as far back as 2007 set to receive some form of payment, likely to be equivalent to what their work would have earned at minimum wage. According to Reuters, the deal is limited to 1,135 claimants. The deal needs court approval to go ahead. Meanwhile the mini-major says: “We continue to stand by our internship programme as an invaluable educational experience for students looking to obtain hands-on, real-world training”.

Korean teen stars face new legislation
Artists , Employment Law , Live Events / August 2014

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live events sector, broadcasting, artistes   Teenage Korean ‘K-Pop’ stars are facing new legislation put in place to protect young people  from onerous work schedules. Two provisions of a new law will affect pop performers in particular: Firstly, performers under the age of 15 won’t be able to work more than 35 hours a week, and those between 15-18 won’t be able to work more than 40 hours. The devil is in the detail (as ever) – and the question remains what “work” is defined as, with Music Times asking: “Does doing publicity count?” and “Does being present at a concert venue prior to going onstage count?” The legislation does allow that “exceptions can be made for projects requiring long-distance travel.” Minors will also be barred from practicing their craft between the hours of 22.00 and 06,00 which may provide ;ogistical huredles for the live events sector and live T. That statute can be waived of parental permission is granted The second provision affecting young performers is the section preventing minors from wearing skimpy outfits or performing “suggestive” dance routines – but again critics say the provisions are ill defined. The strength or weaknesses of the law aside,…

War Horse musicians fail to get their jobs back

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live events sector   Five musicians who were in the live orchestra for the London theatre shows of ‘War Horse’ have failed in a bid to get their jobs back after being made redundant and replaced by pre-recorded music. The musicians, backed by the Musicians Union, argued that their cutting from the production breached contracts they had with the show’s producer the National Theatre, and in an initial action the musicians attempted to get an injunction to force the NT to reinstate them pending a full hearing on the breach of contract dispute. However the judge in the case, Mr Justice Cranston, said that he wasn’t persuaded to issue the interim order, even though he thought the claimants’ wider case would be “strong” if and when it reached court. Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae – who had been with the hit show since 2009 – had their roles cut back in March 2013 to just a few minutes per performance before being made redundant. The National Theatre said the decision to cut live music from the show was made for artistic and financial reasons. According to the BBC,  the musicians’ legal counsel…

US lawsuit to put the spotlight on festival volunteers

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live events sector   A class action lawsuit in the States has put the focus on the use of volunteer labour at music festivals, something many large scale music events depend on. According to, a new lawsuit is aimed at Live Nation and its festival promotion partner Insomniac Events, and has been brought by an Elizabeth Valladares, who volunteered at the Californian edition of dance music festival Nocturnal Wonderland in return for a free ticket to the festival The plaintiff claims that the event’s organisers violated America’s Fair Labor Standards Act by recruiting volunteers to “carry out the work of paid employees”. Federal labor law defines a volunteer as an individual who “performs hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered”. ClassAction also note that California’s state labor laws would also apply to workers. The lkawsuit alleges that Valladares spent the entire time at the festival (12.30pm to 02.30am) in the general store selling goods to customers, except when taking a single meal break, and had no time off to enjoy the festival. The lawsuit claims Insomniac is taking advantage of volunteers’ love for…

Kylie dancers get paid after outcry
Artists , Employment Law / May 2014

EMPLOYMENT LAW Artists   Warner Music Australia has agreed to pay the dancers who appeared with Kylie Minogue in her new ‘I was Gonna Cancel‘ video and those who performed during a performance at the Logie Awards at least the legal minimum wage for Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of professional dancers were asked to work on the eleven hour video shoot for free, or below the standard rate. After complaints, some were then offered AUS$100 (about £55). Meanwhile, the dancers who appeared at the Australia TV awards ceremony were offered AUS$700 (£385) for their time. Director of the Equity Australia union Sue McCreadie said that Warner Music and the production company behind the video had now agreed to pay legal minimum rates to all of the 30 affected dancers for both performances. This ranges from AUS$174 (£95) to AUS$448 (£246) for the video (depending on each dancer’s experience) and up to AUS$1156 (£636) for the Loogie Awards show.

Unpaid intern brings class action against Warners

EMPLOYMENT Record labels   A former intern of Warner Music’s Atlantic subsidiary in the US is suing for unpaid wages as part of a class action which could extend to others in the same circumstances Justin Henry says he worked at the label for no wage between October 2007 and May 2008 in violation of New York labor laws. He also suggests that the practice of not paying interns had not always been company policy at Atlantic, and only began in June 2007. The lawsuit claims minimum wage for all hours worked, plus overtime, interest, unspecified damages and costs. Henry states that in his role tasks included answering telephones, photocopying and collecting lunch for permanent staff, which Henry and his lawyers argue this must constitute employment under New York law and doesn’t fit the regulations for classifying staff as unpaid interns. The lawsuit estimates that over 100 others could be due back pay under the class action and is calling for more former interns to come forward.

Notting Hill Music hit by £27,000 employment award

EMPLOYMENT All areas Music publisher Notting Hill Music have lost a case brought by former employee Luisa Berg who brought an action against the London based company after she was forced out of her job following maternity leave and offering Berg no choice between full time employment or leaving  her position as creative manager. The Employment Tribunal ruled the firm had unlawfully failed to make allowances for Berg’s baby daughter. The panel also ordered Notting Hill Music to attend equal opportunities training or face having the damages award set at £27,000 increased.

French love attracts labour laws
Artists , Employment Law / March 2008

EMPLOYMENT Artists, television Contestants on the French equivalent of Temptation Island, I’lle de la Tentation, have been awarded substantial payouts by the Paris Appeal Court which found their activities on the island were subject to full French Employment laws. Production company Glem, the reality division of broadcaster TF1, had contracted to pay each contestant E1,525 (about £1,200) as an advance payment against Image/merchandising rights. But the court decided that during the twelve day ordeal the contestants were employed as production staff and they worked 24 hors a day, 7 days a week. The French maximum working week is 35 hours and Glem were ordered to pay the three claimant contestants E8,176 in overtime, E817 for holiday pay, E500 for unfair dismissal and E1,500 for wrongful termination of contract with a further E16,000 awarded for illegal employment. Glem had said the contestants were engaged in entertainment, not work. In the UK we have not heard about any claims against the contracts contestants enter into with the producers of programmes like Big Brother and Castaway – but a number of contestants most notably Jade Goody have become national celebrities and have made substantial sums from a variety of new revenues streams after…

New UK Regulations for Booking Agencies and Entertainment Agents
Employment Law , Live Events / February 2004

EMPLOYMENT LAW Live Music Industry ARTICLE: The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 – By Ben Challis and Paul Fenn The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations will come into force in the United Kingdom, in the main, on 6 April 2004. The Regulations affect all employment agencies and employment businesses including entertainment agents and booking agents. The aim of the Regulations are “to make provision to secure the proper conduct of employment agencies and employment businesses and to protect the interests of persons using their services.” The Regulations include new procedural obligations. The major impact on UK booking agencies will be the requirement to have strict “compliance” procedures in place. In general, the regulations do not have any specific changes that will conflict with the usual day to day running of the agencies in their normal course of business, but a lot of additional paperwork will need to be generated. The Agents Association are currently working on the idea of developing a “Terms of Business” (ToB) letter that be issued to artists / clients that will cover the majority of the requirements of these regulations, along with a similar ToB to issue to Hirers (promoters) to satisfy…