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Hugh
Hugh, Composer, Producer and Performer
Category: Entertainment
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Experience:  20 years experience in performing, studio sessions, producing, composing, entertainment management.
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I was in a succesful singing group over in europe. Last year

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I was in a succesful singing group over in europe. Last year we was to come over to USA and start up over here. We have a management company over there and a new one for over here both of which we had contract with to get us started. They were supposed to pay us $5000 a month plus living expenses while we were recording an album. There was also another company telling us they were investing in us. A few weeks ago the investing company pulled out and now we are not getting paid and the lawyers we have say we can sue for breach of contract but not get any money that was promised us that we can only get out of our management contracts. I moved to NY to do this on thier promises they made to us. They told us they had millions to promote us. Is it true we cannot get any money even though it was promised and in contracts.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Entertainment
Expert:  Hugh replied 4 years ago.
Hi. Thanks for your question.

Without the agreements in front of me, it's difficult to say what you are entitled to, especially with two management companies involved. Those contracts can get complex in regard to the situation you are in.

Was there a contract involving the investor? If not, that will be difficult to enforce. From reading this, it seems that the money was coming from the investors, not the management company. If there was an agreement outlined between managers to pay you the 5K plus living expenses, that is one thing, but if it solely fell on the investors, then you may have no recourse against management. After all, if they put together the deal, that doesn't mean it is their fault, if it fell through. Again, without seeing the agreements in question, this is tough to surmise.

You may be able to get out of your management contracts, but that really depends if there truly was a breach regarding the necessary elements in the agreements. Unfortunately, 1st pencil contracts (or standard "template" contracts) are often ambiguous and open to interpretation. This is done deliberately, usually by the party who makes the offer. If the party in agreement doesn't demand details, then the party who makes the offer has a great advantage. If consideration is not specifically spelled out, then it may be tough to enforce, or define the breach of contract.

Also, merely telling you they have millions is just lip service. Talk is cheap in this business. If I could only keep track of how many times I've heard that very same thing...

I'm by no means an entertainment attorney, but I have years of experience in promotion and entertainment management. I've seen your situation many times.

Go to an "entertainment" attorney - not just any attorney. Though I am being general in this post (mainly because of the unknown of these agreements) - there are many music industry standard practices that non-entertainment attorneys won't understand. Also, it can help if you have an e-attorney who knows the players. They have a way of "fixing" issues faster than someone who is not connected on the inside. Just what I've learned from experience.

Good luck.
Hugh

Edited by Hugh on 2/15/2010 at 5:04 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well the main management in Germany and the new management here did have a contract with us . The german management has the contract with us where they have to get us someone to get us an album recorded by October and pay us for living and a salary. the new managent has the contract saying to pay us the $5000 and pay our living expenses and get the album released by October.. They had the deal with the investment place that fell through. They have been paying us and we have been recording for 4 months. We took a break and things fell apart. I moved back to NY being told everything was ok and now they tell us the investors pulled out becasue of some argument the heads of the companies had. Our lawyers ay they are in breach now becasue they missed thier pay for us for this month but we have to give them 30 days to try and solve the breach which wil be up the 3rd of March. But now we have been told we can only get out of our contracts and not get any money. I am just questioning this becasue we all have been working over seas for 5 years and very successful over there and we have moved over here and spent so much and gave up so much and now they just drop us like this. Does this sound right to you? Should I go to a different lawyer than I have now? The management companies also owe them a lot of money because also in our contract the management companies had to pay them. I had quit the group befroe we came to the USA and they all talked me back into rejoining and made all these promises. Isn't there what is called a handshake contract.
Expert:  Hugh replied 4 years ago.
This is intricate, and again, dependent upon the language in the agreements. If the German company has agreed to get your album recorded by October (or what I may presume as a record deal, perhaps?) - then they have October to do so. Therefore, they might not be liable. Again, I go back to the agreements. I don't know what is in them.

But the company who agreed to pay your 5K and living expenses - that is a different story. But...if the attorney says you can pull out, but not get paid - then there may be a stipulation in the agreement that releases the US company from paying you anything (for instance, if the deal falls through, or if the investor backs out etc).

But, if there is no such thing outlined in the contract, then by law, you most certainly have remedies, such as attorney fees and costs, specific performance and compensatory damages. That is typical with a breach of contract.

I can't answer your question in regard to if it is right that a company would just dump you, knowing the success you've had. Obviously, they felt they could do something if they were willing to transfer the band to the states. However, there are so many things that could play out here - especially if the deal they gave you was solely dependent upon the investor that pulled out. Unless it was a known, or reputable management company, they probably did not have the cash to payroll you. They took a risk, and a blew up. Again, speculation, but typical.

This is a sticky scenario, especially when you have multiple parties like this. What is the position of your German management company? From the sound of it, it is they who hired the attorney, since they have to pay for it. May be a potential conflict of interest there. But...don't know.

Again, very tough to surmise without all the agreements and facts in front of me.

In terms of the handshake agreement, used to be very common in the entertainment industry - but written is always better and easier to enforce in court.

I can't recommend getting another attorney without all the known facts, but again, I emphasize getting a reputable entertainment attorney if you do not have one.


Thanks!
Hugh

Edited by Hugh on 2/15/2010 at 6:39 PM EST
Hugh, Composer, Producer and Performer
Category: Entertainment
Satisfied Customers: 59
Experience: 20 years experience in performing, studio sessions, producing, composing, entertainment management.
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