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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 117375
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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3-way partnership among singer/songwriter, producer/artist

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3-way partnership among singer/songwriter, producer/artist and recording engineer who owns studio to produce a CD of singer's original songs. All recording/arranging/editing/mixing/mastering to be done on spec with a 3-way split of all sales revenue from the CD. Now singer wants to withdraw citing "personal reasons" during the last stages of CD mastering, after we have all put in a year of work creating a really great CD. As the recording engineer with a year of work invested in this project, what are my rights? I have all the files on my production computer.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Did you have a written contract in place for this arrangement?

Were there any cancellation provisions?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Our agreement was verbal and we worked in complete harmony for about a year until she began to make unreasonable demands during the mixing process. We attempted to comply as much as possible without compromising the quality of our mixes, but apparently she reached some impasse and has responded by withdrawing from the process indefinitely. I don't believe she anticipated the level of quality we were able to achieve in showcasing her songs. Now suddenly she wants to control the entire production without having the technical expertise to do so. We were in the process of achieving compromise on a song by song basis when she suddenly quit with only a few more songs to complete. Cancellation was never considered. We were creating a killer CD and we all knew it.

Thank you for your response.

In general, these agreements must be in writing to be enforceable pursuant to the statute of frauds. However, there are some exceptions and one exception is partial performance, which is what you are alleging here. Since you have performed and incurred expenses and costs and thus have damages, you could seek to hold her liable for paying for your share of the work invested into her project. You need to send her a letter and inform her she has breached your oral agreement upon which partial performances have been already rendered in reliance on her promise to perform and complete her performance. Tell her that if she refuses to comply and complete the agreement you will be forced to consider legal action against her for damages.

If she still refuses, then legally based on your agreement you would be able to pursue her in court for breach of contract and seek damages and at that point you need to get a local attorney to make her know you are serious and to also file suit against her for the damages she has caused in her refusing to complete her agreement with you.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

With regard to damages, if we were to apply the normal hourly rates for recording engineering and production, she would owe my partner and I an enormous amount of money at this point. Then, in addition, my partner played, bass, sax or flute, drums, percussion, and keyboards on almost every song. To pay an session musician for all these tracks would cost a fortune. Could you give us some guidance on how to estimate the damages we ask for?

Thank you for your response.

Yes, she could owe you an incredible amount of money and you can hold onto all of the work and not release it to her until she pays or complies with the agreement and performs.

You would add up the normal and reasonable costs for everything the two of you have in this project, your studio time and work as well as your friend's performances on the project. She doesn't realize likely how much she will end up owing for throwing this creative hissy fit.
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