Monday, May 6, 2013

LMFAO Sues Management For Getting Them Work

LMFAO image
A good manager gets his act work, but in California and New York that can mean some pretty negative consequences down the line. When a musical act is first starting out they have no leverage, not hits and no juice, so most promoters and agents won't take a chance (as many of you probably know only too well). In this early career stage, a good manager is the only thing between them and obscurity. The act needs work and the manager does whatever he (or she) has to do, which means booking gigs without the help of an agent.

But the problem is that in California and New York, this is illegal as an agent always must be involved thanks to a law known as the Talent Agencies Act. As a result, many an act has used this law to break their contract with their manager after becoming more successful. For example, here's an excerpt from Chapter 27 of producer Ken Scott's memoir Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust where he describes the same situation he endured as manager of Missing Persons.
"Even though I had a contract with them, they found a way around it in a way that could only happen in California or New York. There’s a very strong law in this state whereby a manager cannot ”procure employment” for an act, only a licensed talent agent can. It’s an arcane law more designed to protect the movie agents of the 1930s than a music artist of today, but it is a law. Well, early on I got them an appearance on Solid Gold, which was one TV show that helped them sell a load of records. Since they got paid scale for it, that meant that I, the manager, had gotten them employment. As a result, they threatened to take me in front of the California labour board, which could have ended up turning out very badly for me. If you go in front of the labour board as a manager and it’s found that you did indeed procure employment, then the labour board can determine that the contract that you have with the band is null and void and never existed, thus any monies you had received because of that contract have to be paid back to the band. That’s what happened with the band Weezer, and both Ke$sha and Lady Gaga are bringing the same action against their former managers right now so they don’t have to pay them commission."
Now the same situation plays out again with a twist. LMFAO's former management company RPMGRP is suing the act for $7 million in commissions it feels it deserves after the act fired the company and poached two of it's employees to act as salaried managers just as the band was hitting it big. LMFAO claims that because RPMGRP got them jobs at various parties and clubs in the early days of the band, their original contract is null and void thanks to the TAA.

This can be a pretty cut-throat business sometimes, but the spirit of this law stinks as it's a no-win situation for any manager. Management is a key commodity in the music business these days, but you'll see fewer and fewer managers taking chances on young acts as long as a silly law like TAA is held over them.

For more excerpts from Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust and other books, go to


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