R. Kelly isn’t the only musician sweating over legal troubles this week.
Atlantic Records filed a lawsuit in Manhattan’s District Court on Thursday against two members of reunited grunge rockers Stone Temple Pilots. According to Reuters, the suit accuses frontman Scott Weiland and drummer Eric Kretz of trying to get out of their recording contract with the Warner Music Group label prematurely.
The filing contends that Weiland and Kretz have threatened to stop performing under their current contract and that they’ve indicated that they’d like to end the agreement unless Atlantic makes some significant changes. In the suit, the label claims that, though STP have written and recorded six LPs, it wants them to record a seventh — and deliver up to two more, should the label decide it wants them.
The band issued a statement Friday morning (June 13), expressing surprise and disappointment in Atlantic’s litigious move, and suggested that a new album could be put on hold because of the proceedings.
“Stone Temple Pilots were deeply disappointed to see that Atlantic filed a surprise lawsuit against two members of the legendary band … when they were in the middle of what were believed to be cordial and positive discussions about STP returning to the studio to make a new album after 5 years,” the statement read. “Despite the allegations in the complaint, the band never threatened anything more than remaining away from the studio until equitable terms could be arranged. The precipitous filing of this action is yet another example of the difficulties facing artists in the new music environment, as relationships between artists and their labels fall further and further apart.
“Eric and Scott have not yet been served and hope that Atlantic will allow cooler heads to prevail and have the courtesy of shelving this action to permit negotiations to continue in a positive spirit rather than under a dark cloud of hostility,” the statement continued. “Should everyone operate in good faith, STP are certain that a new album from the band will be available soon. Should Atlantic instead pursue this scorched-earth policy towards the band, the ultimate victims will be STP’s fans, who will never be able to enjoy a new album from the group.”
After the band split in 2003, the other two members of Stone Temple Pilots, guitarist Dean DeLeo and bassist Robert DeLeo, were released from their recording contract so that they could pursue separate careers, Reuters reports. Atlantic’s suit claims the band is now touring successfully and that STP had indicated their intention to record again. Atlantic claims its contract with the band was written under New York laws and that the musicians are trying to use California laws to abolish it.
The label is asking for a court declaration of its rights under the recording contract, in addition to the costs of legal fees incurred by the move and any other relief the court decides is appropriate.
“American Idol” producers are also having a rough week, after the American Federation of Musicians slapped them with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, claiming that musicians who performed on the show were underpaid.
According to Associated Press, the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges that American Idol Productions Inc. and a subsidiary, Tick Tock Productions Inc., violated a collective bargaining agreement by not paying musicians for live music that was re-recorded for reruns of the show. A spokesperson for the show had no comment on the lawsuit.
The federation claims that the “Idol” contract says the show’s musicians should be paid royalties for rebroadcasts of the show and 75 percent of scale if they appear in the original broadcast and rehearsals, plus an additional 10 percent of that paid to a union pension fund, with smaller percentages for each rebroadcast.
The suit also claims that in 2007, “Idol” producers started cutting out the show’s soundtrack and using different musicians to re-record new music for the highlights wrap-up show “American Idol Rewind” without informing the union. A spokesperson for the union’s West Coast office could not be reached for comment at press time.
In other legal news, it seems Jay-Z is at the center of an $88 million lawsuit filed against him by boxer Mitchell Rose. In the suit, which seeks damages for “loss opportunity and mental distress,” Rose claims the rapper and former Island Def Jam head “stole lyrics, which resulted in copyright infringement by using selected parts of material from a music CD” that Rose maintains he “personally have to Jay-Z” during a boxing match at Madison Square Garden.
Rose’s suit claims he invented the technique of “whisper rapping” and that Jay-Z adopted the style without giving credit where credit was due.