Warner Music Group (WMG) and Warner Records have been sued by music exec and producer Mike Flynn for allegedly backing out of an offer for a $500,000-per-year A&R job.
Filed in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday (February 4), the lawsuit claims that ex-Capitol and Epic exec Flynn began negotiating with WMG for a position as an EVP or SVP of A&R at Warner Records in late 2017, and that WMG subsequently “reneged on the Employment Agreement”.
A Warner Records spokesperson told MBW today that Flynn’s claims “are totally baseless.”
Flynn’s suit claims that WMG “initially attempted to justify its decision to back out of the Employment Agreement based on a false claim that a human resource ‘internal investigation’ into Flynn had uncovered negative issues about him”.
It goes on to claim however, that “the reasons Warner gave to Flynn for reneging on the deal were false”.
“Warner never conducted an ‘internal investigation’ that uncovered negative issues about Flynn before reneging on the deal,” reads the complaint.
“Warner subsequently withdrew the claim that Flynn was the subject of the negative allegations allegedly turned up by Warner’s purported ‘internal investigation'”.
Flynn was subsequently offered a consultancy role by Warner in March 2018, according to the filing. Flynn’s complaint states this role was “unfortunately…far less lucrative than the Employment Agreement” and served as “further evidence that the reason Warner gave for reneging on the Employment Agreement was fabricated”.
According to Flynn, the terms of the initial deal at Warner Records that he claims he was offered included a three-year contract with a $500,000 base annual salary and a $25,000 bonus for each artist signing.
The filing also claims that he was offered “reimbursement of recording studio costs of $5,000 per month” and that he would be allowed to “perform producer services for Warner-signed artists,” entitling Flynn to a 4% royalty derived from carrying out those production services.
Flynn claims that he “has not been able to secure employment comparable to that promised by Warner” since the agreement fell through and that he turned down “lucrative” potential jobs at Sony Music and 300 Entertainment to accept the apparently nixed offer.
The exec is suing WMG for breach of oral contract, promissory estoppel, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, negligent interference with prospective economic relations and intentional interference, with contractual relations.
Warner Bros Records CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck has been named as a defendant.
In September 2017, WMG issued a press release announcing that Bay-Schuck would be leaving his role at Interscope to become CEO of Warner Records – a position in which he wouldn’t actively be able to start until a year later due to his still being under contract at the Universal label.
Flynn claims that he “text messaged Bay-Schuck regarding the press release”, and that Bay-Schuck in turn “immediately began recruiting Flynn to join Warner” via industry lawyers Joel Katz and Duane Sitar.
The lawsuit claims that “Bay-Schuck’s negotiations with Flynn fed into and complimented [sic] the negotiations between Flynn’s counsel and Warner”.
Damages in the lawsuit are unspecified, and Flynn is demanding a jury trial.
According to the filing, “Flynn is a seasoned music executive and record producer” whose career has spanned more than 20 years and has spent over 10 years as a senior A&R executive.
Previous roles held by Flynn include Head of A&R and Staff Producer, for Sony/Epic Records and Executive Vice President, Head of A&R, and Staff Producer at Capitol Records.
At Capitol, according to the filing “he discovered and/or supervised multi-platinum artists including Katy Perry, Troye Sivan, Jon Bellion, Tori Kelly, and NF, as well as legendary artists, such as Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, Don Henley, and Brian Wilson”.
The filing adds that Flynn’s work “has generated over 30 million adjusted, worldwide album sales, including over 18 billion on demand streams, and that work led to multiple Grammy nominations”.Music Business Worldwide