Megan Thee Stallion drops album during legal fights with label

Houston-based rapper, Megan Thee Stallion, real name Megan Pete, released her latest album “Suga,” at midnight on March 6, amid legal disputes with her record company, 1501 Certified Entertainment.

On March 1, Stallion went on Instagram Live to make her fans aware of her record label’s attempt to prevent her from releasing her album. Stallion filed her lawsuit on March 2 and a Harris County District Court judge promptly granted her a temporary restraining order, preventing 1501 Certified Entertainment from interfering with the release of her album, according to Pitchfork.

Drama ensued when the CEO of 1501Certified Entertainment and former MLB star, Carl Crawford, called out Stallion’s allegations and said, “It's a whole lie.” Part of his defense is that he was not directly in charge of drawing up the initial contract.

In an interview with Billboard, Crawford said that “Her mom did the contract. I'm new to the business. I let this guy T. Farris run my whole business, because I knew absolutely nothing about it. Zero. So he wrote your contract up. I didn't do it.”

Stallion’s court case was filed on the grounds that her contract is so unfair as to be unconscionable. Her recording profits are split 40 percent to her and 60 percent to the entertainment company. Already, this proves to be lower than the average 50-50 split that occurs for most artists.

Stallion’s lawyer, Richard Busch, who represented Marvin Gaye’s family in the dispute over “Blurred Lines” copyright, argues that Stallion is losing even more profits from a fee taken by 300 Entertainment, a distributor for 1501 Certified Entertainment.

Stallion also has what the industry understands as a “360 deal,” where the artist’s label shares in profits from other sectors that the label is not directly involved in, such as publishing or touring income. Altogether, Stallion seems heavily disadvantaged due to all the shared profits and purposefully vague terms written into her contract.

Stallion claims that because she was so young at the time of the creation of the contract, she did not have the proper knowledge or ability to fight for a better deal. Stallion has slowly distanced herself from Crawford, signing with Roc Nation last September. Roc Nation is owned by Jay-Z and is purportedly paying her more, according to Crawford in his interview with Billboard. Subsequently, Crawford claims Stallion stopped complying with the contract they still had together.

While this specific fight may seem like a new drama, it’s merely a twist on the same old rift between artist and record label. This incident is eerily familiar to what Taylor Swift went through in November 2019 when Scooter Braun bought her old record label, Big Machine Records. Big Machine Records was Swift’s first label and still owns the masters to all her albums before her latest one, “Lover.”

Braun used to be Kanye West’s manager, at least during a large portion of the rivalry that occurred between the two artists. To take back control of her own music, Swift promised that she would re-record her songs when her initial contract with Big Machine Records allowed her to.

It seems Swift still has not forgiven Braun for not letting her buy back her records, dropping not-so-subtle indications in her new music video for the song, “The Man,” released on Feb. 27. In the video, there is a sign which states, “Missing: If Found, Return To Taylor Swift” surrounded by all the names of her albums that Braun still owns.

Stallion and Swift may be just the latest artists experiencing battles over their rights to profits and masters. Artists, such as Prince, Paul McCartney and Boston R&B band New Edition, have all gone into the courtroom to battle for their works. In the case of Prince, the artist wrote “SLAVE” on his face to publicize the fact that he felt used by his record label, Warner Bros.

Unfortunately, the law errs on the side of the record labels and might do so in Stallion’s case. To definitively prove that Stallion was taken advantage of and is stuck in an unfair contract, Stallion bears the onus of proving her case to the court. She might ultimately decide to just settle to at least get a more advantageous contract.

As Swift said on her Tumblr, “This is what happens when you sign a deal at (15) to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept.” Just as Stallion faced pressures as a young artist starting out and not understanding the industry, Swift experienced the same beginning and continues to pay the price today.

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