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Talent is the key to succeed, they say. But how often is that talent regarded and appropriately monetized? Definitely several talented ones make it to the skies, but very few lucky ones get the correct rewards. The others, well, are paid off with negligible amounts or nothing at all. Same is the grievance of producers Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers and Robert Owens against Chicago music label Trax Records. The two have filed a federal copyright infringement complaint on June 23, 2020 before the Federal Court of Illinois accusing the music house for unpaid royalties.
The evidencing documents show that numerous songs including “Washing Machine”, “Can You Feel It”, “Beyond the Clouds”, “Donnie” and “Distant Planet” produced by Larry Heard, together with “Bring Down the Walls”, “Never No More Lonely” and “Bye-Bye” written by Owens, make part of the Trax Records marking the suing artists as the registered copyright holders. Despite of that, never did they receive any payment or royalties for the works.
The lawsuit stated, “Talented, but unrepresented, musicians hungry for their first break were lulled into a business relationship with an unscrupulous record company that made promises it never intended to keep and masqueraded as paternalistic benefactors for those artists – like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” It was further mentioned that the legendary Trax Records “build its catalogue by taking advantage of unsophisticated but creative house music artists and songwriters by having them sign away their copyrights to their musical works for paltry amounts of money up front and promises of continued royalties throughout the life of the copyright.”
To support the artists financially, the British publishing house TaP Music Company offered a hand. On such co-funding, TaP’s head Ben Mawson commented, “We would ask any such affected artists to reach out to us and we will endeavour to support them however we can. Hopefully those in control at Trax now decide to do the right thing, after many years of shocking disregard for their artists.”
Concerning non-payment of royalties and copyright infringement issues, the duo is seeking damages over $1 million from the lawsuit. Aggrieved Mr. Fingers said in a statement, “After doing several releases independently, it was so disappointing that my earliest ventures into the music business was with a label in the community that turned out to be dishonest, like with many other artists that we hear about all too often. We are simply seeking justice and fairness. Maybe our efforts will shed light on the many predatory practices that have been in place for a long time in this industry.”