Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Cash Money and UMG Over Drake Album Profits Move Forward
by Christian Emiliano
Back in January 2017, a label called Aspire Music Group filed a lawsuit against Cash Money Records. The label claims that they signed Drake to a contract in 2008 before Cash Money inked him to a new deal a year later. In exchange, Cash Money reportedly agreed to share one-third of the net profits from Drake’s first six solo albums with Aspire, as well as a third share in all copyrights.
Aspire Music Group say they have not yet received these payments from Cash Money, so they brought their claims to New York state court against Cash Money and Universal Music Group. According to court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Cash Money entered a motion to dismiss the claims because there was a provision in the agreement that forced Aspire to provide written objections within two years of receiving an accounting statement (which they allegedly failed to do).
New York Supreme Court Judge Barry Ostrager has now rejected Cash Money’s motion to dismiss the claim, and the lawsuit can move forward.
“The Money Defendants’ purported frustration of Aspire’s ability to perform any of these apparent conditions precedent necessitates denial of the Money Defendants’ motion to dismiss,” Ostrager explains in court documents. “Here, Aspire alleges the Money Defendants provided deceptive statements reflecting no monies due to Aspire and eventually ceased providing Aspire with any accounting statements. Aspire has provided documentary evidence of at least one request to conduct an audit of Cash Money and Cash Money’s purported failure to adequately respond.”
As The Hollywood Reporter points out, the liability of the lawsuit against Cash Money could end up in the hands of Universal because of its alleged status as equitable owner of Cash Money. Aspire argues that Universal “took advantage of Cash Money’s cash flow problems by satisfying debt in exchange for control.”
Ostrager explained, “Regardless of whether Cash Money’s purported relinquishment of its business to Universal is partially the result of freely executed contracts between the parties, the inquiry into whether, and to what extent, the contractual relationship between the two parties transformed over time into that resembling an alter ego relationship is necessarily fact intensive and requires discovery.”
The current lawsuit is just the latest in a long line of legal complications involving Drake’s management and loose ends that have still not been resolved from his career’s earliest days. “Soon as the album drop, I’m out of the deal,” Drake raps on Scorpion track “Is There More,” but it looks like the label drama will continue to follow him.