TaP Music Publishing announced today that they are co-funding legal action against Trax Records alongside artists Larry Heard (professionally known as “Mr Fingers”) and Robert Owens. The case, filed June 23, 2020 to the United States District court for the Northern District of Illinois highlights exploitation of the artists and their works, including unpaid royalties. This action seeks to vindicate Heard and Owens’ rights in various musical compositions and sound recordings that they created in the 1980s.
Larry Heard: “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.”
Robert Owens: “Trax’s treatment of those artists on its label is notorious to those in the electronic world. Many of my friends and fellow artists have been similarly treated. Hopefully this lawsuit will end Trax’s reign of non-payment. I’m grateful to TaP for their support in bringing this long overdue claim.”
Rene Gelston, Larry Heard’s manager, since 1989: “I discovered that Larry had found himself in a situation with Trax Records where his lack of legal representation on his first recordings allowed his artistry to be ruthlessly exploited. This story is true of Robert and lots of other artists signed to Trax. We are very happy to have found such a supportive publisher in TaP, to help us bring this claim to life”
Ben Mawson, TaP Music: “Ed (Millett) and I have always been passionate about electronic music and signing two pioneers of house music, Larry and Robert, to TaP Music Publishing, is a source of great pride to us. We are delighted to be able to support their claim against Trax Records who have behaved abominably over the years to many artists signed to them. 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”
Robert Meloni, Litagator at Meloni & McCaffrey: “During my 40 years of practicing law in the music business, it was not all that uncommon to see record labels failing to honor their agreements with artists, particularly African-American artists. Going as far back as Fats Waller, who practically gave away his rights to his iconic song Ain’t Misbehavin’ for a flat $500 just to stay out of alimony jail, through Little Richard, who was forced to sue his record label in 1984 for $112 million since he had not been paid any royalties since 1959, to Jimmy Hendrix and his infamous “1% contract” with PPX in 1965, all the way up to the legendary Chicago house music artists Larry Heard and Robert Owens and Trax Records – the subject of this lawsuit – African-American musicians have been especially victimized. Larry Heard and Robert Owens have filed this lawsuit to begin the process of righting the wrongs they suffered, our hope is that it may inspire other similarly situated African-Americans to stand up for their rights as well.”
via press release