ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, May 30, 2011

Curb Records Sues Tim McGraw

Tim_McGraw Country singer Tim McGraw (right) has been sued by his record label, Curb Records, over an alleged breach of contract.  Here is the complaint.  According to the complaint, McGraw has been recording with Curb since 1997.  The dispute relates to when McGraw recorded the master tracks for his new album.  According to this report on Taste of Country, the contract states that the new music must be delivered to the label, “no earlier than 12 months and no later than 18 months" after his prior album.  However, that timetable gets pushed back upon the release of a collection of McGraw's Greatest Hits.  The purpose of these term was to make certain that the music on the new album is "topical and new."  Curb Records claims that McGraw began recording the current album, Emotional Traffic, in 2008 but did not turn in the final cut of the album to the label until 2010.  That early start date renders the music as old as dirt and as stale as the corn bread from last year's Fourth of July parade.

In addition, since Curb recently released a McGraw Greatest Hits album, not only are the masters too old, they are also delivered too early, rendering them both as old as dirt and as premature as a Spring pig born in February.  Curb records alleges that McGraw is trying to fulfill his contractual obligations early and thus be free of them.

Curb seeks a judgment declaring McGraw to be in breach of his agreement with Curb, allowing it to enforce remedies provided in the agreement, and also in agreement of a 2001 settlement that reduced the number of albums McGraw was obligated to record with Curb from six to five.  As a result, if Curb is successful in its suit, McGraw would be obligated to provide yet another album on the terms specified -- or he'd have to somehow buy his way out of that agreement.  They are also seeking consequential damages and injunctive relief that would prevent McGraw from offering his services to anyone other than Curb records until he has completed the terms of his contract. 

As Reuters reports, all of this makes McGraw madder than a wet hen.  He has filed an Answer and Counterclaims against Curb.  He is seeking a declaration that he has delivered all the recordings that he was contractually obligated to deliver to Curb and is now free of further contractual obligations.  He also seeks advances, plus compensatory, consequential and special damages.  The heart of the dispute seems to surround the timing and frequency of Greatest Hits albums that Curb has released.  From McGraw's perspective, the releases prolong both the contract and the periods during which McGraw cannot release new material.  To date Curb has only released on track off the new album, the single “Felt Good on My Lips,” which spent several weeks at the top of the country charts.  If the album's release is delayed, fans will have to see McGraw perform them live, which he plans to do, claiming that the new material is "his best ever."  The whole thing is more complicated than one of Thomas Jefferson's plans for crop rotation.

[JT and Jared Vasiliauskas]

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