Former Label Head Says Tame Impala’s Royalties Issues Were a ‘Misunderstanding’
It's a music industry story as well-worn as an old "Jailhouse Rock" 45 – sometimes you can be in one of the biggest bands in the world and still not make any money.
That's what Kevin Parker, Tame Impala frontman, says happened after the release of his band's 2012 breakout, Lonerism. In a Reddit AMA back in April, Parker said that, despite the huge success of Lonerism, the band hadn't made a single cent in royalties outside their native Australia. (The band is due to release their eagerly anticipated followup, Currents, on July 17.)
"Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala's record sales outside of Australia, I had received zero dollars," Parker wrote. "Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money."
That "someone high up" would allegedly be Steve Pavlovic, the (now former) boss at Tame Impala's old label, Modular. Before Universal took over Tame Impala's contract, Tame Impala was handled by Modular, which also delivered Aussie acts like Wolfmother and Cut Copy. After Parker's comments hit the press, BMG Rights Management sued Modular on Parker's behalf for the missing money.
Now, Pavlovic, the founder of Modular, says the payment issue with Tame Impala was all a misunderstanding. "The issue arose out of an unfortunate misunderstanding due to their being different ways of calculating and paying mechanical royalties in the U.S. compared to the process we were used to in the U.K. and Australia," Pavlovic told Billboard.
Pavlovic said the issue is being ironed out with BMG -- he says just last week the companies came to an agreement on how much money is owed to Tame Impala -- and that BMG is dropping their lawsuit.
He also insists it's inaccurate for Parker to say he wasn't paid anything for the Tame Impala releases. "It is simply not correct to say that Kevin has never received a cent from sales internationally because advances are just that -- an advance payment against future royalties and Kevin has been the recipient of considerable international advances from BMG, Universal and Modular," he said.
Meanwhile, Pavlovic is no longer CEO at Modular -- the company is being absorbed by Universal and Pavlovic was left behind after a contract dispute. "I look forward to bringing the same vision and passion that spearheaded Modular to my next venture," he told Billboard. "And make no mistake, there will be more ventures!"
Tame Impala – "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" (Official Music Video)