K Records’ Calvin Johnson Addresses Unpaid Royalties Following Artist Complaints
Formative Olympia, Wash.-based indie label K Records’ financial duress was recently publicized following a string of complaints from disgruntled artists, and now, founder and Beat Happening leader Calvin Johnson has addressed their statements, saying the label doesn’t “have any money.”
Former Moldy Peaches frontwoman Kimya Dawson first broadcast her dissatisfaction with the label and Johnson specifically in a Facebook post. “If I unfriended you it might be because you associate with Calvin Johnson and it makes me f---ing ill every time pictures of him pop up in my feed,” she wrote.
Dawson went on to claim the label gave her an estimate of its outstanding royalty payments, and it “was a good six figures under what they actually owe me.” She also says the label’s repayment plan was structured so she would be “paid off in maybe 30 years.”
“Do I make music for the money? Absolutely not,” Dawson wrote. “If the music I make sells do I want the money that is rightfully mine? Absolutely yes. People don’t speak up because they get accused of all kinds of s--- when they do. I just can’t even handle people talking about how super rad K is when it’s a broken sinking ship.”
Dawson wasn’t alone in her frustrations. Phil Elvrum (aka Mount Eerie and ex-Microphones frontman) shared his own experiences with K. He asserted the label still owes him “a bunch of money and that communication about this over the years has been pretty difficult.” Elvrum, however, admitted the label recently made “some real efforts to fix it and pay the back payments.”
Johnson opened up about the issues artists have raised as of late, saying the label has recently made cutbacks in assets and staff, but he assured, “We’re always going to be here.”
“It’s not like we’re sitting on tons of money and are not giving it to [Dawson],” Johnson told the Stranger. “We don’t have any money. We’re trying to work it out so we can pay her. We’re selling everything we can to make money to pay the people we owe. I’m sorry it can’t happen faster. Both Ms. Dawson and Mr. Elverum have been kept apprised of this and are fully aware of what steps are bing taken to rectify the situation.”