Rising country superstar Kane Brown is on the receiving end of a lawsuit from a disgruntled producer who claims he discovered the singer and was cast aside when he shot to fame.
Billboard reports that producer Polow da Don has filed suit against Brown, alleging the country singer “blatantly” breached a contract he says they signed before any major label was interested in Brown.
The producer’s real name is Jamal Jones, and as Polow da Don, his credits include Usher, Rihanna, Pitbull and Nicki Minaj. His legal filing claims that he “discovered” Brown in 2015, at a time when RCA Nashville’s parent company, Sony Music, had passed on signing Brown to a deal because he didn’t have enough career development.
“This sort of artist development was exactly what Jones offered,” the filing alleges. “Jones’ vision was to create an entirely new sound that crossed genres and appealed to numerous consumer bases.”
Jones’ suit claims that Brown entered into an exclusive personal services agreement with Jones’ Zone 4 record label that included one album with five options. He says that contract awarded Zone 4 50 percent of Brown’s record royalties and advances and 25 percent of his ancillary income, including exploitation of his likeness; his services as an actor or performer, songwriter, producer, mixer or remixer of master recordings; any books, magazines and other publishing materials written by or about Brown, including music publishing; Brown’s services in relation to others’ music; and all live events that included Brown.
Jones and Brown subsequently worked together on three recordings, one of which — “Used to Love You Sober” — helped launch his career. Jones says he reached out to Epic, a different division of Sony, in regard to Brown at that time without reaching a deal, but his lawsuit claims that Brown and his team began conversations directly with Sony about signing Brown, resulting in a deal with RCA Nashville and the re-release of “Used to Love You Sober.”
Re-released in February of 2016 after Brown signed with RCA, “Used to Love You Sober” eventually reached No. 15 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
According to the lawsuit, “Those parties began negotiating and eventually executed a direct recording deal without Plaintiff’s involvement despite Plaintiff holding the exclusive rights to Defendant’s recording services.” Jones alleges that Brown refused to communicate with him and changed his phone number early in 2016, and alleges that Brown’s attorney told Jones his agreement with Brown had been terminated. The filing claims Brown and his team have ignored Jones’ requests for an accounting. He says he is due a portion of Brown’s deal with RCA Nashville, as well as his publishing deal as a songwriter with Universal Music Publishing Group.
Jones also alleges that his requests for a full accounting have been met with “protracted periods of silence punctuated only by an occasional email setting a time to speak that eventually gets rescheduled or simply ignored.” He further claims that Brown’s legal counsel threatened him with legal action after he repeatedly requested an accounting of Brown’s financial gains since their work together. His filing asks for unspecified compensatory damages, a full accounting of all of Brown’s revenue pursuant to their agreement and a court order forcing Brown to perform services and pay a percentage of his revenue to Jones company under the terms of their original agreement.
Brown has gone on to enjoy a massive career upswing that includes No. 1 hits with “What Ifs,” his duet with Lauren Alaina, as well as “Heaven” and “Lose It.” He is currently on the road on his headlining Live Forever Tour, and his current single is “Good as You.”
Attorney Richard Busch represents Zone 4 in the lawsuit, and he states, “As we note in the Complaint, Mr. Jones has worked with some of the biggest names in the record industry, and has worked on many of their biggest hits, so this is not something he wanted to have to do. He therefore attempted to resolve this repeatedly short of litigation, but was left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect his rights.”
Brown has not commented publicly on the litigation, and his team did not respond to Billboard’s requests for comment.