I want to share with you an upsetting experience I had with a label I’d put my loyalty and trust in for several years, releasing with them most of my catalog even though things were not always working great.
Since Vinyl Digital, in my opinion, concentrated more on growing and expanding than taking care of artists and quality, in November 2020 I decided to terminate all my contracts with them. This included not only vinyl and digital distribution but also publishing rights.
Sadly, due to my ingenuity and lack of experience in the music industry, in 2017 I trusted Vinyl Digital and signed a publishing contract with them that wasn’t really fair to my interests, as this involved letting them exploit all my past and future releases (around 200 tracks at that time), allowing them to collect royalty rights to my music for up to 70 years even after my death and blocking my freedom to work with other publishers. In retrospect, I agree that I could have been more careful.
After a couple of years, I realized how ridiculous this contract was, and tried to get out of it solely based on the agreement details. First of all, this contract was for life, so it didn’t have a termination date, meaning that the only way to cancel it was if any party involved wasn’t doing their job. In fact, Vinyl Digital wasn’t precise with its obligations explicitly stated in the contract. I never got billed, several tracks were not or falsely registered. I warned and reminded them to improve things in a reasonable grace period without success, which allowed me to legally terminate our contract without notice.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy, because the German organization responsible for collecting the performance and reproduction rights, GEMA, still needed written confirmation from the publisher to give me my rights back. I tried my best to achieve a professional and amicable solution with Vinyl Digital but I wasn’t taken seriously. They weren’t supportive and were replying to my emails every time past set deadlines. After several months of arguing, the publisher asked for a payment of 1000 Euros to provide a document that certified the termination of our contract. I wasn’t ready to give up and just pay a fantasy fee. At this point I felt pressured to contact a lawyer to take care of the situation, being aware of the high costs this decision meant.
My lawyer tried to communicate with them without better luck, as even legal deadlines weren’t met by Vinyl Digital. After several legal letters and a lot of money spent without a solution, I decided to take the case to court. In the process, several lies and “conspiracy theories" were told by VinDig, including that I was almost forced and sponsored to finish this contract by “backers” that wanted to now take and exploit the rights to my music. My only guess was that this was done with the sole purpose of unnecessarily extending the process to the point of me giving up, but I wasn’t intimidated by their aggressiveness and kept on fighting for my musical rights.
After a long back-and-forth and two legal instances, in April 2022, the Court confirmed that my termination of the contract was appropriate and legal. It determined that VinDig had to compensate me any royalties they could have received after the termination. Unfortunately, though, they also decided that every part should carry its own legal costs. After the verdict, Vinyl Digital proposed I renounce my right to compensation in exchange for them not appealing. An appellation would have meant extending the stress and would have added additional costs that I wasn’t prepared to carry. I was a full-time artist at the time and our little family savings went on the whole legal process. I agreed to their suggestion since the most important was already won: I’m not affiliated with Vinyl Digital anymore and I’m the owner and responsible for my music.
The whole situation affected me not only financially but also mentally, bringing back traumatic episodes that I’m still managing and taking care of with therapy. I’ve always been creating but after this experience I kind of isolated from the public and the musical scene. Happily enough for me, I count on a supportive wife, family, and good friends that have helped me get through these.
As an artist, I don’t want to rely on people’s generosity, and at the same time, I need your support and help at this moment after spending thousands of euros to regain my rights. Now ’m just ready to get back on track and for that, I need that little push.
Today I’m releasing this 7” vinyl in collaboration with Besser-Samstag. A project that reflects my feelings and perspective during the whole legal process, transforming the feelings of deception and betrayal into a creative and positive journey of compassion and forgiveness...
This is “More in my mind than in my pockets."
Thanks for your time, understanding, and support.
released July 26, 2023
All tracks written and produced by Brous One.
Guitar on A2, A3, B1 and B2 by Greco Murillo.
Bass on A3 by Paula Wünsch, A2 and B1 by Greco Murillo.
Keys on A2 by Hugo Naranjo.
Mastering by Paddy Besser.
Photography by Christopher Ratter.
Layout and design by Stephan Rether / 9z5.de