Backstreet Boys Take on Jive

Group files a $75 million suit against label's parent company

November 27, 2002 12:00 AM ET

The Backstreet Boys have filed a $75 million lawsuit against Zomba Recording Corporation, the company that operates their label Jive Records, also home to 'N Sync and Britney Spears.

The suit, filed on November 25th in U.S. District Court the Southern District of New York, alleges that Zomba held up the release of the band's fourth album, which was due to the label on April 30, 2002. Upon delivery, the label was to pay the band a $5 million advance. The band also claims that, as a result of not having a new album to promote, they were unable to tour and thus lost millions in revenue.

According to the Backstreet Boys' suit, the label used contractual loopholes to prevent the band from making the April due date and collecting the advance for what would have been the follow-up to 2000's Black and Blue. Under a stipulation in the Backstreet Boys' contract, the label has to approve the songs recorded and the producers used before the group can turn in an album. The Backstreet Boys maintain that Zomba refused to participate in the decision-making process surrounding the album, causing the delay.

An additional stipulation stated that all five members of the Backstreet Boys must be involved in the recording of the album for the band to receive the advance. The Backstreet Boys maintain that Zomba used that clause as a loophole, engaging BSB member Nick Carter in the work and promotion for a solo album, preventing him from working with the Backstreet Boys. The BSBs further charged that by demanding that Nick Carter's solo release, Now or Never, take precedence over the BSB album, the label prevented Carter from fulfilling his own contractual obligation to the band, which takes precedence over any other projects. The band also charges Zomba with using the Backstreet Boys' name to promote the Nick Carter album, citing the advertisements posted on www.backstreetboys.com.

"We are committed to the Backstreet Boys, and we will protect our group from anybody or anything that tries to break us apart," the band said in a joint statement. "We are disappointed that our longtime label Jive Records has attempted to irresponsibly exploit our group. The five of us are writing for our new CD and setting concert dates for our upcoming worldwide summer tour."

Calls to Zomba Entertainment Group's attorney had not been answered by press time.

In related news, Bertelsmann Entertainment Group announced today that its BMG music division has purchased Zomba. The $2.74 billion deal now links Zomba to Arista, J Records and RCA.

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