The saga surrounding Modular Recordings founder Stephen “Pav” Pavlovic has just been given a new twist, with new allegations the royalty sum the music mogul owes Tame Impala totals over $1 million, significantly more than previously thought.
As Tone Deaf previously reported, in a new lawsuit German publishing giant BMG claim Modular was given a “mechanical license” to Tame Impala’s songs in March last year, on the condition the label would pay royalties within 45 days of the end of each quarter.
However, BMG allege this never happened. Furthermore, the publishing giant have accused Pavlovic, Modular, and Modular co-founder Universal Music of ignoring a cease and desist order instructing them to refrain from selling any more of Tame Impala’s material.
According to an initial report by The Australian, BMG is suing Pavlovic, along with the label he founded and its co-owner, in a New York court for unpaid royalties related to Tame Impala’s overseas sales totalling $US450,000 (AUD$588,150).
However, as a new report in The Australian details, another USD$350,000 to USD$400,000 is also in dispute, bringing the maximum amount of unaccounted for royalties to around AUD$1.1 million. It’s just the latest in a long series of allegations made against the label founder.
Following BMG’s allegations, Universal Music claimed the publishing outlet’s agreement was with an organisation owned and operated solely by Pavlovic, “a totally separate US-registered company” not affiliated with Universal or the Modular label.
Law firm Levitt Robinson then issued their own statement on Pavlovic’s behalf, in which they confirmed that “an America-based company owned by Mr Pavlovic” did hold the mechanical licence for Tame Impala’s music until “about” January last year.
However, it was at this point “the distribution — and the liability to pay the mechanical royalties — was assumed by a Universal Music Group entity”.
According to the statement, Mr Pavlovic “accepts that his American company was responsible for the payment of royalties for the period that his company was distributing the Tame Impala works in the USA, but not for the period since Universal Music Group began distributing those works”.
“It is not clear at this stage whether BMG is claiming any unpaid royalties relating to the period in which Mr Pavlovic’s company was distributing Tame Impala records,” the statement continued, before pointing the finger at Universal Music Group for failing to hand over BMG’s money.
Meanwhile, Universal Music Australia claim the industry impresario “wrongfully retain[ed] for his own benefit” money given to him by an unidentified Modular artist as repayment for an advance.
UMA are currently pursuing their own suit against Pavlovic in NSW Supreme Court, the details of which remain unclear. As Tone Deaf reports, alleged emails between solicitors representing Pavlovic and UMA were read out during a hearing yesterday, painting a critical portrait of Mr Pavlovic.
In newly-released documents related to the case, Universal describe Pavlovic as “a person prepared to lie and give a false account of past events in an attempt to advance his interests in the case”. However, Pavlovic has denied Universal’s claims and says the company owes him $32,500 in unpaid annual leave.
The revelations about Pavlovic follow comments made by Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker back in May. During a Reddit AMA, Parker, who pens almost all of Tame Impala’s material, told fans that he had received “zero dollars” from all of Tame Impala’s record sales “outside of Australia”.
“Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia I had received… zero dollars,” he said. “Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money.”