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Modular Founder Responds To Allegations He Ripped Off Tame Impala

Written by Emmy Mack on June 4, 2015

Founder of Aussie record label Modular, Stephen ‘Pav’ Pavlovic, has spoken out in response to explosive allegations that he withheld more than $500K worth of royalties from Tame Impala. Or, at least, his lawyers have spoken out for him.

If you need a bit of background, the claims of dodgy dealings first surfaced in a Reddit AMA with frontman Kevin Parker a few weeks back, and have since been fully detailed in legal documents from German entertainment behemoth BMG, who’ve filed a lawsuit against Modular and its co-owner, Universal Music Group, over the unpaid royalties.

Universal then went on to dismiss the lawsuit as “baseless”, and suggested that any issues BMG have, should be taken up with a separate US-based company established by Mr Pavlovic.

Now, Pavlovic’s law firm of choice, Levitt Robinson, has issued a statement in response, pointing the finger of blame back at Universal.

While Pavlovic’s lawyers confirm he did in fact own “an America-based company…responsible for the distribution of Tame Impala records in America”, that responsibibity was only held until until “about” January last year” at which time, he alleges, the distribution — and thus the liability to pay Tame Impala royalties — “was assumed by a Universal Music Group entity”.

Pavlovic’s legal reps say they are seeking further clarification to find out whether the missing money dates back further than that, to the time when Modular was in charge of Tame Impala’s mechanical license.

The letter from Pavlovic’s attorneys reads (via The Music):

An America-based company owned by Mr Pavlovic was responsible for the distribution of Tame Impala records in America until about January 2014, at which point the distribution–and the liability to pay the mechanical royalties– was assumed by a Universal Music Group entity. 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.

BMG have advised Mr Pavlovic that no Tame Impala royalties have been paid at all since the time that Tame Impala sold their mechanical licenses to BMG—including for the period during which Universal Music Group has been distributing the records. Mr Pavlovic has no financial interest in Universal Music Group and does not accept liability for any failure by Universal Music Group or its subsidiaries to make royalty payments to BMG.

Mr. Pavlovic is currently in confidential discussions with BMG in order to resolve the dispute.

However, Pavlovic’s legal eagles have yet to address fresh allegations from Universal Music Australia, who have filed a separate lawsuit against the Modular founder. Universal is alleging that Pavlovic was given money as an advance payment from an unspecified artist on the Modular roster, and wrongfully kept it for himself.

That case will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court from tomorrow, 5th June.

UPDATE 05/16/15: The plot thickens as it has now been reported that Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker may be owed around $1 million in unpaid royalties.

Watch: Tame Impala – Cause I’m A Man

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