Singer-songwriter H.E.R. is suing her label for release, citing a California statute limiting contract term length.
Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, known professionally as H.E.R., has filed a lawsuit for declaratory relief and violation of the business and professions code. She is seeking to be released from her contract with MBK Entertainment. MBK is owned by her manager Jeff Robinson, who signed the songwriter in 2011 at 14 years old.
All of the songwriter’s releases under the name H.E.R. have been released through MBK and distributed by Sony Music’s RCA Records. According to documents reviewed by The Blast, H.E.R. is named as an ‘exclusive employee’ for an initial period which “ended the later of 15 months after May 19, 2011 or 12 months after the commercial release of Wilson’s first album under contract, and up to five additional option period of more than one year each.”
Ms. Wilson also says that Jeff Robinson became her manager after she signed the contract. In the negotiation, she claims that Robinson fired the law firm that first represented her. She also alleges that Robinson used his own lawyers to represent her in the negotiation of subsequent contracts, including publishing and touring agreements. She alleges those lawyers 5% of the deals, but did not have a written fee agreement with her.
She also alleges that MBK significantly limited her employment rights and that she has “not been free to provide her recording services except as permitted or dictated by MBK.” She also alleges that MBK has “exclusively owned the right to exploit her name and likeness for her recordings.” H.E.R. says the current terms of her contract forces her to work “beyond seven years after her signing date, May 19, 2011.”
“Wilson’s seven years have run. MBK’s attempts to thwart this important and fundamental California public policy should not be condoned,” the lawsuit filed in a California Superior Court reads. H.E.R. is seeking a judicial declaration that the agreement is voidable and may not be enforced against Plaintiff under California law to the extent it purports to require Plaintiff’s services after May 19, 2019.”