This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: A deep-dive into the messy – and litigious – situation inside the iconic 80s rock band Journey; an update on YNW Melly’s death-penalty case at the Florida Supreme Court; a sudden dismissal of a copyright lawsuit against Benny Blanco, Ed Sheeran and others; and much more.
THE BIG STORY: Don’t Stop Litigatin’
If you read one thing this week, make it Steve Knopper’s long Billboard story about the simmering problems inside Journey — an epic tale of internal dysfunction among members of an iconic band that’s still printing money decades after its “Don’t Stop Believing” heyday.
The story has it all: dueling security guards in green rooms; a multi-million-dollar pay-per-view wedding; a trail of fired managers and staffers; and an absolute all-timer quote: “This is Neal. I am fucking your wife.” But above all else, it has lawsuits — ranging from divorce to defamation to intellectual property to assault.
Sure, there’s the current battle between lead guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain over a disputed American Express card. But there’s also the lawsuit filed against Live Nation over an alleged assault on Schon’s wife, a case alleging a “coup” by former bandmates Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory, a trademark dispute with former frontman Steve Perry and much more.
For the full breakdown of the crisis inside Journey, go read the entire story here.
Other top stories this week…
DEATH PENALTY DISPUTE – Prosecutors urged the Florida Supreme Court to reject an appeal by YNW Melly from a ruling last year that said he could face the death penalty if convicted at an upcoming murder trial. The rapper says the state forfeited the right to seek the death penalty by failing to give proper notice, but prosecutors say he “suffered no harm.”
MARILYN MANSON UPDATE – A week after one of Marilyn Manson’s sexual assault accusers recanted her allegations, a judge ruled that the sudden reversal couldn’t be used as evidence in Manson’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-fiance Evan Rachel Wood. The move came after Wood’s lawyers argued the “eleventh hour” revelation was just a “bad-faith” effort to save Manson’s case.
COPYRIGHT CASE CLOSED – Two songwriters who sued Benny Blanco, Halsey, Khalid and Ed Sheeran for copyright infringement over their 2018 hit “Eastside” suddenly dropped the lawsuit. The accusers told Billboard that they decided that continuing the case would have been “too costly, challenging, and risky for us”; but Blanco’s lawyer said the accusations were “baseless” and “never should have been made” in the first place.
PODCAST POT CLASH – Chris “Kit” Gray, the president and co-founder of PodcastOne, was hit with a lawsuit claiming he fired his executive assistant because she refused to ship cannabis products from California (where they’re legal) to his home in Florida (where they aren’t).
TRAVIS SCOTT’S NIGHTCLUB SCUFFLE – Police in New York sought to question rapper Travis Scott after he was accused of assaulting a sound engineer and causing $12,000 worth of damage to sound equipment at Manhattan nightclub Nebula. His reps called it “a misunderstanding being blown out of proportion” and stressed that no charges had been filed. Scott is expected to sit for questioning this week.