Pop Singer Dev Sues To Void 'Onerous' Record Contract

Dev The Roxy Theater Los Angeles Fans - P 2012
Chris Godley

Dev The Roxy Theater Los Angeles Fans - P 2012

Devin Star Tailes, popularly known as Dev, is trying to get out of contracts that purportedly give her record label Indie-Pop, as well as her former manager and attorney, 75 percent of her income and allow them to deduct expenses "off the top" of her share.

The singer-songwriter filed a lawsuit on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that the contracts violate California's "Seven Year Rule," which prohibits personal services contracts for longer than seven years.

Tailes went platinum this year with the single "In the Dark." She is about to be profiled in Rolling Stone's "Women Who Rock" issue, possibly as the magazine's "Next Big Thing" if the publication's voting readers agree.

The singer contends that the agreement she signed in 2008 at the age of 18 was an "onerous, one-sided agreement" that should be "null and void," according to a copy of the complaint obtained by THR. The deal has been amended since then, but apparently not to Tailes' satisfaction. She's now suing Indie-Pop LLC, attorney Joshua Andriano and managers Benjamin Willis and Carlo Fox.

VIDEO: Madonna Faces Lawsuit From Right Wing Party Leader After Paris Concert

Tailes says she signed the deal after she was told the defendants would serve as her manager and "look after her best interests." She adds that she had little time to review the contract because she was told that she "could lose out on important opportunities if she did not the sign the document right away," and that she was "showered" with "flattery and praise" and that the defendants "manipulated her into believing that she could trust them fully."

Besides allegedly violating the "Seven Year Rule," the contract is alleged to be defective in other ways.

Tailes says that when she agreed to fork over 75 percent of her publishing income, worldwide copyrights, merchandising rights and touring income -- "in perpetuity" -- she was not provided with independent legal counsel to review the agreement. She says that the defendants have breached fiduciary duty and have participated in constructive fraud.

STORY: Lady Gaga, Universal Music Unit Are Targets of Lawsuit by Bratz Dolls Maker MGA

Although the percentage of what she's handed over in royalties seems pretty hefty, it's not unusual for record labels to make so-called "360 deals" with new artists as an alternative to the traditional recording contract. As record sales decline, many labels have sought to gain a bigger share of the ancillary income of a recording artist, supposedly treating the relationship as a business partnership that entitles the musician to the promotional might of the label. Things don't always work out.

Indie-Pop couldn't immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit. The company was founded in 2007 by Andriano and Willis.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner