Post Malone's "Circles" Sparks Legal Battle With Songwriter

Tyler Armes says he co-wrote the song in 2018, but hasn't been given credit or a share of royalties. Meanwhile, the artist claims it's an unwarranted cash grab.
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Post Malone

Post Malone's hit "Circles" has sparked a bicoastal legal battle with a songwriter who claims he co-wrote the song and has been denied credit and compensation.

Tyler Armes on Tuesday sued Austin Post, publicly known as Post Malone, producer Frank Dukes and Universal Music Group.

Armes says in August 2018 he "spent hours in the studio jamming with Post and Dukes and ultimately co-writing the song 'Circles.'" He says he co-wrote the keyboard chords and the guitar melody in the introduction and had "significant input" on the bassline. While the lyrics hadn't been finished, Armes says the instrumentation and vocal melodies they created that night are "note for note" identical to the finished song. 

According to the complaint filed in California federal court, after the song was released and Armes reached out to Dukes, Post offered to give him a 5 percent share of publishing royalties. Armes tried to negotiate a higher share, but claims Post's manager said if he didn't accept that percentage he wouldn't get anything. 

Armes is asking the court for a declaration that he's a co-writer and co-producer of "Circles" and is entitled to credit and prospective and retroactive royalties. 

"It is very disappointing that Post Malone and his team did not provide Tyler Armes with co-writing credit," Armes' attorney Allison Hart of Lavely & Singer said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "A number of witnesses will corroborate that Tyler co-wrote 'Circles.' We expect to be fully vindicated when this matter is decided by the Court.”

UMG declined to comment, but Post on Tuesday also sued Armes.

In a complaint filed in New York federal court, Post's attorney Christine Lepera argues that while Armes was present at that August 2018 recording session, he didn't write any of the music or lyrics that were used in the song — and he wasn't present for any of the subsequent sessions that led to its creation.

"It is an age-old story in the music business that when a song earns the type of runaway success that 'Circles' has garnered, an individual will come out of the woodwork, falsely claim to take credit for the song, and demand unwarranted and unearned windfall profits from the song," states the complaint. 

Post is also asking for a declaration. He wants the court to declare that Armes didn't author any portion of "Circles," doesn't have a valid copyright in the work and isn't entitled to any money from the exploitation of the song.