Unions, Record Labels, Piracy…and The Ashes


It’s the Brits tonight! This reminds me of a few ADR related stories I have to do with the music industry.  This is not related to my blog “Applying Mediator Skills Where There is no Dispute” which included an extensive (mainly Indie) playlist.



The Musicians’ Union
My first foray in to music and ADR related to the Musicians’ Union (MUN) back in the late 1990s.  The MUN required mediation and arbitration services to resolve disputes between them and their members.  We devised mediation to help resolve those disputes where there was a chance of a continued relationship, and arbitration for those cases where any potential relationship had expired and the parties needed a private decision more quickly and cost-effectively than going through the court process.  This scheme brought me my first exposure to a proper real life ‘pop star’ – David Fenton from The Vapors who wrote “Turning Japanese”. I also recall that Dave took me for my first ever tapas when we met for lunch somewhere down Goswell Road (London).




The Record Label
One of my first mediations was at the HQ of a major record label for a commercial dispute between them and one of their suppliers.  I can’t say too much about this for obvious reasons (confidentiality) but I recall this one in particular as I was a bit start struck (I was much younger than I am now!) as I walked down the halls to the mediation rooms. The walls were plastered with pictures of stars old and new and memorabilia that would probably fetch millions at auction houses and charity galas. In fitting with today, there were also life size cardboard cut outs of Brit Award winners of the past.


Again, sorry, I can’t say anything about the parties, but in this particular mediation I assisted another mediator to resolve a dispute between a universally famous band and a record piracy ‘vehicle’ who it was alleged had seriously ripped them off.  Again, I was a bit star struck at this mediation, but the things I remember most were (a) how the mediator got the parties together to break deadlock by watching The Ashes on a huge screen in one of the rooms and (b) how the dispute itself settled relatively quickly but with several parties and lawyers from at least two continents, the actual settlement agreement took about five times longer to draft than it took to reach settlement.



I’ve also been involved in drafting rules for royalty disputes and for disputes between classical singers and their agents.  I have found that the music industry is an ideal industry for ADR, though the music industry itself hasn’t really realised that yet.  Arbitration can be used to settle those contentious royalty claims and keep artists and their agents out of the public eye.  Mediation can settle disputes between artists and their agents, between artists and their band mates or between labels and other commercial parties, and it can help repair relationships and bring people back together, helping artists span the decades and keeping armies of adoring fans happy with new music and new memories.


If the Gallagher brothers want to talk – just drop me a line…

Gregory Hunt
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