Before Phillip Phillips was crowned the winner of American Idol Season 11, he signed a series of contracts with 19 Entertainment. According to the Hollywood Reporter, those contracts covered his management, merchandising, recording, and publishing. For Phillips’ endorsements, 19 Entertainment receives as much as a 40 percent cut. He has done free appearances for Idol sponsors. Phillips says 19 has also withheld information about his career, including the name of his second album, which he did not learn until it was publicly announced.
In legal documents filed January 22 with the California Labor Commissioner, Phillips claims he repeatedly tried to renegotiate his contracts but his management company and his label — both 19 Entertainment — frustrated any attempt to do so.
“Because 19 Recordings, Inc. is also Petitioner’s record company, 19, as Petitioner’s management company, failed to secure even a single improvement to the terms of the Recording Agreement, in breach of Respondent’s fiduciary obligations to Petitioner.”
Phillips is suing to get out of the contracts that he says have hurt his freedom to pursue the career he wants. In a statement, he expressed his reasons for taking legal action.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities provided to me through appearing on ‘American Idol.’ The value that the fans and the show have given to my career is not lost on me. However, I have not felt that I have been free to conduct my career in a way that I am comfortable with. I look forward to being able to make my own choices about my career and to being able to make great music and play it for my fans.”
Phillips claims that some of his forced gigs were not in his best interest, such as a free show for Idol sponsor JetBlue. He also says he was lied to about the royalty rates paid to his producers.
The legal filing claims 19 owes Phillips, as his representative, a fiduciary duty to act in his best interest. On one occasion, Phillips performed a gig that 19 claimed fell under the Merchandise Agreement, netting the company a 40 percent cut. Had the gig fell under the Management Agreement, it would have only been subject to a 20 percent fee.
The claim also says 19 Entertainment “procured” appearances for Phillips despite the fact that 19 is not licensed as a talent agent. Phillips’ legal filing says this is a violation of California’s Talent Agencies Act.
A representative for 19 told TMZ it stood behind its actions regarding Phillips.
“We have always acted in the best interest of Phillip. We will vigorously defend ourselves from any baseless claims to the contrary and from any attempt to interfere with our rights and relationships.”
Over the holidays, Phillip Phillips announced his engagement to his long-time girlfriend.