MOAG Label Founder Sues ZHU For $3.5 Million Over Alleged Contract Breach

The relationship between artist and manager/collaborator should always be founded on mutual growth and positivity, but obviously, contracts are (almost) always a factor in the relationship. ZHU signed with Mind of a Genius, founded by David Dann, in 2013 leading up to the release of his debut hit single, “Faded.” Dann is now suing ZHU, real name Steven Zhu, for at least $3.45 million in damages for alleged breached written and oral contracts, as well as promissory fraud.

“David shared a great deal of positive history with Steven, and was instrumental to the inception of ZHU,” John Vafa, Dann’s attorney, said in a statement to Pitchfork. “It is unfortunate that the relationship reached litigation. Artists are obviously entitled to their share, as are the teams and individuals behind their success. David hopes to resolve this matter amicably and wishes nothing but the best for Steven.”

The basis of the lawsuit deals with commission from a contract that Dann signed with ZHU in October 23. Dann says “that he entered into a Producer Agreement with Zhu that would give Dann a 10% commission.” At the same time, ZHU also entered into a management agreement with Jake Udell at TH3RD BRAIN, who would be paid “20% of all music-related income Zhu earned,” and that the commission would be “owed ‘in perpetuity.’”

Dann claims that the terms of his agreement mirrored the terms of Udell’s, meaning he, too, would get commission in perpetuity.

ZHU’s legal team have already been quick to file an objection to the lawsuit, originally filed in July 2020.

In documents filed in September 2020, Zhu and his lawyers argue that Dann’s case has no merit. “Dann’s lawsuit is factually and legally frivolous,” Matt Rosengart, Zhu’s attorney, told Pitchfork. “His counsel has been placed on notice that their suit subjects them to monetary sanctions, as well as a separate lawsuit for malicious prosecution once their ill-advised, desperate, and fabricated claims are dismissed and my client is vindicated. In the interim, we have filed a motion to dismiss based on the suit’s complete lack of merit, and we will shortly be filing a cross-complaint against Dann for monetary relief and disgorgement.”

The objection states that the Management and Producer contracts that ZHU entered into are “materially different” and that the “Management Agreement ‘does not provide Dann any relevant contractual rights.’”

The case is currently scheduled to be heard in court on February 25, 2021.


via Pitchfork | Photo via Joey Vitalari