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Trax Records hit with lawsuit for $1m 'unpaid' royalties

Larry Heard and Robert Owens have filed a lawsuit against the label

Trax Records hit with lawsuit for $1 million in 'unpaid' royalties to artists.

House innovators Larry Heard (AKA Mr Fingers), and Robert Owens, have filed a $1 million against Trax Records for federal copyright infringement, stating that they were exploted and coerced into signing away rights to their music as young musicians.

"This case involves an all-too familiar story of the early days of the music industry," the preliminary statement of the lawsuit said. "Talented, but unrepresented, musicians hungry for their first break were lulled into a business relationship with an unscrupulous record company that made promises it never intended to keep and masqueraded as paternalistic benefactors for those artists – like a wolf in sheep’s clothing." 

"During the decades since Defendants (Trax Records) first began exploiting musical works created by Larry Heard and/or Robert Owens, neither Heard nor Owens was properly compensated for the great value of each’s musical labors. Instead, Defendants enriched themselves and brazenly exploited those musical works for their sole benefit, while encouraging and enabling others to do the same." 

Larry Sherman, co-founder of legendary Chicago house label TRAX Records, died in April this year, aged 70. Sherman’s legacy is a complex one however, with the allegations regarding royalties and contracts, alongside using cheap, poor quality vinyl.

You can read the full lawsuit here.