With his lawsuits threatening to outnumber his album releases, Boston leader Tom Scholz has revved up the litigation machine again and is suing his label, Artemis Records, for more than $4 million.
Scholz filed suit in New York on Tuesday, claiming that the band’s first album in eight years, 2002’s Corporate America, failed to take off because the label didn’t promote it properly, despite promises that Boston’s fifth album would be a priority. The suit claims Scholz signed with Danny Goldberg’s Artemis because of Goldberg’s “repeated promises that his label would give the highest priority to promoting [Corporate America]; that Artemis had the capability and willingness to distribute Boston’s albums to maximize sales; and that Artemis would provide ‘hands-on’ attention that other larger labels could not or would not provide.”
Rather than provide those services, Artemis – home to fellow former major-label renegades Steve Earle and Warren Zevon – was more about “smoke and mirrors” than commitment to its artists, Scholz claims, adding that the label fired key radio promotion staffers prior to the album’s release. The suit also alleges that Artemis has failed to properly account for and pay royalties on the album and assigned inexperienced A&R staff to deal with Corporate America.
A spokesperson for Artemis said the company had not yet seen the suit and could not comment.
Though he’s released fewer than half a dozen albums in twenty-five years, Scholz has been prolific in the courts. In 1982, he was sued for $20 million by his former label, CBS/Epic Records, for failing to deliver a follow-up to the band’s second album in a timely fashion. (The band’s first two records have sold more than 20 million copies to date.) Scholz counter-sued and got an injunction lifted that allowed him to record under the Boston name (he was also sued and later settled out of court with three former bandmates over use of the name). He won the suit against CBS in 1990, but lost another case and was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million to former manager Paul Ahern, who claimed he was owed royalties; in 1996, Scholz won an appeal and the case was sent back for re-trial.
Scholz isn’t the first artist to strike out against his label for alleged poor promotion. Prince slagged former Arista boss Clive Davis for the failure of his Rave Un 2 The Joy Fantastic album, and George Michael launched a failed lawsuit against Sony, which he claimed attempted to turn him into a “pop slave.” Last year, Michael Jackson, referred to former Sony chief Tommy Mottola as “the devil,” when complaining about the alleged lack of publicity for his failed comeback album, Invincible.
In October, Scholz raved about Corporate America to Rolling Stone, highlighting the return of original vocalist Brad Delp and the addition of guitarist Anthony Cosmo (son of former Boston guitarist Fran Cosmo) and bassist Kimberely Dahme. “There’s a new flavor to this CD,” Scholz said. “There’s been a fair amount of maturing, and the introduction of Anthony and Kimberley has changed things.” He also admitted to spending more than a year on the album’s title track.