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Coldplay Sued By Former Manager For $12 Million – Billboard

Written by on 06/09/2023

Coldplay’s former manager, Dave Holmes, is suing the band for more than £10 million ($12 million) in damages and outstanding payments, according to documents filed in the London High Court.  

Holmes managed Coldplay for more than two decades, helping the British group become one of the world’s biggest rock acts prior to being dismissed by them in late 2022.  

In legal papers filed in the U.K. courts, which have been viewed by Billboard, attorneys for Holmes say he is suing the four members of Coldplay — Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin — for more than £10 million ($12 million) over the defendants’ “failure and refusal to comply” with the terms of their management contract. News of the lawsuit was first reported by Variety last month.

The dispute centers around a proposed contract agreement that Holmes says the band entered into with his California-based management company, DHMC, relating to Coldplay’s yet-to-be-released tenth and eleventh studio albums and related tours, which the former manager claims he is due unpaid commission on.

According to the lawsuit, filed Aug. 11 in the U.K. Business and Property Courts, Coldplay received an advance of £35 million ($44 million) for its tenth album from Warner Music Group-owned Parlophone Records. Holmes says he also negotiated advances of £15 million ($19 million) each for the group’s subsequent two studio albums as part of the extension of Coldplay’s recording contract with Parlophone, signed in June 2021. 

One month later, Holmes was paid £1.5 million ($1.9 million) by the band, representing his 10% commission fee from the initial £15 million advance payment Coldplay received from the label for its tenth album. Holmes was paid a further £1.5 million ($1.9 million) in October 2021 but says the band still owes him outstanding commission from the record company advances.

In addition, Holmes claims he is due payment for “extensive services” his company carried out relating to the prospective albums and touring schedules prior to his termination as manager.  

These services allegedly include scheduling, marketing, budgeting, sponsorship and ticket pricing for the U.S., Asia and Australia legs of the 2022/23 “Music of the Spheres” world tour, as well as work on the band’s next two releases, such as arranging writing and recording sessions in Jamaica and London and preparing promotional campaigns.  

Listed among the services Holmes says he and his team carried out for Coldplay’s as-yet-unscheduled tenth album are budgeting and marketing activities, clearing an instrumental sample from musician Hal Walker, arranging a recording session on a film set in Boston, and liaising with producer Max Martin’s manager to arrange recording and production sessions.   

Holmes also claims that preparatory work was carried out around possible touring scenarios in 2024/25, including meeting with promoters.

According to legal papers filed by Holmes’ attorneys, Coldplay argues that a contract agreement for the band’s tenth and eleventh albums was never concluded and that commission deals between Holmes and the group for any of its previous nine albums, including the group’s first two releases, expired at the end of last year.

Although the cause of the fallout between Holmes and Coldplay is not detailed in the lawsuit, court documents do reveal that Coldplay asked Holmes to step down from managing the band in June last year and instead become head of touring, whereby he would receive commission on touring and live performance revenue but forgo payment on recording or publishing revenue.  

According to the lawsuit, in September, Coldplay’s solicitors wrote to Holmes to inform him that the head of touring proposal was no longer on offer and his involvement with the band was to officially end Dec. 31, 2022. Since then, the band has been managed by long-term associates Phil Harvey, Mandi Frost and Arlene Moon.      

Holmes is now asking the U.K. courts to determine if the so-called “Albums 10/11 Agreement” stands and for Coldplay to pay him any outstanding commission, as per its terms. Alternatively, his attorneys are asking that Holmes receive “reasonable remuneration in respect” of the services he carried out for the multi-million-selling British band. 

“Dave Holmes successfully managed Coldplay for more than 22 years, steering them to be one of the most successful bands in music history. Now, as the legal case shows, Coldplay is refusing to honor Dave’s management contract and pay him what he is owed,” says Holmes’ lawyer, Phil Sherrell, in a statement provided to Billboard.

Representatives for Coldplay confirmed with Billboard that Holmes’ management contract with the four-piece expired at the end of 2022 “at which point they decided not to start a new one. The matter is now in the hands of Coldplay’s lawyers and the claims are being vigorously disputed.” 

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