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Bieber producer sues over points dispute

By | Published on Monday 11 April 2022

Justin Bieber

Australian producer and sound engineer Chris ‘Tek’ O’Ryan has sued Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun and the company JRC Entertainment over allegations promises were broken regarding producer royalties on a number of Bieber tracks that he helped produce.

According to Billboard, O’Ryan’s lawsuit says that his work on the Bieber tracks was to “polish and finesse” the vocals, a role that is often played down in the music industry because artists are nervous of being accused of requiring studio tricks to fix their singing.

But this work is “indispensable to modern pop music”, the legal filing argues, adding “the level of attention to detail required … cannot be overstated, often involving timing and pitch shifts measured in mere fractions of a millisecond or semitone, with individual words split into dozens of manipulable pieces before being expertly reassembled”.

The dispute relates to an email exchange with Bieber’s management team in 2018 when the producer sought to change his payment terms so that he’d get a royalty right in addition to an upfront fee. That royalty right would be a single ‘point’, so basically one percent of monies generated by the recording.

O’Ryan says that Bieber’s reps initially accepted that proposal, after which he worked on the star’s ‘Justice’ album. But Team Bieber then subsequently back-tracked, arguing that the 2018 agreement didn’t apply to every track he worked on, and instead he would be awarded a point on certain tracks at the management team’s discretion.

Meanwhile, Braun allegedly told O’Ryan that he hadn’t got points on some of the ‘Justice’ tracks because the Bieber team hadn’t initially been aware that the producer had worked on them, and by the time that became apparent too many points had already been distributed to other producers who contributed to the recordings.

On that exchange with Bieber’s manager, the producer’s lawsuit states: “Braun did not deny the terms of the 2018 agreement, but rather admitted he had already allocated Tek’s rightful point to someone else”.

The producer’s lawyers add: “Having now been effectively cast aside by the artist he spent more than a decade helping to build up, Tek has no choice but to turn to the courts to ensure that Bieber’s team lives up to the parties’ bargain and properly credits and compensates him after years of loyal service”.

But a spokesperson for Braun told Billboard that O’Ryan’s lawsuit was “deeply unfortunate” and “inaccurate, misleading and deceitful”, adding: “His false claims take away from the hard work of album producer and lead engineer/mixer Josh Gudwin and his team”.