Adult Mom has publicly accused the label Tiny Engines of breach of contract over royalty payments. The band released two albums through Tiny Engines, 2015’s Momentary Lapse Of Happily and 2017’s Soft Spots. The label also issued a demo version of their sophomore album last year.
In a thread of tweets published yesterday, the band’s Stevie Knipe says that they signed a two album contract with them in 2015, and that the contract stipulates they must be provided with royalty statements and payments twice a year.
“From the year 2015-May 2018 we had received 0 statements or royalty payments,” Knipe wrote. “After asking multiple times for statements over the years, they finally sent one at the pressure and request of my manager. The statement detailed that they had owed us over 7,000 dollars (closer to 8k). It took them until December of 2018 to pay out that royalty statement.”
Since then, they have been sporadic and irresponsible with payment schedules and statements. I have had to remind them frequently for payments and statements, and furthermore have had to convince them to do second pressings of our records that were out of stock.
After all of this, I was deeply self conscious and depressed about the security of my records. The contract I signed detailed that Tiny Engines owned my mastered for the rest of my life. Clearly, my work was not in safe or responsible hands.
I decided to work hard to get control and ownership of my masters back. I had hoped that because Tiny Engines has clearly been in the wrong that they would comply easily. They did not.
I spoke directly with the owners, Chuck Daley and Will Miller. I told them that they had breached contract multiple times over and I should have control over my masters. Now, here is where it gets a bit unsettling for me, so I apologize if my emotions shine through
My conversation with chuck was one of the most unprofessional encounters I have ever had in my life. Chuck laughed in my face after I asked for my masters back. He said that there was no way that would happen, but he’d give the email a “look” from my legal team
He proceeded to speak and raise his voice over mine. He said that I was being ungrateful for everything the label had done for me. He also said that losing adult mom would have a lot of consequences, and that he had his mortgage and children to think about
He proceeded to stress that I had no grounds to ask for this unreasonable request. I told him that he was being unprofessional and manipulative by attempting to guilt me by using his home and children. He also stated that it would affect the “smaller bands” on the label.
After that phone call I sent an official breach of contract notice to Tiny Engines. They had 30 days to send us our royalty statement until they would be legally breached. We gave them 31. My lawyer
@H_Cole_Law sent them an official notice that they have breached
Our demands have been simple. Because the contract is breached it is no longer valid, thus all physical and digital ownership must go into my control. Tiny Engines have not responded to my team and continue to ignore our requests, which to me, are incredibly reasonable
The business model of Tiny Engines appears to be this: Use the money that the more successful bands make on funding small releases and signings. Never pay the successful band for as long as humanly possible
The business model of tiny engines: Take advantage of the non men on your label and attempt to manipulate them while stealing the money they make to keep your failing business afloat
The business model of Tiny Engines: project a savior complex while doing absolutely nothing to back it up
I am certain and it has been confirmed that there are at LEAST 10 other bands on this label that have experienced this or something similar. It is an abuse of power. It is an epidemic. It is a diseased label. These artists deserve so much more respect
My final thought: I don’t wish any ill will on this business. But I do wish for them to clean up their shit. I’ve given them way too much of my time and money and patience to be silent.
THREAD: I’ve been really cryptic about what I’ve been going through recently in the industry, but I’m really ready to be transparent now. I promised myself I would be as fair as possible in describing my experiences I’ve had with @tinyengines, so I apologize for the length
— adult mom (@adultmomband) November 9, 2019
Other artists that have also put out music through Tiny Engines have alluded to similar experiences with the label, including Mannequin Pussy, who moved to Epitaph with this year’s Patience after releasing two albums with the label, and Thelma, who self-released their most recent album The Only Thing after putting out their debut with Tiny Engines. The latter posted a thread about their own experience with the label: “I felt bad because I do believe there are nice people involved in the label, but I had similar experience with owner Chuck who literally said that he couldn’t give me my contractual advance because of my medical issues.”
This all sounds very familiar. https://t.co/5gcrrU2NPn
— MANNEQUIN PUSSSY (@mannequinpussy) November 9, 2019
I would have absolutely never had signed over the rights of my first album if I didn’t think I would get an advance for the 2nd album which I was told I would get as long as I put in the effort.
— Thelma (@thelma_lalala) November 9, 2019
The Hotelier’s Christian Holden has also sent out a series of tweets about the situation: “Tiny Engines is two people, Chuck and Will, that duties are distributed between. Chuck is in charge of finances and is, imo, more a mess than a crook,” they write, continuing on: “Adult Mom should be paid, Chuck fucked up and owes them the ability to null their contract and have their masters. AM should be able to expect what they agreed to,” and “To be fully clear, Chuck been irresponsible with finances and owes many of us TE artists a good deal of money.”
Some Tiny Engines thoughts for those following the Adult Mom tread:
1. Tiny Engines is two people, Chuck and Will, that duties are distributed between. Chuck is in charge of finances and is, imo, more a mess than a crook.
— Christian Holden (@moldyfish) November 9, 2019
And a number of musicians who have been on the Tiny Engines roster have expressed support for Knipe, including Long Neck, Cayetana, Emperor X and Peaer.
— Long Neck (@LongNeckLass) November 9, 2019
Jumping back on here to say we 100% support and empathize with adult mom. This is exactly the reason we saved our money and self released new kind of normal. Fuck this shit. https://t.co/aAUj4vnIKj
— Cayetana (@CayetanaPhilly) November 10, 2019
TE’s actions as described here are wrong, and the account of the phonecall is particularly alarming. Artist solidarity is paramount. I stand w/ Stevie, both personally and in principle. (1/many, big ol’ thread) https://t.co/ABErCxIvmY
— €MP€ROR X (@emperorx) November 9, 2019
we’ve had a pretty hands off experience with TE , they always have been kind, but the inconsistency of their reporting has been frustrating and can only lead to distrust on our part – hearing the extent of this situation is deeply unsettling … https://t.co/sIPPbAraIc
— peaer (@peaer_) November 9, 2019
Stereogum has reached out to Tiny Engines for comment and we’ll update if and when they respond.