US musician Adult Mom – real name Stevie Knipe – has accused indie label Tiny Engines of breach of contract, saying that the company has failed to provide royalty statements or payments in a timely manner, and instead used income from her releases to fund records by smaller artists.
In a series of tweets, Knipe explained that – after becoming concerned that their “work was not in safe or responsible hands” – they made moves to gain control of their master recordings. After negotiations proved unfruitful, Knipe filed a breach of contract notice claiming their label agreement to be void. However, Knipe says, despite a 30 day deadline expiring, the label has still not responded to that notice.
Knipe released their first album for Tiny Engines, ‘Momentary Lapse Of Happily’, in 2015, followed by ‘Soft Spots’ in 2017.
“I signed a two LP contract with [Tiny Engines] in 2015”, Knipe writes in a series of tweets. “The contract details that they must supply royalty statements twice a year and subsequent payment. From the year 2015 to May 2018 we had received [no] statements or royalty payments”.
“After asking multiple times for statements over the years”, the tweets go on, “[the label] finally sent one at the pressure and request of my manager. The statement detailed that they had owed us over $7000 (closer to $8k). It took them until December of 2018 to pay out that royalty statement”.
When initially attempting to negotiate a transfer of the album masters, Knipe says that label co-owner Chuck Daley “laughed in my face after I asked for my masters back”.
“He said that I was being ungrateful for everything the label had done for me”, Knipe goes on. “He also said that losing Adult Mom would have a lot of consequences, and that he had his mortgage and children to think about … 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”.
The legal demand to relinquish the masters was subsequently sent, to which, Knipe says, the label has failed to respond.
Knipe goes on to claim: “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. 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”.
A number of other artists have subsequently suggested that they have had similar experiences with Tiny Engine, and Knipe says that “it has been confirmed that there are at least ten other bands on this label that have experienced this or something similar”.
Tiny Engines has not yet commented on Knipe’s accusations.