King of Funk George Clinton is one of over 200 people accusing a Detroit-area businessman of owing them royalties. Clinton and others allege Armen Boladian and his music publishing company, Bridgeport Music, have witheld millions of dollars in royalties. Via WXYZ:
An attorney, who works in the music industry, provided 7 Action News with a list of more than 200 names of artists, or their surviving relatives, who say that in just 2007 alone Boladian should have paid them more than $4.7 million in royalties. Clinton is on that list.
“Have you ever been able to settle with the people who say you owe them money?” Proctor asks Boladian.
“Well, we’ve settled on some things,” he answers. “But we pay our royalties regularly to those who have money coming.”
That statement is at the heart of the issue: Who really knows for certain what Boladian may owe. There are decades of financial records that he has refused to reveal to the people who have asked for royalty reports and other documents. They feel they have the right to know.
When Kid Rock took the half-time stage at Ford Field last Thanksgiving Day, Clinton was there with him wearing a shirt that read “Flashlight 2013.” That is the symbol of Clinton’s decades-long battle with Boladian.
Long after their first release, many of Clintons’ songs took on a new life decades later in the hip-hop music world. Wrappers took beats or “samples” of Clinton’s songs and made new recordings.
“My songs made babies,” says Clinton. “Each one of my songs—Atomic Dog would have three- or four-hundred songs made from it alone.”
Boladian is the subject of several lawsuits. WXYZ and The New York Times are also suing Bridgeport for access to their records.