Former CMJ Employees Sue For Unpaid Wages

Jerritt Clark/WireImage
The Depreciation Guild performs during SESAC's 2009 CMJ Showcase at Cake Shop on Oct. 23, 2009 in New York City. 

The company's current owner, Adam Klein, allegedly stopped paying them over a year ago.

The sad saga of CMJ, and by extension its enmeshed owner Adam Klein, continues. A suit filed this morning in New York by two former full-time employees of Abaculi Media, Klein's consulting company and CMJ's parent, alleges that Klein stopped paying them in the fall of 2015.

Plaintiffs David Dekeyser, former general manager of CMJ, and Jessica Levy, a former social media manager, allege that on Oct. 15, 2015 -- two days after the last, and possibly final -- CMJ Music Marathon began, they stopped receiving their paychecks from Abaculi, which the suit claims had annual revenues of no less than $500,000. They also claim that they were not paid overtime on workweeks that would often stretch to 60 hours.

When reached, Klein declined to comment.

"It's the simple matter of an employer not paying his people. This is not a complicated thing -- people work, you pay them," the plaintiffs' lawyer, Alex Granovsky, tells Billboard.

The story of CMJ over the past few years has been one of turmoil and confusion, as its ownership shuttled between various groups nearly as often as a music fan would shuttle between venues during its annual flagship music festival. Klein purchased CMJ in June, 2014 after working as a consultant for a UK company interested in acquiring it, and was immediately involved in two lawsuits. One from Jon Scher, who had lent its former owners money to keep the ship afloat, and another that charges Klein with breach of contract.

Abaculi media was also sued for non-payment after renting equipment it used to web stream the 2014 Veracruz Games. Klein, the former CEO of eMusic, was also sued for sexual harassment during his time there, a case that was settled out of court.

During an investigation by Billboard earlier this year of the circuitous recent life of CMJ, none of the many sources contacted considered Klein to be an effective steward of the company, with one characterizing his purchase as "heartbreaking." Klein maintained  to journalists, past the point which it would have been logistically feasible to execute, that the 2016 edition of the Music Marathon would be taking place. It never did.

Update, Dec. 16: Since this article published, Adam Klein declined to comment.


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