Legal and Management

Post Malone & Songwriter File Dueling Lawsuits Over 'Circles' Credit

Post Malone
Adam Degross

Post Malone

Tyler Armes claims he participated in an early songwriting session on the chart-topping hit.

Post Malone is asking a New York Federal judge to declare that a California songwriter has no claim to his hit single "Circles."

The crossover hip-hop star filed a lawsuit Tuesday (April 7) asking a judge to declare that that songwriter Tyler Armes is not a co-author on the song, did not participate in writing it and has no claim to its copyright. Armes claims he participated in an early "Circles" songwriting session and deserves credit for his contribution to the track, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 100 chart dated Nov. 29, 2019.

"It is an age-old story in the music business that when a song earns the type of runaway success that 'Circles' has garnered, and individuals will come out of the woodwork falsely claim to take credit for the song, and demand unwarranted and unearned windfall profits from the song," reads the complaint.

Post Malone, real name Austin Richard Post, filed his lawsuit in New York after Armes filed his own federal lawsuit in California -- also on Tuesday. Armes' filing lists Post, Post's producer Frank Dukes and Universal Music Group as defendants; he is seeking co-writer and co-producer credits, and prospective and retroactive royalties and other money owed with respect to his interest.

Armes' complaint states that on Aug. 8, 2018, after being "repeatedly encouraged by Post's manager Dre London to collaborate, he joined Post and Dukes' Toronto studio. He says Post was excited and told him, "Let's write a tune!" Working from 2-9 a.m. that night, Armes says he played bass while Post played drums and Dukes played guitar and keyboards, and “the collaboration resulted in the song Circles.” He says that "although Post has freely admitted that Armes co-wrote 'Circles' with him and Dukes during the August 2018 session at Dukes' studio, Post and Dukes have refused to credit [him] and as a co-writer and have refused to pay [him] a fair share of the monies derived from the exploitation of 'Circles.'" Armes says he has tried to resolve this dispute amicably to no avail.

Post's complaint tells a much different story. He says he is one of the joint authors of the "Circles" composition along with Adam K. Feeney, known professionally as Frank Dukes, Billy Walsh, Kaan Gunesberk and Louis Bell. Post says that on Aug. 8, 2018, that he and Dukes composed and recorded music at a session at a recording studio and that music later became the "Circles" song. Armes, he says, was present for the session but "he did not write any music or lyrics that were used in the 'Circles' composition during the session or anytime after," according to the complaint.

Post's filing states that he continued to work on the song with three other songwriters -- Walsh, Gunesberk and Bell -- in subsequent sessions. Armes, Post lawsuits states, did not participate in any of the follow up sessions.

"Because Armes did not author any music or lyrics used in the Circles composition at the August 8, 2018 session, and because Armes was not even present for any of the subsequent sessions for the Circles Composition, it is incontrovertible that Armes made no such contribution to the Circles Composition," states Post's lawsuit.

Despite all that, Post says Armes has demanded that the record company cease all distribution and sales of "Circles" and put a freeze on all royalties payable to the authors until this matter is resolved. Post is asking a judge to step in and to resolve the matter and to declare that Armes has no rights to the song.

"It is very disappointing that Post Malone and his team did not provide Tyler Armes with co-writing credit," said Armes' attorney Allison Hart in a statement. "A number of witnesses will corroborate that Tyler co-wrote Circles. We expect to be fully vindicated when this matter is decided by the Court."

UMG declined to comment on the lawsuit.