5 Seconds of Summer’s former management company, YM&U Group, is suing the Australian pop-rock band for breach of contract, according to court documents reviewed by Billboard.
Filed in California Superior Court on Dec. 17 by YM&U attorneys Howard King and Stephen Rothschild of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, the complaint alleges that 5SOS – with the encouragement of their current manager, Benjamin Evans – has refused to pay YM&U commissions the firm is owed for multiple lucrative deals it negotiated on behalf of the group, including a $10 million single-album recording contract with BMG and a $1.5 million merchandising extension with Bravado International Group.
Evans is named as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside 5 Seconds of Summer members Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin and Michael Clifford, and 5SOS Touring.
YM&U is seeking $2.5 million in damages, along with an unspecified amount in punitive damages from Evans, whom the firm claims “acted with fraud, malice, or oppression” by helping orchestrate a scheme to get the band out of paying the full amount they owed the company. In summing up the alleged scheme, the complaint claims that “Evans and 5SOS’s other advisors believed that, by refusing to pay plaintiff anything for its months of services, 5SOS could pressure plaintiff to substantially discount what 5SOS owed.”
Evans served as the band’s day-to-day manager prior to their signing with YM&U in Feb. 2021 and is managing them again after they terminated their agreement with YM&U in September.
In laying out the sequence of events, the complaint alleges that on Sept. 27, shortly before the deal with BMG was complete, 5 Seconds of Summer informed YM&U that they would be terminating their management agreement with the company while agreeing to pay all commissions owed. But after sending two separate invoices for $412,500 – totaling $825,000, or 15% of the $5.5 million advance the band were paid by BMG – on Sept. 30 and in late October, 5SOS’ attorney informed YM&U in a Nov. 24 letter that the group would not be paying the company any commissions for their work, which also included managing the writing, recording and production of the group’s forthcoming album and helping plan and negotiate their upcoming world tour.
“The only reason given was 5SOS’s attorney’s frivolous assertion that the timing of 5SOS’s termination of plaintiff somehow entitled 5SOS to refuse to pay plaintiff for the valuable services they had induced plaintiff to provide,” the complaint reads.
Representatives for 5 Seconds of Summer did not respond to Billboard’s requests for comment by press time.
Announced exclusively by Billboard on Oct. 7, 5SOS’ recording agreement with BMG marked the company’s first label signing with a major pop band. The deal came about after 5SOS split with Interscope, which released the group’s most recent studio album, 2020’s CALM. That album reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 but failed to match the success of 5SOS’ prior efforts, including their 2014 self-titled debut, 2015’s Sounds Good Feels Good and 2018’s Youngblood.
Formed in 2011, 5SOS is the only band to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with their first three full-length studio albums and the first Australian act with three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200.