A judge ruled that Martin Garrix owns the rights to his masters from his Spinnin’ Records catalog, but that his original contracts with Spinnin’ and MusicAllStars Management signed in 2012 and 2013 were valid, ending a four-year legal battle between the DJ and Spinnin’ Records and MusicAllStars Management. The 23-year-old producer now owns the rights to the music masters for his first two albums, 2014’s Gold Skies and 2015’s Break Through the Silence, while the judge said his decision to terminate his deals in July 2015 were valid.
The battle began in 2015 when the then-19-year-old producer broke his contract with Spinnin’ and MusicAllStars Management. Garrix was 17 when he signed the initial deal, bolstered by the success of his breakout single “Animals” (he also signed a co-managing deal with Scooter Braun, who continues to represent Garrix).
The original lawsuit against MAS manager and Spinnin’ Records’ then-director Eelko van Kooten cited “false and misleading information” at the time of signing. (Spinnin’ has since been acquired by Warner Music Group.) It was then that Garrix and his lawyers began seeking the rights to his masters. Parties settled out of court a month later. At the time, Garrix made an official statement as follows:
“Spinnin’ Records has transferred ownership rights of my music back to me, which was the main goal of the summary proceedings. I will grant Spinnin’ Records an exclusive license (for a limited period) for the tracks that were released by Spinnin’ Records until August 2015. The remaining differences of opinion between parties will most probably be subject of further legal proceedings. In the meantime parties will keep trying to resolve this matter amicably.”
A few weeks later, Spinnin’ filed a suit of its own, arguing that the label and MAS Management deserved compensation for losses due to the cancelation of Garrix’ contract, which would have run through July 1, 2017.
“No hard feelings,” said Spinnin’s official statement, “but we do want to be compensated — nothing more, nothing less. That is part of a decent and professional settlement of what was a successful relationship.”
It took an adittional two years for Garrix to see the fruits of his first win. In 2017, he was granted ownership rights to his music, though financial demands continued on both sides. This week, a judge ruled that the original contracts were not signed in error, but that Garrix did have the rights to terminate those deals in 2015 instead of in 2017, with Garrix awarded full rights to his masters catalog as well as the cancelation of his contract as of July 30, 2015. A rep for Spinnin did not return a request for comment.
“With the Court of Appeal’s decision, Martijn received what he wanted in the first place: to be recognized as master owner/ phonogram producer and a confirmation that he did not have to serve out his contracts until 30 July 2017,” Garrix’s current management said in a statement provided to Billboard. “The first is particularly important to him because he hopes that other young artists will realize what their [music] rights are. Already four years ago, Martijn stated that the protection of fellow musicians was an important reason for him to take up this fight, and in that sense, Martijn is pleased with the outcome. The Court of Appeals has ruled that MAS will be compensated for some outstanding items for their work from January 2015 to July 30, 2015 (which is not special) and that Spinnin’ Records will not receive any compensation. MAS and Spinnin’ did thus not gain anything with these cases except that they have incurred enormous costs for themselves and Martijn. If they had agreed back in 2015 with the reasonable requests of Martijn, this could all have been prevented.”
I have full Master ownership of all my music back, the media twisted the statement from the court wrong. Will release a correct translation soon!
— MARTIN GARRIX (@MartinGarrix) December 26, 2019