Dann alleges that ZHU breached an agreement that would've paid the former commission for life.
Grammy Award-nominated electronic music producer ZHU has been sued by longtime collaborator and Mind of a Genius founder David Dann.
According to a report by Pitchfork, who reviewed the legal filing, Dann is seeking at least $3.45 million in damages after his attorneys claimed that ZHU breached written and oral agreements. The suit, which was filed in July 2020, is scheduled for litigation in court on February 25th, 2021.
The crux of the complaint stems from ZHU's breakthrough song "Faded." In the suit, Dann claims that he and ZHU met back in 2013, when ZHU showed him "a melody for what would later become the topline" for the track, which went on to garner a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2015. Dann asserts that he then worked with ZHU to complete the track.
After he quit his own career to work with ZHU, Dann says he brought on Jake Udell's TH3RD BRAIN management company in 2013 to help cultivate ZHU's blossoming career. According to the suit, Dann claims that ZHU executed an agreement with Udell that would pay the talent manager "20% of all music-related income ZHU earned" with commission being "owed 'in perpetuity.'" Dann, who is also a music producer, claims that he and ZHU entered into an agreement that would remit him a 10% cut, but since the terms of his contract were similar to that of Udell's, he believes he is also entitled to commission for life.
"David shared a great deal of positive history with Steven, and was instrumental to the inception of ZHU," said John Vafa, Dann’s attorney. "It is unfortunate that the relationship reached litigation. Artists are obviously entitled to their share, as are the teams and individuals behind their success. David hopes to resolve this matter amicably and wishes nothing but the best for Steven."
ZHU's legal team formally responded to Dann's lawsuit in September 2020. "Dann’s lawsuit is factually and legally frivolous," said Matt Rosengart, ZHU's attorney, in q statement provided to Pitchfork. "His counsel has been placed on notice that their suit subjects them to monetary sanctions, as well as a separate lawsuit for malicious prosecution once their ill-advised, desperate, and fabricated claims are dismissed and my client is vindicated. In the interim, we have filed a motion to dismiss based on the suit’s complete lack of merit, and we will shortly be filing a cross-complaint against Dann for monetary relief and disgorgement."