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Loeb & Loeb Attains Victory for the Parents of an Entertainer Against Recording Company

Loeb & Loeb successfully represented parents Johnny and Kim Walker of entertainer Keelie Walker, who signed a recording agreement when she was a minor and later disaffirmed the agreement.

Around October 2017, the Walkers and their teenage daughter Keelie, who hoped to become a successful singer and songwriter, met with independent record label 2220 Records and its founder Bryan Todd, a multi-platinum producer and songwriter, to discuss a business relationship. The Walkers, Keelie and 2220 later executed an exclusive recording agreement effective as of January 1, 2019, with a term of seven years pursuant to which 2220 would exclusively manage and represent Keelie in exchange for fifty percent of net revenue less “costs” incurred by 2220. 
In addition to the recording agreement, the Walkers signed a document titled “Exclusive Engagement Agreement – Inducement Letter/Parental Guaranty” or also known as the parental guarantee and a document titled “Side Letter to Exclusive Engagement Agreement-w-Keelie Walker” (or the side letter) effective as of January 1, 2019. The side letter specifically referenced the recording agreement and provided that 2220 would share 15% of the profits (“net artist revenues” as defined in the recording agreement) with the Walkers in exchange for the Walkers contributing money towards “major expenses.”

On January 17, 2020, Keelie Walker disaffirmed the recording agreement. On May 6, 2020, 2220 filed suit against the Walkers for breach of contract alleging that as a result of Keelie’s disaffirmance, the Walkers were required to pay for the costs that 2220 spent in connection with Keelie’s music career pursuant to the parental guarantee. Alternatively, if unenforceable, 2220 brought a claim based on quantum meruit and/or unjust enrichment. The Walkers counterclaimed bringing various claims against 2220 and Todd.  
With Loeb’s legal representation, the Walkers primarily argued that the parental guarantee is unenforceable and void as a matter of public policy, as embodied in the Tennessee Protection of Minor Performers Act (TPMPA). The Walkers sought a declaration that the recording agreement and parental guarantee are void and unenforceable because a Tennessee court did not review and approve the contract pursuant to the TPMPA. Further, the Walkers argued that there is no inequity on which 2220 can sustain its unjust enrichment claim.
The Chancery Court for the State of Tennessee Twentieth Judicial District, Davidson County granted summary judgment in favor of the Walkers, holding that the parental guarantee the recording company sought to enforce against the parents was void and unenforceable as a result of the Tennessee Protection of Minor Performers Act.

The Loeb legal team that represented the Walkers in this case was led by Litigation partner Tim Warnock and included associate Keane Barger.