Victory Records is a record label that is infamous for lawsuits and has a reputation of hurting bands that sign with them. They have a laundry list of well-known bands that have been to say the least dissatisfied with their contracts with the company. The latest group of musicians to engage in a protracted legal battle with Victory Records was pop-punk band A Day To Remember. In the past Victory Records has battled bands like Thursday, Hawthorne Heights, Streetlight Manifesto, and Taking Back Sunday since at least 2001. In May of 2011 A Day To Remember (ADTR) filed a lawsuit against Victory Records, claiming that the record label owed the band $75,000 in royalties. The discourse in this particular lawsuit also revolves around the disagreement on whether or not ADTR had fulfilled their five album cotract.
During the beginnings of the legal battle the band had completed a new album, entitled Common Courtesy. Seeing as how ADTR had not released new material since 2010 with the album What Separates Me From You, the band was eager to put out their new work. However, Victory Records had other plans. The record label believes that A Day To Remember has not released their allotment of albums through the label and therefore they filed to stop the release of Common Courtesy. It was eventually ruled that preventing the album’s release until a final ruling had decided would cause a delay that would hurt the band financially (and if Victory as well if they won the case), and so A Day To Remember was allowed to release their new album independently. In its first week of release Common Courtesy sold 92, 874 copies.
After years of flimsy support and incidents such as being forced to re-record the band’s first album in two days A Day To Remember clearly no longer needed Victory Records. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon stated that the band always knew that the record label might ending up hurting them in the end, but at the time of their signing they were going through difficult times and desperately wanted a chance to achieve their dream. McKinnon has said that Victory Records head Tony Brummel was frequently dishonest with the band and refused to settle with the band in a timely fashion. What the lawsuit comes down to now is how an album is defined, and Victory’s contract (or “deal memo” as they call it) is extremely vague on what they defined an album as. The new album Common Courtesy even features a song about the situation entitled The Document Speaks For Itself.
If ADTR’s definition of an album is upheld by the judge then they will have fulfilled their contract and be free of Victory Records for good. If Victory’s definition is upheld then A Day To Remember will owe the label two more whole albums, which could amount to roughly five to six years of recording and touring. A final verdict has yet to be reached, but if Victory Records triumphs it could mean many more struggles for ADTR and other bands of their ilk. If ADTR wins however, their victory could secure a better financial and professional future for young bands and artists. This case could set a precedent for preventing record labels’ unfair manipulation and hurting of bands financially and artistically, and as the industry evolves record labels will be forced to change too.
By Matt Isaacs