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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Prince Sued Over Free Judith Hill Album Drop

(CN) - Just two days after onetime "Voice" contestant Judith Hill sued her, a music producer is accusing Prince of poaching that client.

Jolene Holdings dba The Cherry Party filed her complaint against Prince aka Prince Rogers Nelson on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The seven-page action says Prince gave away Hill's debut album for free as a digital download earlier this week, cutting out "the people who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop her career and album."

Hill painted her relationship with Jolene Cherry differently in a lawsuit she filed Wednesday against the producer in Manhattan.

Both agree that Hill signed with Cherry while the recording executive had a joint venture with Sony Music in 2013.

But Hill said Sony quickly severed ties with the "incompetent" Cherry, and that Cherry disappeared after telling Hill's manager in August 2014: "you can take all your tracks and go pending whatever outcome is the final one here."

Cherry makes no mention of any "leave of absence" in her complaint, noting only that she and Sony "mutually agreed to restructure their relationship," with Cherry taking over Hill's contract.

Hill began trying to get out of her contract with Cherry in recent months as rumors began to swirl that she was meeting with Prince, according to Cherry's complaint.

Cherry says she refused to let Hill out of the contract, but that "Hill and Prince boldly and inexplicably ignored these warnings."

"Indeed, not only did Hill and Prince finish an album of eleven songs, but they also played that music for a group of reporters and then proceeded to release it on the Internet as a free digital download," Cherry's complaint states.

Cherry says she is "sitting dumbfounded on the sidelines while Prince gives away [her] investment for free.

With Hill's first album, "Back in Time," now out, Cherry said it is "economically unfeasible" for her to release the songs that Hill recorded for The Cherry Party, namely, "Cry," "Angel in the Dark," "Beautiful Life," "Cure," and "Jammin the Basement."

"Though Prince may think that rules and laws do not apply to him, he is mistaken and must be held accountable for poaching one of The Cherry Party's artists," the complaint states.

Cherry says Prince release Hill's album on March 23 "through a variety of online channels," one day after hosting "members of the media at his Paisley Park studio for the purpose of listening to music he produced for Hill."

"Reporters who attended the session stated that Prince sought their advice about how to best get Hill's music to the public, and that Hill gave a live concert for approximately fifty fans."

Ticketmaster and Live Nation helped Prince blast Hill's record by emailing all of their subscribers, according to the complaint.

Cherry says both Live Nation and Hill allegedly Tweeted about the album as well.

"The Internet has been flooded with articles labeling Prince as Hill's producer and the album 'Back in Time' as 'his project,'" the complaint states.

Meanwhile songwriters who had co-written songs with Hill at Cherry Party's behest are now "inundating The Cherry Party with complaints and cease and desist communications," Cherry says.

Cherry disputes that she authorized Prince's release of their work for free and without notice, saying she "is as much a victim of Prince's malicious conduct as they are."

The complaint seeks punitive damages for intentional interference with contractual relations.

Cherry is represented by Stanton Stein with Liner LLP.

Hill's lawsuit against Cherry in New York made no mention of the album with Prince but did say that her brief relationship with Cherry amounted to four singles of winter-holiday songs.

The deal went sour, Hill says, because Cherry's "inaction, unresponsiveness and missed opportunities became the status quo."

Hill's complaint focused on blaming Cherry for a story she says the manager planted about a supposed "love song" for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

"No artist can be expected to perform for a label which intentionally smears its own artist's reputation and violates, without remorse, the artist's core believes," Hill's complaint alleges.

Hill made it to the top eight in the fourth season of "The Voice." She won a Grammy for her work in the documentary "20 Feet From Stardom," a flick about backup singers.

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