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Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Roc Nation Letting Rita Ora Out, Attorney Says

MANHATTAN (CN) - Though Roc Nation just hit Rita Ora with a lawsuit Friday over four albums the R&B singer purportedly owes it, Ora's attorney said Monday that a deal is at hand.

The legal brouhaha began in December when Ora filed suit in Los Angeles to get out from under a 2008 contract she signed with the Jay Z-owned label Roc Nation.

Though the contract required Ora to produce as many as five albums, she has so far produced only one eponymous studio album, which was released in 2012.

Roc Nation slapped the British singer with a countersuit Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court, noting that the contract gave Roc Nation four additional album options at one year each through May 26, 2013.

The label said it exercised one of those options but never received a second album, despite having sunk $2.3 million in marketing and recording costs into the project.

"Roc Nation has tirelessly promoted Ms. Ora's career," but she "has only delivered one of the promised five albums, and then sought to terminate the contract in December 2015," the nine-page filing states.

Roc Nation filed the complaint electronically Friday night, after business hours, and neither it nor its attorneys at Reed Smith have returned a call seeking comment.

Ora's attorney, Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, meanwhile said in an interview Monday that a deal is at hand to let Ora out of her contract.

"Jay Z has personally and graciously promised Rita complete freedom from Roc Nation, the details of which are now being finalized," King said in a statement. "We believe that Roc Nation's distributor, Sony Music, has required Roc Nation to file this action to preserve whatever rights Sony might have pending resolution."

Ora's lawsuit in Los Angeles characterized her contract was unenforceable under California law.

She said Roc Nation's "revolving door of executives," and an "oppressive recording agreement" left her out to dry, and that she no longer has a relationship with anybody at the recording label.

"Roc Nation has made it clear that if Rita wants a recording career, she's on her own," the lawsuit allegd.

Fans of Ora took to Twitter under the hashtag #FreeRitaOra after the lawsuit came to light.

Saying the 2008 contract could technically keep Ora as an exclusive employee of Roc nation until 2019, the singer claimed that Roc Nation's inattention "hamstrung" distributing partner Sony.

Ora alleged a "political quagmire of dysfunction" between herself, Sony and Roc Nation.

Roc Nation's complaint meanwhile argues that New York City is the contractually required venue for such claims.

California Labor Code renders personal service contracts enforceable for seven years, after which either party can claim and recover damages. The law works both ways, allowing artists to break free of contracts but also allowing recording studios to claims damages due to unproduced albums.

The 25-year-old Ora, who wrote number-one singles "R.I.P." and "How We Do (Party)," broke out in 2010 after she sang on DJ Fresh's "Hot Right Now."

Roc Nation was founded in 2008 by rapper Jay Z, and has had big-name stars Rihanna and Shakira signed to its label.

Roc Nation is represented in court by Jordan Siev at Reed Smith.

Follow @NickRummell
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