Austin prides itself on being the Live Music Capital of
the World. While many musicians travel to Austin with stars in their eyes, the
reality is that it is difficult to earn a living in the music business, either
as an artist or an independent record label. For the past eighteen months
Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta has received an extensive education on what can
go wrong in relationships between record labels and their artists. This
education was on full display in a 46 page opinion he wrote in Walser v.
Antone's Records, et al, Adv. No. 09-1010 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 1/24/11). You
can find the opinion here.
However, Judge Gargotta was not the only one receiving an
education. I represented the debtors and the case was a real eye opener for me.
This is the story of Antone's Records, a tragedy in three acts.
Act I: Watermelon Records
During the 1980s and 1990s, Antone's Records and
Watermelon Records were hometown competitors in the music business. Watermelon
was founded by Heinz Geissler, a German immigrant. Its catalog focused on
Americana music. Antone's Records was founded by nightclub owner Clifford
Antone and focused on blues music. At some point during the 1990s, Dallas
investor and music lover James Heldt acquired a majority stake in Antone's.
Watermelon Records was the first to fall. Watermelon
Records filed for chapter 11 relief in 1998. At the time, many of its artists
were unhappy with the label. After a contentious three year case involving
competing plans and shifting alliances, Watermelon confirmed a plan in which
its assets were sold to Texas Clef Entertainment Group, Inc. Texas Clef was an
affiliate of Antone's Records which was formed to make the acquisition.
Read the entire article at A Texas
Bankruptcy Lawyer's Blog