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Everything We Know About Coldplay’s Lawsuit With Former Manager Dave Holmes

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The escalating legal battle between Coldplay and its former manager Dave Holmes significantly stepped up this month when the band filed a counterclaim lawsuit in the U.K. courts seeking £14 million ($17 million) in damages.

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The court filing comes two months after Holmes announced he was suing the four members of Coldplay — Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin — for more than £10 million ($12 million) in damages and unpaid commission relating to the band’s yet-to-be-released 10th and 11th studio albums.

Having examined legal papers filed in the U.K. courts on behalf of both parties, here’s Billboard’s rundown of everything we know so far about the acrimonious dispute between Holmes and his former star clients.

Why Holmes and Coldplay fell out after more than 20 years of success together

Although the precise cause of the fallout between Holmes and Coldplay is not detailed in either lawsuit, legal papers filed by the group’s attorneys on Oct. 5 state that the band made the decision to dismiss the manager last summer following “a period of increasing concern” about his conduct. (Holmes’ position as the group’s manager officially came to an end Dec. 31, 2022).

In particular, the four band members allege that Holmes breached his contractual obligations by “failing” to adequately manage costs for the group’s 2022-2023 Music of the Spheres World Tour leading them to suffer “significant financial losses.”

“Unjustified” touring costs

Examples of financial mismanagement cited in the countersuit include spending 10.5 million euros ($11 million) on the construction of 16 bespoke stage pylons and commissioning the manufacture of a bespoke audio-visual “Jet Screen” at a total cost of $9.7 million that was only used for 10 shows in 2022. Another third-party supplier, listed in legal papers as TAIT, was paid $8.8 million to construct staging for the tour.

Coldplay’s attorneys say that those costs were “disproportionate and unjustified” and, as a result of Holmes’ “failing adequately to supervise and control” the tour budget, the band incurred at least £17.5 million ($21.5 million) in costs “which would otherwise have been avoided.”

That version of events is disputed by sources close to Holmes who deny that the former manager was responsible for tour costs overrunning. Instead, people familiar with the situation tell Billboard that many production decisions relating to the Music of the Spheres were made under the guidance of the band’s long-term creative director Phil Harvey, who has co-managed the band since last summer (following Holmes’ exit) alongside Mandi Frost and Arlene Moon.

Live Nation loans

Coldplay’s lawsuit claims that Holmes breached his fiduciary duties by using his association with the act to borrow a total of $30 million in low interest loans from Live Nation to fund a personal property development venture in Canada. The loans were not fully disclosed to the group and, as such, were secured without its informed consent, claim the four members.

Coldplay’s attorneys argue that these loans – set at a fixed annual interest rate of 2.72% – placed Holmes in a potential conflict of interest when it came to securing the best possible deal for his clients from Live Nation.

At the time when Holmes was negotiating a deal with Live Nation in 2021 and 2022 to exclusively promote Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres tour outside of the United Kingdom, the manager owed the touring giant approximately $27 million, the court filing alleges.

In response, the band is asking the courts to grant it access to Holmes’ financial accounts detailing any profits resulting from the low interest loans and the payment of any monies due to them.

The so-called “Albums 10/11 Agreement”

Holmes’ lawsuit against his former clients’ centers around a proposed contract extension (the so-called “Albums 10/11 Agreement”) that he claims Coldplay entered into in 2021 with his California-based management company, DHMC, relating to its yet-to-be-released tenth and eleventh studio albums.

Attorneys for Holmes claim he is owed outstanding commission from record company advances the manager negotiated on the band’s behalf with its label, Warner Music Group-owned Parlophone Records. Those advances totaled £35 million ($44 million) for Coldplay’s 10th album and £15 million ($19 million) each for the group’s subsequent two studio albums.

In return, Holmes received two payments in 2021 of £1.5 ($1.9 million), each equivalent to a 10% commission fee, state the court documents. However, his attorneys claim he is still due outstanding payment from the remainder of the record company advances paid to Coldplay.

Clearing samples, arranging recording sessions and recruiting Max Martin as producer

Holmes’ lawsuit additionally claims he is due payment for “extensive services” his company carried out for the 10th and 11th albums (and related tours) prior to his termination as manager.

These services include arranging writing and recording sessions in Jamaica and London, clearing an instrumental sample from musician Hal Walker, arranging a recording session on a film set in Boston, and liaising with producer Max Martin’s manager to arrange recording and production sessions.

Holmes says his team also worked on planning promotional campaigns, as well as scheduling, marketing, budgeting, sponsorship and ticket pricing for the United States, Asia and Australia legs of the Music of the Spheres World Tour.

Attorneys for Coldplay’s four founding members dispute their former manager’s claim and say that negotiations between the two parties broke down before “any such agreement might have been signed.”

In its defense and counterclaim filing, the band is seeking repayment of £3 million ($3.7 million) paid to DHMC in 2021 as advances for the band’s 10th album.

What Holmes and Coldplay are saying outside of court

On Coldplay’s part, very little. When Holmes’ lawsuit was filed in August a representative for the band confirmed with Billboard that Holmes’ management contract with the four-piece expired at the end of 2022 “at which point they decided not to start a new one. The matter is now in the hands of Coldplay’s lawyers and the claims are being vigorously disputed.” Representatives of the group declined to comment when contacted by Billboard this week about Coldplay counterclaim lawsuit.

Responding to Coldplay’s legal action, which is dated Oct. 5, a spokesperson for their former manager said, “Accusing Dave Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand: Coldplay had a contract with Dave, they are refusing to honor it and they need to pay Dave what they owe him.”

The matter will now proceed through the U.K. courts unless a settlement can be reached.

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