Steve Pavlovic Says Goodbye to Modular After Tame Impala Dispute

When Kevin Parker revealed in his Reddit AMA that his band Tame Impala had not seen the royalties from overseas record sales, Australian fans were up in arms. It was a collective “oh, no you didn’t!” to label Modular, because these are OUR guys.

conanAs a national export they have taken their brand of sweet psychedelia to the world stage, with the kind of success one would like to imagine goes hand in hand with sipping Moet and rolling in piles of record sales dollars. It all seemed so unfair.

In his statement Parker said: “Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia, I had received zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me.”

And now that “high up” person has spoken out. Steve Pavlovic, the founder of Modular records, says the situation “arose out of an unfortunate misunderstanding due to their being different ways of calculating and paying mechanical royalties in the US compared to the process we were used to in the U.K. and Australia. We didn’t realise that the different statutory process in the US required Modular to deduct and pay the artists’ mechanical royalties directly.”

On legal action between BMG Rights Management and Modular, Pavlovic states the dealings between the two entities have been amiable. “Together we established that we needed an audit to work out exactly what we needed to pay. I’ve always offered BMG complete access to our distributors’ records for them to audit and identify exactly what is owed by Modular US.” Legal proceedings have since been dropped, as Pavlovic says they have been able to calculate payments due outside of court. “My share is a fraction of what has been reported in the press,” he states.

Pavlovic is quick to offer an apology to Tame Impala: “I’m sincerely sorry that Kevin became caught in the middle of the Modular and Universal dispute – it’s an outcome I regret terribly,” but also rebukes the statements made: “Kevin has been the recipient of considerable international advances from BMG, Universal and Modular. Now that his international mechanical accounting has been resolved I remain committed to doing whatever I can to move my side of things forward as speedily as possible. I’ve obviously got a lot of regard and respect for Kevin and think he’s one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”

According to the founder dealings became messy when Universal/Interscope took over the release of the Tame Impala album Lonerism in 2013 and the rest of the Tame Impala catalogue in 2014. In regards to Universal he says “I continue to hope for what I have always hoped for: a fair and equitable ‘divorce’.” The statement comes as he continues legal battles with the major label over ownership of the company. The Supreme Court of New South Wales recently ruled in favor of Universal Music Australia in a move that enables the major label to absorb Modular and it’s artists, declaring that Pavlovic was bound by a December 2014 settlement that he claimed had been terminated.

“We are very pleased by the court ruling and look forward to continuing to work with Modular and its artists under the Universal Music Group umbrella,” said George Ash, president, Universal Music Asia Pacific. “The Court’s ruling is in the best interests of artists and supports the label’s leadership transition and ongoing success.”

In a statement that smacks with melancholy Pavlovic says goodbye to the label: “I have no choice but to walk away from a company that I founded 18 years ago and that has had the opportunity and pleasure of developing both the domestic and international careers of artists such as Wolfmother, The Presets, Ladyhawke, The Avalanches, Cut Copy, Bag Raiders, Tame Impala, Sneaky Sound System and most recently Movement. I stand by those achievements – I took the risk and invested my own money to see them reach a broader audience. But at the end of the day that company was me. I created it. You can take me out of Modular but you can’t take the things that made Modular successful out of me.”

As with any label, the success also lies with the artists who create the music, and we hope that after this legal circus, all can be righted for Parker and Tame Impala.
We recently featured the band in our best songs of 2015 so far, and can’t wait for the release of their next album and Splendour show!