The annals of contemporary music history are full of examples of small touring acts being subject to management chicanery and figure-fiddling.

A lawsuit filed by Rihanna against her accountants suggests that similarly dodgy practices take place at the macro-level. On Thursday, the pneumatic pop titan took her long-time accountants Berdon LLP to court, accusing them of severe malpractice. Among the accusations were claims that poor bookkeeping and inadequate expenses provision has lost her tens of millions of dollars. Rihanna signed up with the firm in 2005, and claims she has been subject to contract breaches, excessive commission payments and negligence regarding the upkeep of documentation ever since.

The numbers are pretty eyebrow raising. Rihanna’s 2009 ‘Last Girl On Earth’ tour pulled in impressive revenue figures, but ended up making “significant net losses”. Rihanna claims that she was paid only 6% of revenues, whereas Berdon picked up 22% of the tour’s takings. Her legal team claim that Berdon’s practice of taking a percentage of gross tour income leaves artists vulnerable to exploitation and creates a conflict of interest.

Rihanna’s already exercised her legal muscle in the last twelve months: she sued a real estate company for selling her a $6.9m house in 2009 that allegedly wasn’t fit for purpose. Perhaps Giorgio Moroder will be able to sub her a couple of million to get her through the winter.  [via Billboard]



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