Music Article

So-Called Chaos

Madonna sells her record label -- Warner Music buys back Maverick, the imprint she founded 12 years ago, ending a multimillion-dollar legal dispute

Madonna and Warner Music have kissed and made up. Despite an ugly tangle of litigation and bitter accusations, she's agreed to sell her share of her label, Maverick, back to parent Warner, thereby settling the dueling lawsuits surrounding the dispute.

Details of the deal weren't made public, but sources close to the agreement tell the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the New York Post that Warner's share of the label will increase from 40 percent to 75 percent (Madonna partner Guy Oseary will hold onto the remaining 25 percent), and that Madonna will receive $10 million for her stake. That's a far cry from the $200 million Madonna had sought in a lawsuit earlier this year over Maverick, the imprint she founded 12 years ago and turned into one of the most successful of all artist-run labels.

Warner created the Maverick imprint as a perk for Madonna in 1992, and while industry observers initially viewed it as a vanity label, it soon became a success with the likes of Candlebox, Michelle Branch, and especially Alanis Morissette. Last year, Time Warner (also parent company of EW.com) sold Warner Music to a group of private investors. In March, Madonna sought $200 million in damages in a breach-of-contract suit against Warner Music, claiming the company had underpromoted Maverick releases and had engaged in deceptive accounting to make Maverick look like a money loser. A countersuit filed by Warner claimed that the label really did lose money, some $66 million since Maverick's 1999 heyday, and called Madonna's claims a negotiating ploy.

With the settlement, Warner will now get to keep Maverick's artists and their catalogs of hits. As for Madonna, she'll continue to release her own recordings on Warner, the label that's been her home since 1984.

Originally posted Jun 15, 2004