I had honestly thought that based upon court testimony and my understanding of the industry that Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor had a real bad business arrangement with his former manager John Malm, but that it wasn’t illegal (details of the case here).
I thought Trent’s caveat had been emptored by his own inattentiveness to business detail.
But I was wrong, way wrong. Last Friday, a jury in Manhattan found Malm breached his contract and acted fraudulently, awarding Reznor $2.95 Million, which will rise to over $4 million when interest is added to the total, according to his attorney Zia F. Modabber.
Modabber told AP that when he called Reznor, who is on tour, with the verdict, “He was almost silent at first. It’s still sinking in. It’s been a difficult thing for him in a lot of ways. They were very, very close friends.” (see ’93 interview with Malm here)
Clearly the jury felt that Reznor’s arrangement with Malm, including 20% of his gross rather than the industry standard net, was beyond the pale and said so with its award.
Modabber also said that the lesson musicians should learn from the case is to “maintain some separateness and independence and resist the temptation to hand everything in your life over to one person with no outside scrutiny whatsoever.”
Reznor also just announced that NIN is pulling out of a performance at the MTV Movie Awards because the network objected to his George W. Bush performance backdrop.