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What’s going on with this £10 million lawsuit against Coldplay?

Almost from the very beginning, Coldplay (like their heroes U2) have been a democracy. After a drunken hissy fit by Chris Martin early in the band’s career–he returned and repented for being a prat–royalties and revenues have been equally distributed. There’s also been this all-for-one-one-for all approach within the band’s organization. And they’ve kept things very, very private.

In the process, Coldplay has become one of the most successful acts of the last 50 years. They’ve sold over 100 million records. They’re one of just four British acts to gross more than a billion dollars on the road (a group that includes Elton John, Paul McCartney, and The Rolling Stones). Their Music of the Spheres world tour alone brought in US$618 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing roadtrip of all time (behind Elton John, Ed Sheeran, and U2). Oh, and Coldplay also has the ninth-highest grossing tour, too. Each member is worth beyond £100 million. They’re philanthropists, activists, and smart investors (they’ve got a piece of a toy and electronics company, among others.

And none of this would have happened without a guy named Dave Holmes. Who? Exactly.

The Coldplay organization, like I said is private, very tight and run like a proper corporation. The band is very, very good at business. Holmes signed on as the band’s manager in the era of the Parachutes album in 1999. and helped the group achieve these heights. He and “fifth” member Phil Harvey (the band’s advisor and creative designer, and, as such, a de facto second manager) created an enterprise that ticked every box in any Harvard School of Box study on how to build a multinational corporation.

So why is Dave Holmes now suing Coldplay for £10 million? Well, remember what I said about Coldplay being private?

Holmes and Coldplay parted ways sometime in 2022–fired by the band, apparently–and has since been working on settling some debts and responding to betryal. According to reports, he’s claiming that the band owes him money–a lot of it–for work he did between albums and tours. In fact, he’s claiming that the band refused to pay him.

Coldplay contends that Holmes was hired on a contractual basis which was renegotiated and renewed on a regular basis. Holmes’ last contract, says Coldplay, expired in 2022. “Hah!” says Holmes, “But then they extended it to 2025, a period that is projected to include the band’s tenth and eleventh albums! I’ve been working on them! I’ve also negotiated deals that guarantees them £30 for their next two albums!”

There’s quite a bit of money riding on this. Holmes earned anywhere from 8-13% per album. His cut for the last four album has been 10%. In 2014, Holmes was given 50% of the commission earned by Phil Harvey to cover the period of the Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. That agreement expired in 2021. Holmes may also have a more standard manager’s cut.

At the moment, all of the specifics of the lawsuit are still under wraps, although The Daily Mail has a pretty good rundown.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38410 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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