Social media has brought in millions of dollars for pop singer and heartthrob Jason Derulo, earnings that are at the core of a massive lawsuit against the platinum-selling artist by his former manager.
The “Wiggle” chart-topper and his ex-manager Frank Harris began working together in the late 1990s and formed a formidable team for over 23 years. Positioning him as a sex symbol, his image was crafted to tantalize his predominately female fan base.
The $1 Million Complaint
According to a $1 million complaint, the strategy responsible for Derulo’s success was allegedly devised by Harris, who spent years “engineering [Derulo’s] artistic style, career, and brand,” according to RadarOnline.
In the lawsuit, Harris claims that after the two parted ways in September 2022, Derulo has reneged on a contractual obligation to give him a percentage of all of his revenue, including opportunities that were not directly connected to him. He submits that all of the work was foundational for everything he does even now.
The lawsuit argues, “Harris, among other things, represented Derulo’s business interests, managed and protected his professional reputation, negotiated contracts on his behalf, planned shows and tours, created marketing and branding strategies, promoted Derulo’s music, and assisted Derulo’s artistic development.”
The deal that Harris says the two negotiated as they severed ties afforded Harris a 15 percent cut of all revenues from projects he worked on, even if he wasn’t his manager.
Derulo and his new team have filed a new motion that says that was not the structure of their final agreement and gave context to the complicated nature of their professional relationship.
“For 22 years, Harris earned a commission on every cent Derulo made,” the motion read, noting that the initial management deal expired in 2014.
Harris, under the old deal, received 20 percent of Derulo’s “gross earnings” from any and all “engagements, contracts, and agreements” in the “Entertainment Industry” entered into or substantially negotiated during the five-year term that started in 2009.
According to the singer, after that deal expired, their relationship would automatically terminate, and Derulo agreed to pay Harris tiered residual commissions that decreased over time.”
Derulo, who has an estimated net worth of $16 million, said he consented to remunerate Harris with a 15 percent commission on agreements during the initial year after the expiration of the original deal.
He indicated that this commission was reduced to 10 percent in the second, third, and fourth years following the expiration of the initial agreement. Derulo stated that for the fifth year and each subsequent year after the expiration of the original deal, he agreed to compensate Harris with a 5% commission. After this, the commissions would drop every year.
At the same time, during the pandemic, Derulo shifted his entertainment model because he could not travel and tour— focusing a large portion of his income on social media performances, specifically TikTok. He alleges he made as much as $1 million in one year from the tool. He formed a new business venture to create and distribute this content online.
He currently boasts over 58 million followers on the platform and has seen multiple songs gain popularity on the app, with “Swalla (ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)” alone inspiring over 5.2 million user-created videos.
Derulo, through this new company, helped negotiate his performance at the 2023 NFL TikTok Tailgate at Super Bowl LVII.
The former manager said that he wanted a portion of that income.
Another business that is not music-related that Derulo has tapped into after the pandemic is car maintenance. He has recently invested in the Rocket CarWash, calling it a “very unsexy business.”
He also continues to work on reality competition shows, currently serving as a coach on “The Voice Australia.”
“Harris had no role whatsoever in these endeavors and, without Harris’ involvement, Derulo became hugely successful on TikTok. Yet, Harris was inadvertently paid 20% commissions on Derulo’s social media earnings to the tune of millions of dollars,” Derulo’s lawyer writes.
Adding, “In September 2022, when Derulo advised Harris that he believed Harris was not entitled to a share of this TikTok revenue, Harris was infuriated. Their inability to reach an agreement on this issue ended their relationship.”
The Derulo team believes Harris’ lawsuit should be dismissed and is currently waiting for a judge to respond.
This may be the least of his worries. Derulo is currently entangled in a sex scandal. A woman named Emaza Gibson has come forth claiming that after the artist signed her to a record deal with his company, he later dropped her after she rejected his sexual advances, therefore hindering her career.
The lawsuit claimed he made an “explicit demand for sex-in-exchange-for-success” including telling her that she had to participate in “goat skin and fish scales” for her to succeed in his camp, according to NBC News.
This is a term that involves sex, drugs, and submission to him. Derulo has denied these claims.