PWR BTTM’s music returning to streaming services and stores
After Ben Hopkins of PWR BTTM was accused of sexual assault, the band were dropped by both of their labels (Polyvinyl and Father/Daughter) and their music was removed from stores, digital retailers, and streaming services. The band are now making their debut album Ugly Cherries available on streaming services and in stores once again. This year's Pageant is still unavailable. A press release was sent out today, which reads:
PWR BTTM's LP 'Ugly Cherries' will be made available digitally as of Tuesday, June 13. This LP, originally released by Father/Daughter Records, and the May 2017 release 'Pageant' were pulled from stores and streaming services last month when the band's current and past record labels dropped them as a result of an anonymous allegation of sexual misconduct.
This allegation followed rumors that began to circulate two days before the planned release of PWR BTTM's breakthrough album 'Pageant', which had garnered early acclaim from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, The FADER, and NPR Music and had been named one of the "most anticipated albums of 2017" by The A.V. Club, Stereogum, and more. The band released a statement contesting the claims. Still, the band's 36-city tour remained canceled and their music remained unavailable on virtually every digital platform.
Veteran label exec and music manager Lisa Barbaris is currently working with PWR BTTM. Barbaris was Director of Press and Artist Relations for Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records before opening So What Management in 1994 and becoming manager for Cyndi Lauper, working with her on numerous tours and recordings plus her debut as a Broadway composer with 'Kinky Boots.' As a fan of PWR BTTM's music, Barbaris was appalled at the response of the band's labels in withdrawing music and support so hastily.
Attorney Jeffrey Koenig of Serling Rooks Hunter McKoy & Worob LLP has been working with PWR BTTM and Barbaris to reclaim the band's music following the label's unprecedented move. As of now, Polyvinyl has not presented any viable plan to the band to make the music on 'Pageant' available to their fans.
Billboard also spoke with Barbaris and Koenig:
New manager Barbaris, a major label vet who was director of press and artist relations for Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records before opening So What Management in 1994, said she was not familiar with PWR BTTM or Polyvinyl prior to learning of the band's predicament. "But to see Polyvinyl derail and potentially destroy the band's career in such an impulsive manner is very troubling," Barbaris said in a statement provided to Billboard. "I've never seen a label respond in such an irresponsible way in the 30-plus years I've been in the music business."
So far, however, Polyvinyl and the band's camp have not been able to reach a viable agreement that would make Pageant available again. According to Koenig, the band's lawyer, the Champaign-Urbana, Ill.-based label wants to be reimbursed for the unrecouped advance it gave PWR BTTM to record the album before it will transfer distribution rights to the group. "PWR BTTM put a tremendous amount of time, effort, love and resources into creating and recording the body of work that would eventually become Pageant," Koenig said in a statement provided to Billboard. "It is important that their former label allows their fans to hear this album."
A source close to the band tells Billboard that Hopkins and Bruce don't want to sue but do believe that the label has done harm to their reputation and livelihood.