Post Malone Reaches Settlement in ‘Circles’ Copyright Lawsuit Just Before Trial

Music

Post Malone has settled a copyright suit from a songwriter who claimed he was denied credit and compensation for his alleged work on 2019’s “Circles.”

Although terms of the settlement deal were not made public, a court filing from U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright obtained by Rolling Stone Tuesday confirmed that Malone and Tyler Armes had “reached a settlement” and would file dismissal documents imminently.

According to several news outlets present at what would’ve been the first day of trial, the settlement was reached as a jury was being selected. Per Billboard, court staffers were seen taking away equipment from the courtroom that was being prepared for the trial, and the judge waved goodbye to the media who had assembled to cover the case.

A rep and attorney for Malone did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

Malone, whose legal name is Austin Richard Post, was being sued alongside Frank Dukes, over claims the two men unfairly cut Armes out of any authorship credit on “Circles” after the trio allegedly collaborated on a rough mix of the song in August 2018. (The lawsuit was filed in April 2020.)

The court previously dismissed Armes’ claim for authorship of the “Circles” recording, leaving only authorship of the composition still at issue. (Malone also made an attempt to dismiss the lawsuit in April 2022 but the judge disagreed.)

Armes originally claimed he wrote the part in “Circles” where the F major chord changes to an F minor chord. He also alleged he suggested the vocals and guitar should have a “large amount of reverb,” and that he was “sitting next to [Post], verbally singing the second half of the melody and cadence out loud, giving Post direction as to exactly which notes to play.”

Last year, Post admitted that Armes had been “present for one early session” of the making of “Circles,” but that Armes never added anything “original,” offering only “an admittedly extremely commonplace guitar chord progression,” known as 1-4-5 or C-F-G, and possibly a non-recorded “fragment” of a guitar melody.

According to Armes, he was offered a five percent cut of the publishing royalties on “Circles” but tried to negotiate a larger share before the offer was revoked.

“It is an age-old story in the music business that when a song earns the type of runaway success that ‘Circles’ has garnered, an individual will come out of the woodwork to falsely claim to take credit for the song, and demand unwarranted and unearned windfall profits from the song,” Post’s lawyers wrote at the time. “This lawsuit arises from such a story.” 

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The suit’s dismissal also comes at a time when songwriters are fighting hard to receive any sort of compensation for their work on some of music’s biggest songs. A cohort of songwriters and advocates spoke to Rolling Stone in early February about the low (and sometimes nonexistent) payments that writers receive for their contributions on major songs.

“Songwriters have been trying to be heard in this conversation forever,” singer-songwriter Tiffany Red told Rolling Stone at the time. “But we’re the least heard. We’re hidden in the back.”

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