The Legal Beat: Coldplay Counter-Sues Its Manager

In September of 2023 Coldplay’s former manager, David Holmes, sued the rock group in London’s High Court for breach of contract. Holmes claims the band owes him over $12 million for alleged commissions. Holmes contends the group failed to pay him for work relating to the band’s next three albums.

In October of 2023 Coldplay countersued Holmes, asserting that he owes the band over $17 million for expensive tour equipment that was not usable. The equipment was purchased before the band’s Music of the Spheres concert tour.

By way of background, Holmes began working for the group in 2000 and became their only manager on the 2005-07 tour. He stopped managing the band in August of 2023.

In their countersuit, Coldplay asserts Holmes borrowed $20 million in 2015 from the band’s tour promoter, Live Nation, at an interest rate of 2.72 percent. 

In 2018, Holmes took out a second loan for $10 million. The group claims that Holmes used his job as their manager to finance a property development project in or near Vancouver, Canada. The counterclaim states:

“To the best of our knowledge’’ Mr. Holmes used monies obtained from the loan agreements to fund a property development venture in or around Vancouver, Canada.” The band claims that the Vancouver investment was “profitable.”

Live Nation apparently issued a statement stating that it had “a strong and longstanding relationship with Coldplay” and “any past dealings with their management team were considered an extension of that relationship.” A manager is supposed to act in the best interests of his client, and not use his position to obtain loans that benefit him, and not the client.

The group contends Holmes made various mistakes that cost them millions of dollars. The band states that before the tour started, costs increased dramatically and Holmes “Failed adequately to supervise and  control the tour budget at all times,” which eventually cost the band an additional approximately $21 million.

Coldplay asserts that Holmes had it incur a massive amount of unneeded concert tour expenses, such as $10.9 million on “bespoke stage pylons” and approximately $9.7 million on a “Jet Screen” which could not be used.

Holmes told Rolling Stone magazine: “Coldplay knows they’re in trouble with their defense. Accusing Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand; Coldplay had a contract with Holmes, they are refusing to honor it and they need to pay Holmes what they owe him.”

Managers are supposed to advise and consult with their clients, not make decisions on their own. It will be interesting to see if Coldplay approved the expenses. It is difficult at this juncture to predict who will prevail in this lawsuit.