The Legal Beat: Lil Wayne Sued By Manager for $20 Million

On December 10, 2020, Lil Wayne’s former personal manager, Ronald E. Sweeny, sued him for allegedly failing to pay him his commission with regard to a number of matters. Sweeny contends Wayne orally agreed to pay him 10% from two lawsuit settlements and the sale of “any master recordings owned by Young Money [record] label.”

Sweeny contends that in 2005, Lil Wayne hired him as his personal manager. Sweeny alleges he was actually Lil Wayne’s co-manager along with Cortez Bryant, who did the more routine management duties. The Young Money record label was established by Lil Wayne in 2005.

Sweeny states he was able to get Lil Wayne released from a terrible contract with Cash Money Records which was the record label Wayne was signed to for many years. Sweeny claims he negotiated a new recording deal with Cash Money as well as the return of music publishing, merchandising and touring rights.

Sweeny further alleges that in 2013, Cash Money did not have the money to pay him or Young Money, and Lil Wayne was advised to sue Cash Money over money it owed Young Money with regard to revenue from Drake and Nicki Minaj records.  Sweeny contends that even though he was not being paid at the time by Lil Wayne, he agreed to continue to co-manage him. They agreed that Sweeny “would receive 10 percent of the settlement proceeds from the litigation, in perpetuity, as well as 10 percent of all proceeds from the sale of any master recordings owned by Young Money Label (‘’Young Money Masters”) (in addition to the 10 percent of other earnings that Plaintiffs [Ronald Sweeny and his Avant Garde Management company] were supposed to receive at that point), in exchange for Plaintiffs’ continued management of him [Lil Wayne].”

Sweeny contends he only received three payments from Young Money and “minimal payments from Lil Wayne.”

Sweeny also claims that Lil Wayne has failed to pay him on some other matters. In June 2020, Wayne allegedly sold Young Money’s masters to Universal Music Group for over 100 million dollars. The lawsuit states:

“Plaintiffs are informed and       believe…that, subsequent to [Sweeney’s] termination  [as Wayne’s manager], specifically in or about June of 2020, Lil Wayne was able to sell the Young Money Masters to Universal Music Group for in excess of $100 Million.”

Sweeny also alleges he has not been paid his commission on another lawsuit filed by Wayne against Universal Music Group and Sound Exchange for alleged royalties owed to him.

One interesting point is that Sweeney is an attorney.  How come he did not enter into an agreement with Lil Wayne in writing to confirm his right to these commissions? Usually oral management agreements are enforceable, but it is obviously easier to prove a written agreement. The point of getting a written contract is to memorialize the terms of an agreement. In addition, a written contract can prevent honest misunderstandings and forces the parties to come to terms on all deal points.

GLENN LITWAK is a veteran entertainment attorney based in Santa Monica, CA. He has represented platinum selling recording artists, Grammy winning music producers, hit songwriters, management and production companies, music publishers and independent record labels.  Glenn is also a frequent speaker at music industry conferences around the country, such as South by Southwest and the Billboard Music in Film and TV Conference.  Email Litwak at [email protected] or visit glennlitwak.com.