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Legal Breakdowns of the hottest Entertainment and Celebrity Drama

TLC v. Pebbles

With the VH1 produced TLC Biopic debuting tonight, fans, old and new, plan on tuning in to either get further insight into the story of the bestselling girl’s group of all time, or to just become familiar with everything they have endured from successes to failures. It is no secret that TLC (T Boz, Left Eye and Chilli) had a tumultuous relationship with their former manager, Perri “Pebbles” Reid. Claims of greed, manipulation, conflicts of interest and ultimate bankruptcy have circled over the group and their former manager for years.

Must Read: Who Is Pebbles?

The specific claims made by the group against Pebbles were that, at a young age, they signed a contract with Pebbles which was extremely one sided. According to interviews past and present, the three ladies signed a management agreement with Peebles which gave her ownership in the name TLC along with an alleged grossly unfair percentage in their earnings. It was also reported that TLC was not provided a copy of their original contract, they utilized the same attorneys and accountants as Pebbles when negotiating their contracts and ultimately had to pay her $3 Million Dollars ($1 Million per TLC letter) in order to obtain ownership of the TLC name.

What Does This Mean?:

A management contract, specifically in the music industry, is generally either a business management contract, personal management contract or a culmination of both. A business manager is responsible for most financial and accounting services of an artist and a personal manager handles day to day matters along with assisting in securing deals, performances, etc.

When a new artist signs a management agreement with someone who has extensive experience in the industry, these agreements are unfortunately most times one sided in favor of the manager. New artist development takes a lot of time, money and contacts which most times come directly from the manager. A manager can provide services for months and years at a time without receiving a return on their investment and/or any form or compensation as it takes time to build a new artist. Many people may not be aware, but most managers spend thousands of dollars in building and supporting a new artist before the artist makes one red cent.

Standard terms negotiated in a management agreement include:

(1) Term/Length of the deal

(2) Territory

(3) Duties and Responsibilities

(4) Expenses/Reimbursement of Expenses

(5) Compensation, etc.

A standard rate of compensation is generally 15 percent, of gross or net receipts from an artists’ performances, advances, etc., but may also vary between 5 percent -20 percent, depending on the artist, manager and lawyer who negotiates.

Additionally, as most managers to new artist are instrumental in building the brand, look, sound and fan base of an artist, they want to, more than anything, protect their investment. This includes negotiating payouts/payments if they are fired but have negotiated deals which will be collected on in the future and also having ownership in the overall brand and goodwill of the artist or group.

As previously mentioned in interviews, the remaining members of TLC claim that they were, in fact, very young when they signed these contracts. They were between the ages of 19-21 and, to be fair, were not adequately represented in their negotiations. There was undoubtedly a conflict of interest with Pebbles attorneys negotiating for both Pebbles and TLC when it came to the management agreement, but it is safe to assume TLC had no money for an attorney of their own. I would like to think the attorneys received an executed waiver to combat claims of conflict of interest, but regardless of if they did or not, these girls were young and probably did not understand what they were signing.

They were young, impressionable and just eager to perform.

How Does This Affect You?:

If you are an artist, it is imperative to understand what you are signing. Do NOT be afraid to ask questions and ruffle some feathers to ensure you are reasonably protected. Most new artists can’t afford attorneys, but that should not be a deterrent. There are numerous attorney volunteer associations that provide free legal services to artists. Just about every state has one, so research its name and requirements to obtain their services.

I can understand Pebbles’ desire to protect her investment. She had been in the industry for a while before managing TLC and, to her credit, she more than likely wanted to ensure she was compensated for everything she felt she had done to assist them. Does this mean one should take advantage of the young and impressionable? Absolutely not! But, if you are 18 or over, you are able to legally enter into contracts which can be upheld. If you have a sincere interest in the arts, you should read up on contracts and the nuances within the industry. You have a right to separate representation and you have a right to understand everything in an agreement before you sign it. If any person is showing trepidation with your questions and/or is using manipulation to coerce you into signing an agreement, it is safe to assume they do not have your best interests at heart and/or are playing off of your ignorance.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates ( She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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