R&B producer, bonafide singer and songwriter, Ryan Leslie was rising to the top of the music industry a few years ago, releasing a couple solo albums and also producing a number of songs for other artists, including Cassie, for whom he produced an entire album. Back in October of 2010 Ryan Leslie lost his laptop, which he believed to have a plethora of unreleased music saved on it. That was his first mistake. The laptop was stolen from his Mercedes, while he was on tour in Cologne, Germany. In a viral video shortly after the laptop was lost, Ryan offered up $1 million dollars to anyone that returned the laptop, no questions asked. That was his second mistake!
A short time later a man named Armin Augstein returned the laptop to Ryan Leslie. Unfortunately, while Ryan received the laptop, the files on the laptop were not on the laptop. Ryan argued that since the music was not on the laptop he did not have to provide the reward. He was subsequently sued by Armin Augstein who did not agree that he should not be paid.
Ryan took the case to court and to his surprise he lost, in part because the whole world had video evidence of him promising this reward. A jury awarded Augstein $1.18 million dollars in damages. In 2013 Ryan Leslie filled for bankruptcy, hoping to get around his debts, particularly the one owed to Armin.
In 2017 after a long legal battle Ryan Leslie finally agreed to settle the debt by offering up the rights to his music! Ryan had to give away his rights to his entire music catalog for basically as long as it takes to pay off the debt.
Augstein will receive all interests in Leslie’s musical rights and future royalty payments. Augstein will be entitled to receive up to $538,000 from the royalties and if after six years he has not earned up to $300,000, he will continue to have access to those rights until he is paid in full. Afterwards Ryan will then be granted back his rights to his catalog.
Ryan Leslie’s discography includes Britney Spears, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, The Game, New Edition, Cassie, Fabolous, Lloyd Banks, Tha Dogg Pound, JoJo, Danity Kane, Jim Jones, Kid Cudi and many more.
Ryan Leslie has been pretty since the settlement deal, not really doing much in terms of production and almost nothing as a featured artist. Back in January he did release a four song EP titled, Fleurier Flows. His latest single is titled, “Gorgeous”. Watch the visual below.
Ryan has launched a new venture called SuperPhone. SuperPhone is a custom text management product to track, talk to and transact with his fans. Ryan Leslie’s turning his SuperPhone into a full-fledged CRM for SMS with a new app and round of funding. Designed for entrepreneurs, entertainers and anyone juggling clients or sales contacts, SuperPhone tells you who you’re forgetting to connect with.
It is 2019 so it will be another 3 years before Ryan Leslie regains the rights to his music, here’s hoping he remains focused on the music enough to give fans the artist and producer they fell in love with. In the mean time, Ryan Leslie is finding success with SuperPhone.
Image Credit: Noam Galai / Stringer | Getty Images North America
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