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Selling Song Catalogs Is a Billion-Dollar Business Now. But One Pending Sale — Called the 'Ultimate Partnership Betrayal' — Is Tearing an Iconic 1970s Pop Duo Apart. Daryl Hall and John Oates, the pair behind hits "Rich Girl" and "Maneater," were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

By Amanda Breen

Key Takeaways

  • Daryl Hall is legally contesting John Oates' attempt to sell his share of Whole Oats Enterprises LLP, which holds rights to their shared music assets.
  • The New York company Primary Wave Music, known for managing music legends' estates and catalogs, is the prospective buyer in the contentious sale.
  • While Oates claims he is within his rights to sell, Hall describes the move as "the ultimate partnership betrayal," putting the duo's long-standing collaboration in jeopardy.

One of the music world's most legendary partnerships is facing off in a Nashville courthouse.

Daryl Hall and John Oates, whose hits like "Rich Girl" and "Maneater" defined a generation, are embroiled in a legal struggle over Oates' decision to sell his share in Whole Oats Enterprises LLP, per unsealed court documents reported by The New York Times.

Image Credit: Steve Thorne | Getty Images. Daryl Hall, left; John Oates, right.

Related: Katy Perry Sells Music Catalog For Hundreds of Millions — More Than Justin Bieber and Bob Dylan

Hall and Oates, who rose to stardom in the 1970s and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, named the LLP "Whole Oats" in homage to their original group name and first album. The entity managed various trademark, social media and website assets.

Hall is claiming Oates attempted to sell his stake in the venture to Primary Wave Music, a New York company with a focus on marketing estates and song catalogs. Hall's legal representatives sought to stop Oates from advancing any sale, and on November 30, a judge agreed to block the deal until an arbitrator settles the dispute, or until February 17.

"I am deeply troubled by the deterioration of my relationship with, and trust in, John Oates," Hall wrote in a court filing, referring to the feud as the "ultimate partnership betrayal."

Oates's lawyer, Tim Warnock, defended his client's actions, contending that he proceeded within his rights.

Some of the Hall and Oates' catalog is already tied up with Primary Wave. The company previously acquired interests from the songwriters Sara and Janna Allen, integral to some of Hall & Oates's most significant works.

Primary Wave, which has acquired some of the biggest catalogs in music — from Kurt Cobain's to Bob Marley's, Whitney Houston's and more — forged a $2 billion partnership with Brookfield Asset Management (with CAA as a strategic partner) to invest in even more catalogs last year, Variety reported.

Related: Nelly Is 'Shaking a Tailfeather' All the Way to the Bank. Rapper Sells Half of His Song Catalog for $50 Million.

Although lawsuits and separations are common in the music industry, this one stands out in light of Hall and Oates' long-standing mutual career and legacy, which appeared solid until now, though the two set out on separate performance schedules earlier this year.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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