Day 5 of the Ghost Trial Summary (No Spoilers)

Omega testifies and the trial runs into a 6th day.

Ghost

Note: we refer to Ghost’s frontman by his stage name, see this article for the reason why.

Welcome to The Metal Report’s second part of the coverage of day three of the trial which sees four former Nameless Ghouls suing Ghost‘s front man. Bold text is The Metal Report’s comments and are not a part of the proceedings.

Updated: As I mentioned in the original version of this article, there were parts of Omega’s testimony I didn’t understand. Some of it seemed important and I didn’t want to misrepresent what was said, so his testimony now has extra parts.

Updated 2: The article contained an error in the Overview stating that Omega seemed to be a witness for Copia. He wasn’t, he was a Ghoul witness. My mistake here was that I thought Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk had started questioning when it was actually Michael Berg; it was a mistake created by working on the article for 4 hours that a quick double check would have corrected. I’m grateful to MissyPrim on Reddit for drawing attention to the mistake. 

Updated 3: Omega co-wrote more songs than I realised. List has been updated.Also he played on more songs than I listed and that too has been updated. 

Day one – Opening remarks
Day two – Opening remarks and Alpha/Fire testimony
Day three part 1 – Alpha/Fire, Air, Earth and Water testify
Day three part 2 – Cardinal Copia testimony
Day four – Original Water, Sissi Hagald, Niels Nielson, Magnus Strömblad, Biffen Jansson

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Ghost Lawsuit: Colin Young Testimony

Colin Young is Cardinal Copia’s financial adviser. Questioning by Copia’s lawyer Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk

  • Outlines his qualifications and his experience of representing over 200 artists in the music industry.
  • He talks about the arrangements for Ghost’s finances. The US company handled money made in the US while the money made outside the US was handled by the UK company.
  • Bands are paid a fee per performance and if a band plays regularly then it works well for the members of the band. If the band doesn’t play regularly then the members could join other bands, so band members are paid a commitment fee – a monthly salary.
  • Each month they receive an invoice and once the band’s management authorise it, his company pays the invoice.
  • He only dealt with Copia, as far as he was concerned the Ghouls were hired musicians. He didn’t know who the Ghouls were, though he may have run into them backstage.
  • He never met with the Ghouls, just paid their monthly invoices.
  • In the early years Ghost made a loss so Copia lived on his writing payments. The first time Ghost made significant money from touring was in 2017 and because of the dissatisfaction of payments by the former Ghouls, a reimbursement was negotiated with them.
  • If the band is losing money then hired musicians may be negotiated down on their salaries but if there are profits then they may be paid more.
  • He is asked about the financial risks to Copia. In terms of recording the risk is small as the costs are paid by the advance from the record label but gigs and merchandise are different. Tours can make losses and the merchandise is required to make up that loss but merchandise has to be paid for in advance and Copia has sole responsibility for that payment.
  • Young has advised Copia since November 2012. Copia is the sole owner of the US company and the UK one.
  • He explains that the original deal with Ghost was with three members and later became only Copia.

Michael Berg, lawyer for the Ghouls now questions Young.

  • Young is asked how advance money would work if he was dealing with a band with four members. He says that it would depend on if all of them had signed a contract with hi, from there he’s need to know what agreements were in place between the band members.
  • Confirms that he had seen a contract between Ghost and Rick Sales but it wasn’t for merchandise or publishing. As far as live shows, he doesn’t remember seeing an agreement with Sales.
  • Sales had the ability to negotiate with the Ghouls, all negotiations were between Sales and Copia who would negotiate for Ghost.

Berg ends his questioning and Björk asks one last question of Colin Young.

  • Young is asked who owns the copyright of Ghost. Svenk Drama Pop owns it and the company has one owner – Copia.

Before anyone brings it up, Svenk Drama Pop AB has two listed members, one is Copia who is the owner and shareholder, the second is a deputy. It is a requirement of Swedish companies to have a deputy director if there is only one owner. The deputy director is a family member of Copia’s and likely has had no input into the running of the company. 

Ghost Lawsuit: Kristen Mulderig Testimony

Kristen has been referenced previously in the proceedings, she works for Rick Sales Entertainment. Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk begins questioning. 

  • Her role is to help with recording, negotiate publish deals and to create strategies to make the band more successful.
  • She began to work with Ghost when they were contacted by Sissi Hagald. Kristen travelled to Linköping to meet with them.
  • She met with Sissi, Copia, Niels, Alpha/Fire and another person.

I believe this is the original Water. 

  • The deal was negotiated between Rick Sales Entertainment’s lawyer and Sissi Hagald.
  • Confirms Hagald as Copia’s lawyer, she did not represent the Ghouls.
  • During the meeting Alpha and the other person did not ask questions or get involved.
  • She had limited dealings with the Ghouls, she initially helped them with arranging travel and everyday tasks of that nature.
  • She had no agreements with the Ghouls. She states that her deal was only with Ghost.
  • Initially they wanted to pay monthly salaries to the Ghouls but there was no money to do so.
  • Copia had notified Rick Sales Entertainment that the Ghouls were hired musicians.
  • The Ghouls had agreed to monthly payments, they regularly sent invoices and none expressed unhappiness with being a hired musician.
  • Invoices were sent to Copia as Universal had taken nearly a month to register them and then a further two weeks to pay.
  • Asked about two letters she had written that referred to the Ghouls being in Ghost, she said she used that language regularly with hired musicians and technicians.
  • She also represents other bands who use hired musicians, she cites Slayer as an example.
  • It’s a common arrangement, she has 15-20 bands with that arrangement. They use a standard letter and change the names.
  • The Ghouls felt the contract was insulting but it was only a draft agreement. As Copia was getting married it was sent early but didn’t include the clauses he’d asked for regarding bonuses for the Ghouls. She says the first draft never promises huge amounts.
  • The Ghouls never questioned the contract stating they were hired musicians.

Michael Berg now questions.

  • Berg asks about correspondence between her and the Ghouls, she says it is common to communicate with band members who are not under contract to Rick Sales Entertainment.
  • Berg asks questions about agreements between band members, the contract with Rick Sales etc, but she says she wasn’t involved in the negotiations so doesn’t know.
  • She confirms receiving an email in March 2012 from one of the Ghouls asking for money and they were working on it, but the Ghouls did not want to take risks.
  • She is asked if she authorised the Ghouls invoicing a higher amount. She again restates that she doesn’t have the power to negotiate, she was told that they could invoice for more.

Ghost Lawsuit: Rick Sales Testimony

Söderlund Björk begins questioning

  • He explains the role of his company to make the artist as successful as possible.
  • Copia had clear views of what he wanted to achieve with Ghost and had a plan over several years.
  • He travelled to Linköping where he met Copia, his wife and children and they discussed Copia’s ideas for Ghost.
  • Sales doesn’t know if the Ghouls were equals but Copia was the creative force.
  • It became clear that all decisions were made by Copia.
  • Says he was never asked to represent Alpha and Air, his deal was with Copia only. In his opinion the Ghouls knew he was Copia’s manager only.
  • It was clear they were hired musicians and they would be paid weekly, monthly or per show.

Michael Berg now questions.

  • Sales says his agreement was with Ghost. When asked about all six signing the contract, he says he asks all members to sign as he doesn’t know in advance who who was involved in writing the music.
  • He says that all signatories have the same rights and responsibilities as Copia.
  • Doesn’t know what agreements were in place. Berg pushes him on invoicing details but Berg doesn’t understand the question.
  • Berg produces an email he wants to cover with Sales, Björk objects as the email is new evidence which hasn’t been disclosed.  Eventually the evidence is approved as both sides intend to use it.

Ghost Lawsuit: Omega Testimony

Michael Berg begins questioning.

  • Met Copia in 2001, had known Alpha for a long time too.
  • In 2010 Alpha and Copia had recorded an album and were putting together a live band, Omega asked if he could join.
  • There was no agreement in place at the time, he thought it would be fun to play live and go overseas. He just knew that he was in and would get to play.
  • Says that if Ghost made money it would have gone back into the band to cover costs. Hypothetically if there was a lot of money then he believes it would have been spilt.
  • The meeting on March 2nd was to discuss everyone’s roles in the band, a contract and getting a manager.
  • He says that the manager should represent everyone in the band.
  • They had meetings every Monday but the ones on the 2nd and 11th of March were the main ones.
  • There was so much to go over he realised they needed a manager.
  • Confirms that they received money from merchandise profit after the New York show.
  • Goes on to say that as a member of the band he felt he should have a say in things, says that there was an agreement for an even share of 1/6 each.
  • Says that profit from merch and gigs would be split equally.
  • Asked about the company that would be formed, Omega was under the impression that all of them were involved as they were asked to suggest names.
  • The US company would be used to manage money so he was a part of that as well in his opinion.
  • Says that Ghost was a company and he was in the company as far as he was concerned.
  • They were going to form a company as they couldn’t form a financial partnership.
  • Omega believed that money from a record contract would be split evenly.

Update: Jope777’s translation here is, “Of course, I’m on the album and should have a share.” At this time he hasn’t played on an album, but he did play every song on Infestissumam, then on If You Have Ghosts and Crucified. He also played on the live version of Secular Haze used on the If You Have Ghosts EP. 

  • There were a lot of gigs coming up and there was anxiety about money as people had to take time off work to play.
  • They had to leave their jobs but Ghost wasn’t making money so they couldn’t pay their rent.
  • Regarding an email he sent about the financial situation, he doesn’t remember but he thinks he was “pissed off” and so sent the email in anger without talking to the other members.

Update: There was a small part of this I couldn’t work out, it was that he was angry that Copia was in a company and now they were having to negotiate with Copia’s manager instead of speaking to them both together. I didn’t want to misrepresent this statement as it is an important one as Omega seems to acknowledge that the manager didn’t represent the Ghouls. 

  • His opinion was that if there was no money then he needed to be paid retroactively when there was.

Update: Again I didn’t want to include what I thought was said until I could clarify it. He mentions here that if they weren’t going to be paid then they needed to be bought out retroactively for the gigs he had performed.

  • He wrote music and designed costumes for the band, helped with covers and strategy.

Omega co-wrote two songs, Year Zero and Zenith. Zenith was a bonus track on an extended edition of Meliora while Year Zero is one of Ghost’s best known songs. Edit: He also co-wrote Body and Blood, Monstrance Clock, Spirit, From the Pinnacle to the Pit, He Is, Mummy Dust, Majesty and Absolution. 

  • There was a conference call with Rick Sales where money was discussed because they would be recording in the US. He was angry because they didn’t have money to eat. Universal didn’t have money to pay them so they could pay their rent and eat for a bread roll and Caprisun for them, but had the money to rent the 5th biggest recording studio in the world for them and had the money to fly them out plus to put them up in hotels.

Update: Better translation of what was said which gives more weight to the point Omega was making.

  • Says that he wasn’t a hired musician.
  • Asked about the second Earth joining (the one involved in the lawsuit), he says that they jointly agreed he should join.
  • Was glad to get a contract in 2016 after years of complaining but it wasn’t what they agreed. He said to the others that Copia could not have seen the deal as it wasn’t what he asked for.
  • Copia said he wasn’t behind that version of the contract. Everyone was upset as it wasn’t what it was supposed to be.

Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk now questions.

  • Says that being in Ghost was fun.
  • When asked if he’d have been prepared to pay back the advance if the band doesn’t make money, Omega says he doesn’t know of arrangements like that.
  • Called a meeting to discuss money but he wanted a separate meeting first with just him, not the other Ghouls as he didn’t want interruptions. Some of the band members didn’t know what VAT was.

Updated this sentence with more detail. 

  • Said they wanted a contract in writing.
  • Omega is asked where he was on the 2nd of April. He hesitates to answer and is asked if he’s been reading the trial coverage on the Linköping News site. No, but he’s been reading re-reported versions of it. He has not read much and didn’t want to know so much of the proceedings.
  • They discuss the addition of other members and how they came to be in Ghost.
  • Omega was at the meeting with Rick Sales.
  • Discussion of the October 31st email where Copia talked about ideas. There’s a reference to things going forward wouldn’t be different, Omega asks, “Different to what, I wonder?”

Updated this sentence with more detail.

  • Had no idea about financial partnerships.
  • More discussions about money and the issue seemed to be agreed on and it would be resolved.
  • Says he wasn’t paid for 2011 but started invoicing at the beginning of 2013 as Sissi Hagald instructed.

There was a typo here, the original version said he started invoicing in 2013.

  • At the March meeting they discussed new costumes, money and the new album, they got the deal they wanted but he hadn’t recorded that in the notes. didn’t sign it.

Apologies, I misunderstood what was said here. 

Questioning ends for the day.

Overview

And day 5 ends on a cliffhanger as the case runs into the extra allocated day and we have to wait to find out why Omega was fired from Ghost. Omega’s departure has never been discussed previously so fans have been surprised to learn he was fired and are eager to know the details.

The testimonies from Colin Young, Rick Sales and Sissi Hagald all backed Copia’s side of the story, but they are his witnesses so that’s to be expected. As Omega wasn’t involved in litigation his testimony is most likely to sway fan opinion, although Niels Nielson remains the fairest and most impartial so far.

The defence case seems to be looking to prove that the Ghouls involved in the early days of Ghost did so as they’d get to travel for free and it’d be fun while none of them contributed financially leaving Copia trying to scrabble for money. The implication is that none of them expected payment but would get some money if Ghost made a profit. The distribution of money after the New York gig is another indicator of this. When they then pushed for salaries they then became hired musicians which is confirmed by the new contract with Rick Sales where Copia was the only signatory.

The Ghoul’s lawyer is still pushing hard over the contract with Rick Sales where all were signatories and is still trying to argue that inclusive language such as “we” meant that the Ghouls were partners. Sales’ admission that by signing the contract they had equal rights is a huge win for the Ghoul camp.

Both sides’ arguments have merit and somewhere in between is the truth.  It certainly still seems that Copia’s initial idea was for everything to be split 6 ways but as arguments over money grew and he was left doing the vast majority of work, things changed. Sissi Hagald’s statement that the first draft contract didn’t include the terms Copia asked for is important and it shows that the second version was what he proposed, which was far fairer to the Ghouls. I doubt that the two sides will make up anytime soon but at least that proves that he was on the level with them (no pun intended). There’s been speculation amongst fans based on the accounting details we posted in an earlier report that if the Ghouls had hung around for one more year then they’d have been paid well and Colin Young’s testimony seems to back that up. It’s interesting that they were offered a back payment in 2017 to balance out the lean years, although it didn’t say when in 2017 so there’s no way of knowing if the offer was made before the Ghouls filed suit in April 2017 or after. It also validates the new home that Copia bought last year as the band was finally into a reasonable profit. Also, while Ghost seemed to do well in 2017 there’s no guarantee that profits would actually have been shared with the Ghouls.

I personally can’t see this ending any other way than the judge ordering the accounts to be opened. While the bonus system introduced in the October 2016 contract wasn’t for profit sharing, only performance related bonuses, the only way to verify the situation from the early years is to see the accounts. This case is only about that, it’s not attempting to decide whether the band were partners or their legal agreements, only if the accounts should be seen. Once the accounts are revealed then there’ll likely be more litigation if there was profit. Even if the Ghouls are shown legitimate figures at that point, it is very possible that there won’t have been any money to share.

For now we have to wait patiently until tomorrow.

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Andreas Schander has been covering the trial live for Linkoping News and this report is based on translations of his work. The only parts of his work that have been replicated exactly are reproduced in quotations. 

About Morg

Metal Report Editor. Ex guitarist in Zenopede, ex vocals for a goth covers band that was hailed as the future of Welsh music, former DJ, promoter and nightclub director. Writer for Gear4Geeks' Blog4Geeks and owner of Gear4Geeks ltd. First published music critique was Kerrang letter of the Week. Definitely has never been the future, present or past of Welsh music.

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