Everyone is keeping Why Don’t We in their thoughts today. The band — which is made up of Corbyn Besson, Daniel Seavey, Jack Avery, Jonah Marais and Zach Herron — has accused their manager, David Loeffler, of “mental, emotional and financial” abuse, and has asked for help from the courts to get out of their contract with him.
What Has The Band Said About It?
On Thursday, September 9, 2021, the group posted a lengthy statement to their social media accounts, where they opened up about the alleged abuse. And according to Billboard, the post comes a few weeks after they petitioned the California Labor Commission to end their contract with Signature Entertainment for violating the Talent Agencies Act.
“As many of you are aware, the unfortunate truth of the mental, emotional and financial abuse we have suffered at the hands of our production company has recently come to light. While our initial instinct was to wait for the storm to pass (as we have been so conditioned to do), we have matured to the point where we now realize that suffering in silence is no longer an option, it is not healthy for either us or our fans,” they wrote. “Without a doubt, publicly sharing our truth makes us feel more vulnerable, however, it is a step we are forced to take to provide the world with access to the harsh ‘behind the scenes’ that we endured as young teens where verbal abuse, malnourishment, and ultimate control were positioned as the price of success.”
The guys explained that when the band first started in 2016, they were forced to all live together in one house with their manager, and the conditions were brutal. They didn’t mention Loeffler by name, but many reports have claimed he’s the person they are referring to.
“We were 15 to 18 years old when Why Don’t We started. We were young, impressionable, and trusting, the result of being brought up in loving, supportive families. While we were initially excited to all be living together in the same house, working together on what we loved most, our music, little did we know that we would eventually become prisoners in the ‘Why Don’t We compound’ under the supervision of one of our managers at Signature Entertainment Partners,” they continued. “He would not only live with us during the day, but controlled us 24/7, setting an alarm that would go off if any door or window was opened. Needless-to-say, we were not given the security code to the alarm, essentially making us hostages in our own home. Food was restricted to the point that some band members developed eating disorders. We had to sneak food in and hide it in our dresser. We were verbally berated almost every day and alienated from our friends and families. We had no support system except for each other and were made to believe that this was ‘normal,’ that every artist had to pay their dues.”
The band concluded, “Unfortunately, this need for extreme dominance has played out for the duration of our careers in a variety of ways that have not only inflicted physical and mental, but also extreme financial harm to us. This is now playing out on the public stage in a continued attempt to weaponize our love for our music and our fans. We will no longer be silenced and we look forward to finally closing the chapter on this traumatic stage in our lives by turning the page to our truth. Our commitment remains to our music, to our label, and most of all to our fans who we cherish and draw strength from as we find our way through this journey.”
Billboard reported that two weeks before they shared the message online, Loeffler’s business parter Randy Phillips sued him in an attempt to remove him from the management team. Phillips attorney Howard King told the outlet in a statement, “Loeffler was living with [the band] at a rental property that had been secured for them to develop music. [He engaged in] nightmarish behavior, [including] daily verbal abuse, screaming at them at the top of his lungs, sometimes for 10-20 minutes and forced the five members to share two small bedrooms, even though the house had a spare, unused bedroom that was upstairs.”
Have Any Other Artists Gone Through Something Similar?
For those who don’t know, Jedward is a group made up of brothers John and Edward Grimes. They appeared on the sixth season of The X Factor, and after coming in sixth place on the singing competition series, they were signed by Modest Management. But after an “amicable agreement,” they cut ties with the company. They went on to drop four albums, release their own documentary and so much more — making them the fifth most financially successful former X Factor UK contestants.
As for One Direction, they were on The X Factor in 2010, and that’s actually where the band was formed. Yep, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik all auditioned as solo artists on the show, but Simon Cowell decided to put them together to form 1D. They came in third place and then they too were managed by Modest. Plus, they also signed with Cowell’s record label, Syco. They went on to become one of the biggest boybands in the world — breaking numerous records, selling out so many world tours, slaying the charts with their songs and so more.
But earlier this year, Jedward decided to shed some insight into their own experience on The X Factor and with Modest Management.
“The biggest regret in life was not telling the judges on X Factor to f**k off,” they wrote. “Every contestant on The X Factor was a slave to the show and got paid zero while they made millions! The fact that every contestant has to act like their judge mentors them! When in reality all they care about is their pay check! Simon Cowell thinks he’s the Mafia leader of the music industry when in reality he’s nothing but a bad facelift.”
As fans know, Little Mix also appeared on the show and signed with Modest Management, and Jedward claimed that the management team dictated 1D and Little Mix’s “every move.”
“There’s a reason Syco is called ‘Psycho!’ 1D and Little Mix are legally f**ked in contracts and can never speak out so we are!” the duo continued during the explosive Twitter rant. “There’s nothing MODEST about their previous management dictating their every move from relationships to how they live their own lives! Justice for 1D and Little Mix.”
Jedward even claimed that they got a glimpse at the contract 1D had signed with Modest. The singers added that they were speaking out about it because they wanted to give insight into “how corrupt the music industry is” and that they were “sending” courage and strength to all artists being f**ked over.”
“We have 1D’s contract which was sent to use by mistake [because] we had the same label! Same management! Same security and accountants!” they explained. “Legally posting contracts online is gonna end up in court but we’ve known for many years the situation! Niall! Liam! Louis! Zayn! Harry! You’re survivors. This isn’t our story to tell! It’s an insight of how corrupt the music industry is! We’re sending courage and strength to all artists being f**ked over! It ends now. It shouldn’t be normal that all artists have to face the emotional and legal battles when all they wanted to do is sing!”
Jedward claimed that speaking out about the situation was putting them in a “very dangerous position.” They also opened up about the negative impacts of fame, adding that eating disorders and depression “are very common in the music industry.”
“Facts are facts we’re putting ourselves in a very dangerous position speaking out! Victims in the music industry need to be heard! Fans have known for years!” they added. “Artists are on the brink of collapse at the end of touring and having to act like everything is OK! Humans can’t be owned, artists shouldn’t be owned! Eating disorders and depression are very common in the music industry and it’s [because] nobody cares about the artist’s mental health! Only the money! When artists ask too much questions they’re a threat and are blacklisted and not given the Radio/PR cuz they want them to fail to make way for new naive dreamers to f**k over. The amount of cover up stories and media that are hired to destroy an artist’s self worth! They never want the power to be in their hands! Security hired to watch and report back to management like baby sitters taking away artists Freedom to grow! We’ve heard all kinds of stories in LA… People don’t just over dose most of the time it’s a set up they’re put in bath/bed and left there till the emergency services are called! They always isolate artists from their families and make them dependent on fake industry friends who don’t have their back! Interview Questions are screened beforehand by management to control the narrative! If artists go off the script there’s consequences! most interview final edits are approved by label before being published! Non-Disclosure Agreements NDA’s are very prevalent in the music industry! Resulting in no one talking about the abuse/stuff that happens!”
They concluded, “Just here casually waiting for the Lawyers to come threatening us! Good Luck from the whole fandom. Justice is gonna be served! You can’t silence the truth! Nobody can drag me down!”
Back in May 2020, Horan slammed rumors that he was treated unfairly by Modest Management. At the time, a video started to circulate online, and in it, it looked like he was tearing up on stage. Fans claimed that he was crying because Modest had turned his microphone off, but Horan said that wasn’t the case at all.
“I’m not even crying,” he replied to the video. “Turning off mics? Ya joking? Hahaha. The stuff I read on here hahaha. Ever hear of a technical issue?”
“Really though, you wouldn’t still be with Modest if they treated you ‘badly,’” one fan replied to the “Heartbreak Weather” crooner, to which he answered, “Exactly.”
Although he didn’t say anything about Modest directly, Payne did call his time in the band “toxic.”
“When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day, even if you’re not happy, you’ve got to go out there,” he told Mens Health Magazine in July 2019. “It’s almost like putting the Disney costume on before you step up on stage and underneath the Disney costume I was pissed quite a lot of the time because there was no other way to get your head around what was going on. I mean, it was fun. We had an absolute blast but there were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic.”
“It was very touch and go at times. It was a point where every day, you didn’t know whether it was going to be the end. It was so touch and go, at every single show. I was slowly losing the plot,” he shared. “I was like: ‘I don’t really know how to deal with this.’ Once you start, you can’t really press the stop button.”
Back in 2012, singer Rebecca Ferguson (who was also previously signed to Modest) didn’t have the nicest things to say about them. She claimed via Twitter that they “watched her collapse” and forced her to do an interview anyway.
“Resorting to stalking my Twitter… The same people that watched me collapse and gave me a can of Coke and said now go do your interview,” she wrote in the now-deleted posts. “The same people that worked me so much I collapsed and had to say stop! I need to see my children you need to give me time off vile! Was so exhausted I couldn’t physically walk on my own but was still told I had to work! #Vile. Be nice to have a nice new responsible caring management team! Who care for me and my children’s well being. #Seeyouincourt!”
Modest ended up suing the singer for “unlawfully ending her contract.” According to reports, they “settled their outstanding legal disputes” out of court in the end, but “terms of the deal have remained secret.”