Trio to Get $20 Million Signing Advance

The Dixie Chicks signed a lucrative new pact with Sony Music, according to published reports.

The new deal, which may be announced as early as today, calls for an estimated $20 million signing advance, sources told the Los Angeles Times. The pact requires that the musicians reimburse Sony for about $15 million from record sales before collecting royalties. In addition, the trio's managers and lawyers are expected to reap fees estimated at $3 million, or about 15% of the $20 million transaction, the Times attributed to sources.

As part of the deal, Sony agreed to significantly boost the Nashville trio's royalty rate to about 20%, sources said. The next Dixie Chicks CD, Home, due out Aug. 27, will be the first release on the trio's own Wide Open Records label, which will be distributed through Sony's Columbia and its Nashville Monument arm. Any records released on the new label will be marketed and promoted through Sony.

Last summer, the Dixie Chicks tried to get out of their contract with Sony's Monument label. Sony then sued the Dixie Chicks for breach of contract, arguing it would lose as much as $100 million if the band did not deliver the five remaining records left on its contract. The Dixie Chicks, which includes Natalie Maines, Martie Seidel and Emily Robison, countersued Sony, accusing the company of shoddy accounting practices and underpaying royalties owed the band.

The Dixie Chicks have sold nearly 20 million albums, generating more than $175 million in revenue for Sony since 1997.

The singers are the latest superstars to sue their label only to back down after receiving a hefty advance. Among those who have threatened legal action are Don Henley, Luther Vandross and Beck, the Times said.