After several years of silence, Gorilla is finally giving their version of suing my band over neverpaytoplay.com. It’s an eye-opening admission of many things I’ve always wondered about. It’s not very visible, buried deep on Gorilla’s new unbelievable itsworktoplay.com website, under the John Michalak button. Not that it will probably ever see the light of day, I still want to respond to all the specifics on this new Gorilla propaganda site.

LET'S BREAK IT DOWN - He says/I say

Michalak writes: In 2009, I found out that a band from Tacoma Washington had built a website that was defaming our company’s reputation. From my perspective, they were defaming a lot of people and companies. I happen to be an extremely honest person that takes pride in my work. Most people would describe me as a hardworking, kindhearted person who acts honestly and fairly at all times.

Here was this site that was saying otherwise. A site that was built by someone or some group of people in which I had never worked with before or even heard of before. I’ll be honest, I was furious! I immediately called our attorney. His advice was to send them a formal letter asking them to stop. In technical terms, it’s called a cease and desist order. So we hired him to draft it and we assumed that this would put an end to it. It didn’t work. Instead they put it on their site and used it to mock us. Wow, that pissed us off.

I say: The formal “cease and desist” letter Gorilla sent us (the one I “mocked”) was sent via regular mail (not registered as most everything legal is) and instructed us to just send them $30,000. By the way, I wasn’t the only one writing about this company (there were many myspace sites and blogs), but I was the only one left that hadn’t bent to their intimidation.

Michalak writes: This set off a chain reaction. We called our attorney back and his advice was to let it go, that it will run its course. He explained that a defamation case would be expensive and difficult.

I say: Their first attorney told them defamation lawsuits are expensive and difficult which is absolutely true. Gorilla arrogantly went against his advice.

Michalak writes: So for a while we did let it go, but then it just got to be too much. They kept adding more inaccurate and hurtful things to their site. Frankly it bothered us a lot.

I say: Gorilla Music is a company that contacts thousands of bands (including Girl Trouble several times) and thousands of bands have turned money into their company, BUT when somebody disagrees with what they are doing, they get their feelings hurt. They should be used to this. Even Gorilla Liz says in the blog she got sued for, "The Top Ten Reasons I Left Gorilla Productions"..."Getting email that says "fuck u, i hope u all die" is only funny the first 1,000 times."

Michalak writes: Eventually, we ran into another attorney that had heard about our problem. She did some research and convinced us that we should file suit against them. Frankly, if wasn’t hard to convince us, so we put the wheels in motion.

I say: The “research” that the second attorney did was to send me an email pretending to be a Girl Trouble fan asking questions about Gorilla and pay-to-play. She was attempting to trap me into saying something that could be used against me in court. See the entire story here.

Michalak writes: We started by filing suit against them in our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Our hope was that they would see we were serious and they wouldn’t want to spend money to defend themselves on a silly website. We were wrong. They hired a Cleveland firm to represent them and we went to war.

I say: Just like with all SLAPP lawsuits, Michalak thought he could bully me by filing a lawsuit against me and my band. This had worked with everyone else they sued, so they assumed it should work out the same with us.

Freedom of speech isn’t “silly” to me.

Gorilla underestimated us.

Michalak writes: The problem we had with the suit was the fact that it was such a huge distraction for us. We wanted to be working on shows and helping bands. We wanted to be writing a book on the music business. This distraction hurt us across the board.

I say: Oh NOW they suddenly want to do positive things, like write books. Too bad they didn’t think about that before they sued me

Michalak writes: In addition, it took 16 months for the court to make a simple decision on jurisdiction. This meant the court needed to decide whether we would be in a Cleveland court or whether we would have to go to Tacoma to sue them. After 16 months, the court decided that we would need to sue them in Tacoma.

I say: Unlike everyone who just gave up when faced with a Gorilla lawsuit, Michalak found out what it was like when somebody finally fought back. Imagine that: It was an unpleasant experience for them.

Michalak writes:
This was heart breaking for us, and frankly we were soured by the whole process.

I say: The ruling came in and they lost. They were soured by filing a lawsuit on somebody when they didn’t win. Yeah, that’ll do it.

Michalak writes:
In truth, we wanted to drop the case earlier even though we felt that we were being unjustly defamed. We just wanted to get back to work.

I say: Once Gorilla realized that we weren’t going to back down, they wanted to drop the lawsuit early because it was no fun and took up a lot of time. Duh. Michalak is writing this like we sued him! Suddenly, poor Gorilla is the victim!

Michalak writes:
So after we found out we would have to start all over in Tacoma if we wanted to continue, we decided to drop it.

I say: When Gorilla found out they’d have to go to the same trouble I had in defending myself, they decided it wasn’t worth it. Plus, the fact that SLAPP laws are strong in Washington State (Yay Wash State lawmakers!) may have helped them make this final decision. As our Ohio attorney Suzanne said when the final decision came in, “They’ll need to play in your sandbox now.”


1. The first was the fact that they drop the word scam from their site. This made us feel a lot better. I assume they did this as a result of their attorney’s advice. Since we are a reputable company stating that we were a scam would have been a clear cut case of defamation.

I will admit I took out about three or four “scam” words out. I feel that the use and definition of many words have changed over the years and the word “scam” is one of them. It is often used when describing a rip-off, like what pyramid schemes turn out to be. That’s not to say they are illegal. I have never said pay-to-play is illegal. It immoral in my opinion to exploit young bands for profit, but absolutely not illegal. However in legal terms “scam” means an illegal act. Since I want this website to be clear in the terms used, I adjusted my terminology. However, I’m still posting screen shots of others (and there are many) who use the term “scam” when describing the practices of Gorilla Music.

2. Secondly, they hadn’t put any new information on their site since we’d started the suit. Later, I found out that was a direct result of their attorney’s advice.

Yes, while the lawsuit was active and with the advice of my two attorneys, I refrained from adding more information about Gorilla to neverpaytoplay.com. This was purposely done so when the judge looked at it, she would only see what the argument was about and not anything extra. When we won the judgement, I resumed adding information.

3. Next, as I already stated, we wanted to focus on positive things instead of negative stuff. We felt that we could work through it using positivity, and we still feel that way.

I wish Gorilla had come up with this “positivity” idea before they decided to sue me. “Now” they want to be positive, after trying to squash us like a bug and put us through Hell. Their tactic didn’t work so now they want to be positive? There's a joke! By the way if they are now so positive, why did they sue another former Gorilla rep (Mike Thompson, aka Paul Masterson Cuyahoga Civil Court # CV-14-825792 - hit "yes" and then type "Gorilla" into the "civil search by name"/"company name" box) in April 2014? Of course it looks like Gorilla won by default because Thompson didn't bother to fight it. Old habits are hard to break.

4. Lastly, we found out that this wasn’t a group of people, but the work of one individual.

Why would it make a difference how many people they were suing? Seems to me it would be easier to sue one person than four. I don't get it.


Michalak writes: I have read through her site. Frankly, I disagree with almost everything she says on there. I personally think that her site is manipulative, hurtful, insulting, and dishonest in the way it presents the facts.

However, I do not believe that she is a bad of person. In fact, I believe that in real life, she is probably a very nice person. I just think that she is too obsessed with this topic to be unbiased. She seems to refuse to see any other side but her own. I am not trying to throw her under the bus. In fact, I think she would agree with me and say that she is closed to anyone else’s opinion on Pay to Play or Gorilla Music. On her site, she states that no one is going to change her mind.


I would like to address something that I’ve been dealing with from the moment I started writing against pay-to-play. That is the passive/aggressive email. Almost every one of the pay-to-play promoters and company reps have written me one of these insulting complementary remarks. The last paragraph is very typical of what I normally receive.

Notice how Michalak claims my site (and essentially me, since I wrote it) is manipulative, hurtful, insulting and dishonest but I’m probably not a bad person. In fact, I’m probably a nice person. See the problem here? These guys are pros at psychological manipulation. It’s a technique that works great on kids when you are trying to get them to sell more tickets. On me...not so much.

And yes, I am biased. That’s why I have a website against pay-to-play and any promoter who practices it. I hate P2P. I think it’s a rip-off for bands. I think it’s bad for fans. I think it’s worse for the music community. I’m not going to all this trouble to argue both sides or give Gorilla’s side of the story. I’m here to present my side.
Gorilla and others devote lots of energy, time and money to state their opinion on how pay-to-play is a great idea. I’m voicing my opposition. Doesn’t that seem logical? It’s true that no one is changing my mind about pay-to-play. I have an opinion and I will not apologize for taking a stand. Period.