Sign a contract or shut up! [Article]

“I wanna be a star!”

I hear wannabe artistes yell this mantra most times. But the sad thing is that most of them don’t even know what goes into being a star and they are not willing to learn.

“I’ve been cheated!”

You hear them cry when they later find out that things are not what they expected to see. They feel and see the realities of stardom as they grow!

“You’re ungrateful!”

This happens when record labels, music producers and artiste managers who took their work relationships with artistes  as philanthropy, come back to reveal how ‘un-profitable’ their business with their artistes have been.

Let me stop waxing poetic and hit the nail right on the head.

Let’s go!!!

The issue of artistes falling out with their manager/record labels or vice versa is not new to the entertainment indsutry but what makes it excrucaitingly annoying the usless claims that follow the break ups.

Of late, there have been a couple of cases of artistes claiming their managers have cheated them and managers claiming the artistes have been ungrateful to them.

Desperation to be a star

Getting into showbiz is like preparing for marriage. You don’t just wake up and start recording music, performing at shows et al. Music is a serious business. You need to groom yourself for it. Learn the business side of the game before you fully get into it.

Most up and coming artistes make the mistake of rushing to be seen and heard. What happens is that most of them don’ even mind to beg a record label to put them on even if they won’t get any monetary returns. They just want to be heard. They want people to see they can sing too.

When they start getting popular and they don’t get money to match up to their popularity, then they start disturbing public peace.

At this stage, they don’t even care to find out more about whether who they want to manage them or produce them has the capacity and credibility to do so.

I have personally had a lot of musicians hit my inbox to ask that I manage them. Why? Because they think that I am a media person, I have quite an influence on social media and  do music reviews. They don’t bother to find out whether I have what it takes to manage an artiste.

Yes, I can manage an artiste but I can only do that effectively if that is the main business I do. I’ll be a bad music artiste manager if I do it as a pastime to my busy job schedules. I can’t manage an artiste at the moment.

But I have told them that the best I can do to help is promotion and Public Relations. The work of an artiste manager is not a joke!

If artistes take time to learn the nuances of the entire music trade, they would develop a sense for who qualifies to manage their music talent and music business.

A contract or a contact?

After discovering your dreams and talent; after getting someone to handle you (whether a manager or record label), you need to sign a contract. Insist that a contract is signed. Be convinced that you are comfortable with the terms before you sign.

It was sad when Kaakie recently came out lamenting her failed work relationship with Xtra Large Music. What was nauseating was where she said she had signed a bad contract with Xtra Large Music. Who forced her to sign a bad contract?

Kaakie parts with JMJ

Gospel musician Joyce Blessing has also had her own dose of sour artiste-manager experience with Kwesi Ernest. At the beginning, she thought it was okay to be with Media Excel  without a contract so she just hopped onto Kwesi Ernest’s bike and rode it all along until she decided she was riding a faulty bike.

Joyce Blessing had no contract with Kwesi Ernest

I have also heard music duo Gallaxy say they did not sign any contract with Harbour City Records. However they had a verbal contract. Who says verbal contracts are not binding?

Information has it that the CEO of Harbour City Records is not happy about Gallaxy’s exit from the record label. If this is not a stunt like Ebony’s, then it really shows we are taking serious things for granted in the Ghanaian music industry.

Gallaxy exits Harbour City Records

Examples of failed artiste-manager relationships abound in the Ghanaian music industry: how Okraku Mante and Kumi Guitar parted; how Shatta Wale jilted Bulldog and Kiki Banson allowing Becca to ‘fend’ for herself, still remain some prominent break ups in Ghana’s music industry.

Last Tuesday on the ‘Pundits’ hosted by George Quaye on GH One television, I also heard Iwan and Trigmatic recount how they did not benefit financially from record labels they had previously work with.

Iwan once worked with Bullhaus Entertainment

The Exploitation Theory

There are very professional record labels and artiste managers in the country – people who will make sure that from the outset, every step taken is duly executed.

However, there are some bad nuts who don’t do the wrong things because of their ignorance but due to the unbridled quest to skew things to their side. Some artiste managers and/or record labels will just take advantage of artistes’ ignorance to exploit them.

While desperation drives the artiste to work without a contract, exploitation moves the manager to do same. This mostly happens when the artiste present themselves as naïve and blind in the business.

As manager who understands show business, it is professional to go into a contract  with whichever artiste you decide to work with.

Conclusion

Artistes and managers should stop bellyaching about their failed music work relationships after they have fallen out with each other.

If you went into a business venture without any (proper) contract, keep shut when you start facing problems. Yes! Shut up! Because no matter what happens, either party enjoys some privileges and ‘fringe benefits’ while the relationship lasts.

If you think you have a good case, go to court. We’re tired of the “I’ve been cheated,” “you’ve been ungrateful” stories.

By: Kwame Dadzie/citifmonline.com/Ghana

(kwamedazzy@yahoo.co.uk)

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