How record labels are exploiting Uganda’s fresh talent

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By Hussein Kiganda

A decade a go, record labels were all that the artists wanted and the giants in the industry had their own labels. Record labels like Firebase, Leone Island, Gagamel, Good life, Baboon forest and others were dreams to some artists. Most upcoming artists fought to be signed under any of those whose owners were the giants in the industry.

At the moment, some of the record labels that are existing are owned by businessmen who are not artists and therefore do not care about the artists well being but money. Rumours coming from corners show that most of the managers who own the labels are too exploitative to artists.

Singer Kim Beur has come out to fan the exploitation claims by record labels.

Talking to The Kampala Sun, an upcoming artists called Kim Beur said that he wanted to have a label but having contacted some managers, he found out that most of their contracts were too hard to handle.

” I have tried to contact some record labels to take me up but most of their contacts do not favour me. In some of their clauses, one signs for about 4 years and when you attain fame in one year, they do not change their payment policies to that level of fame. Others want us to perform on more than one or two shows which strains us. At times I think that is why some of our fellow artists end up using drugs to keep up the pressure and performance power…,” argued Kim.

In some recent times, some artists left their labels and managers because of the payment schemes which they thought was exploitative to them or they did not make it up with their contract clauses. Irene Ntale left Swangz Avenue, B2C left Andy Events, years back,  Radio and Weasel parted ways with Jeff though retained “goodlife” as their label. It is also rumoured that Chozen Blood left Team No Sleep, Ziza Bafana parted from manager Roja. In most of their arguments, they say that their managers were not good at handling their financial affairs.

Andy Events had a bitter fall out with the B2C soldiers

Months back, Henry Tigan told Kampala Sun that his manager Suudi had mismanaged a show’s finances and gate collections and he ended up giving up on him.

” For Suudi, on one of our shows,we had got sponsors for the show and had promised them entrances. However, Suudi sold the gate collection rights to someone who never knew of the contracts we had made with sponsors and therefore they never got access to the venue yet they had sponsored the show. So we had to part…,” he said.

The B2C boys also had said that the reason why they parted ways with Andy Events was because of financial reasons.

However, taking to Kampala Sun, Andy Events commented on the rumour that most managers and record labels are exploitative. He said that the audience should also take a look at all the efforts that a manager puts in to lift an artist. He also said that the struggle of bringing an artist into the limelight is like a bet because one is not guaranteed that the artist will break through.

” In every business, there is a loss and a profit. So a record label starts with a hope of earning profits in a long run but there are some incidents where the artist does not breakthrough for five years or even ever. In my opinion, this is like a bet because we are not sure when returns will come…,” Andy said.

On the issue of adjusting the contract clauses if the artist breaks through early, he said that he is one of those managers who adjusts the contracts to favour the artist but this depends on the relationship with the artist, and if he does not, it is not a crime since the artist signed the contract in his right senses.

Henry Tigan’s career went south after he fell out with promoter Suudi Lukwago

” You can always adjust the contract depending on the clauses you had in the contract. It even depends on the behaviour of an artist.At some time you become sympathetic depending on the bondage you have with an artist. But in case of no adjustments, no crime is made by the record label…, ” He clarified.

To find out how Andy handles his new artist, Brian Weiys, the Kampala Sun asked Brian whether he thinks that Andy exploits him or if he pays him well. Brian said that he and Andy had not yet agreed on monetary terms.

” He does music for the best of friendship. We have not yet agreed on monetary terms…,” Brian said.

Tracing the fall of some of the artists, the breakup with their managers and record labels is partly attributed to it. So, who needs the other? Managers or artist?All of them need each other.

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