There is more to come for dancehall singjay Serani, who has announced that he has bought out his four album deal with Universal Republic.
In January of this year it was announced that Serani had been signed with Universal Records which should have been the distributor of his debut album No Games. No Games was officially launched last week in New York. Yesterday, however, it was announced via a press release sent by Serani’s manager Julian Jones-Griffith, that Serani is “unhappy with the ways we’re playing out with Universal”.
Album sales for Serani’s No Games hasn’t been what was expected, yet the artiste’s manager Julian Jones-Griffith, in an interview with THE WEEKEND STAR yesterday, is still optimistic about the work put in thus far. According to Billboard’s Reggae charts, No Games moved over 1100 units in sales, digital and hard copy, in its first week.
Universal Records is an American and British record label owned by Universal Music Group, and operates as part of The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group. Universal has had success in breaking new artistes such as Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan and Lil Wayne, among others. When THE WEEKEND STAR spoke with Jones-Griffith he explained that the buy out took place two months ago.
dropped the ball
According to Jones-Griffith, somewhere along the way somebody had ‘dropped the ball.’ He said,”we got a very unique deal with Universal, something they have never done before, distribution and promotion wise. As it panned out, they realised it would have taken them longer than usual to re-coup their profit. They realised the tables were turned and we were getting the majority of the revenue. So it ended up that we were spending more out of our pockets and decided why then should they get the revenue so we asked them for the price of the deal and bought them out.”
According to Jones-Griffith, in the beginning Universal wanted to sign Serani as their artiste but Serani opted not to go that route: one that has proven not to work in the favour of other Jamaican artistes. At the time of the signing when The STAR spoke to Serani, he was pleased by the right ‘fit’ between himself and Universal. He said, “It’s a rebirth, basically I’ve covered a lot of ground, in other words, the underground. I’m gonna have a lot of work ahead of me, all the work I did before, I will have to do 50 times more.” However Jones-Griffith elaborated that while Universal supported the artiste originally, they soon weren’t giving him the attention needed to promote a new artiste of his genre.
not enough units
No Games was instead released as a joint venture between Phase One Communications and Rockstone Media Group. Phase One is an up and coming company operating in New York that is working with new artistes such as Serani. Rockstone Media Group is owned by Jones-Griffith and Serani. A straight distribution deal was then struck with Razor & Tie, who went through Sony. However, Jones-Griffith said not enough units were sent out for sale and it was difficult to get the album in certain stores.
Now Serani’s team is hoping to re-distribute and re-launch the album sometime early next year. They will also be releasing the third single, Take Me Higher, which Jones-Griffith described as a more “crossover” song.Serani has been mainly based in the United States since late last year promoting his music and the upcoming album. Jones-Griffith said he was not surprised by the album’s first-week sales but he has not been disappointed in the work put in by Serani.