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As infighting rocks Kenya’s stagnant and ailing music industry

As infighting rocks Kenya’s stagnant and ailing music industry, it’s time everything was put down on paper, writes Chebet Korir

Early this week, there was a hailstorm of Internet disruption after Nigerian music star, Tiwa Savage, who was a guest artiste at Redsan’s album launch held last Saturday in Nairobi, called out on Kenyan promoters.

In her online rant, Tiwa alleged the promoters hadn’t settled her accommodation bill and neither did they provide transport to the airport.

Her tweet read, “Funny how everyone is asleep and phones are off after the show, but they blow up your phone when they need you for radio and press runs before the show.”

This brought a lot of controversial discussions on various social media platforms, as to why local promoters have repeatedly been ‘killing’ the Kenyan entertainment scene. In the midst of it all, Redsan was dragged into the heat as he was allegedly accused of being part of it.

He, however, came out to defend his name stating that fans should stop trying to drag his good name in mud, as he thanked the media for not jumping to conclusions and support.

In Tiwa’s case, Redsan wrote, “@tiwasavage and I couldn’t be tighter; she came personally for my gig and did an amazing job (sic).” He also stated that “Vulture promoters” were the ones killing the industry and they should stop waiting for artistes to show up in Kenya then go ahead and show up with their dollars.

Just before the wave settled, an audio recording started doing rounds, allegedly of Redsan having a heated and rough conversation with his producer, Sappy.

In the audio, a voice similar to Redsan’s is heard arguing with the producer. Some verbal assaults could be heard as well, as Redsan repeatedly shouted to Sappy saying: “Nataka usimame. Wewe ni mwanaume. Simama! (I want you to stand. You are a man. Stand!).”

Spice has come to learn that Redsan could not perform his new music during the star-studded album launch because it was not ready. According to Sappy, the Shoulder Back hit maker could not demand anything since he was producing the music for free.

Efforts to reach out to Redsan were in vain, but it has been alleged that he suffered a hand injury during the confrontation with Sappy. The producer did not answer to our phone calls.

This whole situation begs to ask whether everything was grounded on paperwork for anything to work efficiently in entertainment industry. KRG The Don, a Kenyan dancehall artiste and label owner, said that he also offered to do a music video for Redsan in Dubai, albeit pro-bono, and that no paperwork was involved.

“There was no written contract between us. However, I was just helping out a brother because we had done a project together previously. I was doing it out of brotherhood love only to realise I was not benefiting from it in anyway,” he said.

According to Patrick Sampao, an entertainment strategist who has worked with international artistes such as Duane Stephenson and Morgan Heritage, paperwork should be the first thing an artiste, the management and promoter should work on.

“Sappy and Redsan might have had their own share of differences because finer details of their contract may have been overlooked, especially when it came to the album. There is, of course, the usual split sheet based on royalties, but what happens when and if an artiste makes money from an alternative source?

Is there a clause that commits the artiste to share the revenue with the producer? A lot of business in the Kenyan music scene is usually done on a gentleman’s agreement and few contracts are written and that’s why we see all these disputes come in.”

He adds that before even an artiste steps on stage to perform, an agreement between them and the promoter should be in place first, taking to effect performance fees, nature of the performance and amenities such as transport, accommodation and meals.

On the other hand, the artiste’s management should do due diligence to ensure that all the things signed for in the contract are observed, including confirmation with the hotel on the bookings.

Ali Oumarou, Kiza Lounge managing director, says that even in terms entertainment and celebrity appearances, contracts are a must. “We always work with contracts, be it a local or international artiste. Paperwork is an important aspect in this regard,” he told Spice.

Pacho Entertainment honcho, Naiboi, also insists when a deal is done, be it between an artiste, a producer or promoter, there should be a written document specifying the modus operandi.

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