The Sunday Mail
Artistes at Diamond Studios have ganged up against the bosses at the record label for what they perceive as unfair treatment.
The artistes, most of whom are still to make an impact in the cut-throat music industry, are arguing that Diamond Studios has a “straitjacket” modus operandi that results in them being treated as second-class citizens by the company.
Established artistes in the mould of high-flying Mukudzei Mukombe who trades as Jah Prayzah are said to be receiving preferential treatment from the studio.
Though some of the artistes have had to be forced by circumstances to stick around and “endure the pain”, others have simply abandoned ship and joined rival stables after being driven to the limit.
Artistes that have been at loggerheads with the studio include the Chimbetu cousins Tryson and Douglas, Romeo Gasa, First Farai, Joyce Simeti and Kudzi Nyakudya.
Firing from the hip was rising dendera musician Douglas, son to Allan.
The young lad accused Diamond Studios of being a bully that forces budding artistes to do business their way. He said the stable, due to its financial muscle, was in the habit of breaching contracts as and when it saw it fit.
“My acrimony with the studio started when they condemned my videos and discredited the team that I used for shooting. Surprisingly they went on the engage the same team to film other musicians’ videos. This then made me realise that there were issues between us,” he said.
Douglas said the studio’s behaviour was threatening not only his career but that of other musicians within the stable.
“They went on to sabotage me by failing to release copies of my latest album “Southern Letter” on the launch date. The studio bosses are always tossing us around forcing us to do things their way. They frustrated Romeo (Gasa) by backtracking on the initial contract they had with him in the process forcing him out of town and subsequently business,” fumed Douglas, adding “and they want to do the same to me.”
The dendera artiste has a contract with the company that runs up to the end of the year. He has, however, indicated that he will not be renewing it.
Last year, the studio also had a similar crisis with gospel musician Simeti after failing to release an album that she had finished working on. Simeti’s album “Anozvigonesesa” was used as surety by a producer who was owed undisclosed amounts of money for his services by the studio.
Simeti then approached lawyers to help her terminate her relationship with the stable.
“The studio failed to release my album on time since it was being held by my producer as security. I tried to talk to the studio boss and he said he was busy working on Jah Prayzah’s next album and could only attend to me later,” she said.
Tryson ended up releasing his project through Tuku Music after efforts to have his album released faced resistance at Diamond Studios. Out of frustration, the Chimbetu brothers have, unfortunately, tried to drag their cousin Suluman into the studio’s predicament.
At one point gospel musician Nyakudya was arrested after he was found selling pirated CDs of his music. The controversial artiste’s defence was “the stable was not doing enough to market and distribute his music”.
However, Diamond Studios marketing manager John Muroyi contends the stable is run professionally and conducts business according to the book.
He said most of the claims made against the record company were not correct and were influenced by uninformed positions. According to Muroyi, happenings at Diamond Studios are typical to any other studio around the country and across borders.
“We have a problem that artistes just want to rush to drop sub-standard products on the market. It is our duty as a stable to guard against such practices.
“When we feel an artiste has not done his project to perfection, we will not let it pass since it also has a bearing on our brand,” he explained.
The Diamond Studio official further added that it was imperative that artistes understand or get people that understand the meaning and types of contracts that they sign.
“Artistes at our stable choose between two types of contracts (third and first part contracts). For third part contracts, the artiste does everything ranging from recording, sleeve design and launch dates and we have little or no involvement in the processes. While for those that are directly under us, we are involved from the start to the end,” added Muroyi.