Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Managing artistes, a risky investment?

Published:Sunday | March 31, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon-Contributed
Marcia Griffiths -Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

Shane Brown, Busy Signal split begs the question

Davina Henry, Staff Reporter

Coming on the heels of the Busy Signal and Shane Brown split, the consensus among managers is that artistes are sometimes ungrateful.

After managing Busy Signal's career from 2007, it came as a surprise to Brown when he was axed by the artiste.

To make matters worse, Brown says he was not told by Busy Signal that he was no longer needed. Busy had, instead, instructed his brother to deliver the message.

"Busy Signal is ungrateful. When you look at where we took Busy Signal's career from - out of the dirt - and we made his brand a more polished brand. He is ungrateful. Busy's situation is also very unique because when he was arrested and taken abroad, I took six months off and did nothing else so that Busy could return to Jamaica. I invested in him personally, because I owed it to him as his manager and friend to get him back to Jamaica. Busy Signal is doing interviews, saying that Shane Brown is the best. Him a behave like nutt'n nuh happen, like him is a mad man," Brown said.

With reports surfacing that there was no written contract between them, Brown stated that the verbal agreement they had was legally binding in court.

"I did management studies and part of that is law. My lawyers can tell you how mi stay. I am not a careless person. We had a verbal agreement that is public knowledge. That stands in the court of law. My lawyer already gave him a memorandum of understanding, which he has signed," Brown said.

When questioned whether he would ever manage Busy Signal's career again, or even work with the artiste, Brown said, "I don't go back. I go forward positively."

"Busy's brothers have no affiliation with the business. They are not musically inclined. They seek advice from me, and I give it to them. Busy gone Europe and they were asking my advice on things, and I helped them same way," Brown said.

For him, the business of music is a spiritual one where a connection has to be made.

"Music is very spiritual. I don't produce people because dem a run di place. If me and somebody not connected like that, then mi cyaah work wid you."

Though many believe that contracts are the best option, Brown states that contracts will not stop artistes from being ungrateful. "Contractual agreement don't bar ungratefulness," he said.

But while Brown believes that verbal agreements can sometimes work in the favour of the manager, Donovan Germain begs to differ.

Germain, the CEO of Penthouse Studios, has managed several artistes over the years, including Buju Banton (who Germain had more Jamaican number-one singles with than any other artiste), Mad Cobra, Cutty Ranks, Morgan Heritage, Wayne Wonder, and Beres Hammond.

"Artistes are ungrateful. But one of the problems is that we are a bit too informal. We need to have iron-clad agreements with artistes that include residuals after they part ways. Dem cyaah just kick you to the curb and gone 'bout dem business with no recourse. When you have these contracts, it mean say when dem ready to leave, they know the ramifications of what they are doing," Germain said.

He went on to say that when artistes feel they have 'made it', in their eyes, the value of the manager begins to diminish.

"These artistes don't understand that their success involves the engineer, the producer, the background vocals, etc. Dem think is dem alone achieve the success."


Although he would not comment on whether he believes Buju Banton's career has bettered since he left Penthouse, Germain believes that many artistes who have left their original managers have lost their way.

"I won't be judgmental on Buju's career because I don't have the sales of what he did after he left Penthouse, but I know that every single artiste that leaves their original managers, dem career just pitter down to nothing. All the statistics is there to collaborate what I am saying," Germain told The Sunday Gleaner.

Germain admits that he has no qualms with artistes wanting to move on, as long as they do so in a professional manner.

"Buju Banton wanted to leave and form his own company. I don't have a problem with people moving on. The problem is when they end up maligning you to make you look bad. After a while, the artistes don't want to pay the 20 per cent, so dem will get a friend, or dem brother, to manage them because they don't have to pay these people because of the 'personal-ness' of the relationship. Move on if you want to move on, but don't diminish people's value in the process," said Germain.

Reggae artiste Marcia Griffiths also sided with the managers. According to her, some artistes are indeed ungrateful.

"Whether they are conscious of the fact that they are or not, ungrateful is ungrateful. In this time and age, it is hard to find a good manager and person that you can trust and work with ... . Managers need to have agreements with artistes because no one knows what tomorrow may bring.

"A lot of artistes get carried away and do some foolish things because they think they have arrived and that they have made it. I always say the same mouth that says 'hooray' says 'go away'. Most of these experiences never work out in favour of the artistes," Griffiths said.

Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon, who has managed several artistes, including Patra and Shabba Ranks, over the course of his career, also said that artistes should indeed respect the person who brings their careers forward.


"Ungrateful is a very strong word. These artistes should respect the past to assure the future. If you want to go, then go. Some artistes want to manage themselves, but that is where they damage themselves. They don't understand how much energy, time and money was spent to put their careers where it is now. I don't know 'bout anybody else, but when artistes leave, dem haffi pay me," Specialist said.

When asked if he believes that Shabba Ranks and Patra's careers had blossomed since leaving his camp, Specialist replied:

"Find dem first, where are they now? When they were with me, they were on top of Billboard charts, but now, you don't even see them on a billboard on a light post. Does that tell you something?"

Specialist also told The Sunday Gleaner that there are several solutions that managers can put in place to secure themselves. These include making sure that there is paperwork in place, and being careful of who they decide to manage.

"If you manage the wrong person, you can cause damage to yourself as a manager," he said.

Specialist went on to say he would never manage Shabba Ranks and Patra again but that if they wanted a good word of advice, he would give it to them so that they wouldn't make the same mistakes.

"If I could say something to Shabba and Patra, I would tell them that I wish them all the best, may God keep them safe, and good luck in their careers. A song for them to listen to is Cheerleader by Omi. That shows that I am still relevant. They can also listen to Kingston Town by my artiste Alborosie. He's always touring. Check the YouTube views, too. I'm out," Specialist said.