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Jah Prayzah: Musician Signs Contract with Universal Music

Bulawayo - While other artistes in Zimbabwe are still mourning the fall of Gramma Records and its cousins in the major label business, Zimb...

Bulawayo - While other artistes in Zimbabwe are still mourning the fall of Gramma Records and its cousins in the major label business, Zimbabwe’s man of the moment, Jah Prayzah, has broken new ground after putting pen to paper with global music distribution giant, Universal Music.

For months, fans and detractors have speculated on how Jah went from being a phenomenon whose influence did not extend far beyond Zimbabwe to one who was now rubbing shoulders with the big boys on the continent.

While many of his contemporaries would part with an arm and a leg to get a feature from Winky D or Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah has managed to snag such continental heavyweights as Yemi Alade, Davido, Mafikizolo and Diamond Platnumz all in the space of a year.

While there is no doubting his industry as an ambitious musician, some had begun to wonder how all of sudden the nimble-footed young musician had begun to take such gigantic leaps in the world of music.

The answer to that question may lie in an agreement that Jah inked with a global music conglomerate, a deal which is still largely shrouded in mystery.
Jah Prayzah and Oliver Mtukudzi

Go to YouTube and you will find that the few songs from Kutonga Kwaro that were uploaded on the channel in the aftermath of the album’s release have disappeared. That is because Jah Prayzah is now the sole property of the South African division of Universal Music Group.

Universal Music South Africa is part of the Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 75 countries. Another giant, EMI recently became part of Universal.

While Jah’s previous albums were credited to Diamond Studios, his new project bears the unmistakable stamp of Universal Music.

Other African artistes that are signed to the global conglomerate, which is considered part of a big three along with Sony Music and Warner Music, include South Africa’s DJ Black Coffee, Mafikizolo and Tanzanian superstar Diamond Platinumz.

Globally, Universal counts such icons as Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Selina Gomez as part of its star studded roaster.

In an interview with B-Metro, Jah Prayzah’s manager Keen Mushapaidze confirmed that his charge had indeed signed with Universal Music, although he refused to dive into the finer details of the deal. He also declined to comment on whether they had been approached by other major labels.

“We don’t want to jeopardise the deal and so we will wait for Universal Music to release a statement,” said Mushapaidze.

With Jah’s camp mum on the details of what could be a potential lucrative and career changing deal for a man who is already a star, one can only speculate what signing with such a big major label means for Jah.

Record deals come in different forms but most are guided by simple principles. Contracts are legally binding agreements, enabling record companies to exploit an artiste’s work in return for royalty payments.

The recording contract will usually require the artiste to sign to the label exclusively. This means that they can’t record for another label without permission, nor can they leave the contract if they’re unhappy. If an artiste wants to make a guest appearance on another artiste’s record, they’ll need a “sideman” provision to cover this. This simply means that local artistes that want to feature Jah may need his label’s permission from now on.

When one signs to a major such as Universal, they become eligible for an advance. These are sums of money paid to the artiste on account of future royalties. They’re paid when the artiste signs to the label, and again as and when further options are exercised.

Advances are often provided as part of a recording fund, with a certain amount allocated to account for the recording costs of an album while any surplus goes into the pocket of the artist. This might explain why Jah was able to lure and work with so many heavyweights from outside the country, for the production of both songs and videos. - B-Metro

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