Serani : Playing No Games with Universal Republic‏

Thursday, November 5, 2009


"its tough out there but we are remaining positive and focused on
developing Serani as an artist and a brand," said Julian Jones-
Griffith, Serani's manager, in the aftermath of shifting a little
over 1100 units first week of his debut album, No Games. "We are
lucky that we have venture partners who believe in Serani, will stay
the course and roll out a third single. They share our vision of
artist development and breaking him in new markets. When you think
how far Serani has come in terms of profile and mainstream airplay in
under 2 years as an artist its a phenomenal achievement and hes out-
paced many acts who have been on the scene for years. We're closing
in on 100,000 single downloads overall since we rolled out, which is
huge, and I'm confident we will get where we want to go."

In a climate where album sales have been culled dramatically in the
space of a few short years, everybody has felt the brunt of the
decline. Sean Paul came off the back of 4 million sold and did 28k
first week. Sony rolled out 225,000 units first week for Sean
Kingston on the strength of a huge Billboard hit and he shifted less
than 15,000. Vybz Kartel, one of Jamaica's hottest DJs, did 8 units
total first week.

"Its a grind for everybody but for a Dancehall act trying to go
mainstream there's an added fight," added Jones-Griffith. "Radio is a
problem but its compounded at retail where its almost impossible to
get product in stores. We bought ourselves out of the Universal
Republic
deal about 2 months ago and did a straight distribution deal
with Razor & Tie, who went through Sony. Sony of course just got
burnt from the 200,000 Sean Kingston returned CDs so we ended up
getting calls from all over our strong markets that the CD just wasn't
in stores for people to buy. We're presently addressing that and hope
to re-solicit the product to retail early next year. We will build
another radio story to help facilitate that and we are, as ever,
working on that."

Serani signed a 4 album deal with Universal Republic earlier this
year but quickly became unhappy with the way things were playing out.
Trusting in label partner Phase One Communications Serani and his
management agreed that the best route would be to buy themselves out
of the Uni-Republic deal and move forward as an indie. No Games was
released October 27 on Phase One Communications/Rockstone Media
Group, a company jointly owned by Serani and his manager.

"In some ways we cut too good a deal for ourselves with Universal
Republic
," remarked Jones-Griffith. "They offered us a 360 deal with
a healthy advance but knew the back- end would be minimal so we
passed on that and cut a unique distribution-with-creative-services
deal. I think Republic soon regretted that they would not be seeing
the lion's share of profit that a major is used to so we found that
we were still coming out of pocket to cover a lot of things going
forward and quickly fell off their priority list. Phase One said lets
give back Universal what they've laid out and we wont have to give up
those points to them, which made sense in the bigger picture. So we
took the brave decision to go it alone, drop the album in the 4th
quarter and keep the forward movement going. We're going with Take Me
Higher as the third single with which we will be going after Top 40."

Serani is continuing to promote No Games across the country, rounding
out his North East promotion this week with release parties in Jersey
and different demographics in New York, before heading out to the Mid
West, Atlanta, Florida and Canada. Trips to the UK and Haiti will
round out a landmark year for Serani, who will undoubtedly carry this
momentum into 2010.


*courtesy Alliance Jamaica

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