The Chocolate City Entertainment Company has said it invested almost N20 million on its former artiste, Ashimi Olawale Ibrahim (popularly known as Brymo), but failed to recoup up to N3 million according to court documents made available to PREMIUM TIMES.
The music label and singer have been embroiled in a legal tussle since 2013 over allegations of breach of contract.
Brymo left Chocolate City in 2013 shortly after the release of Son of A Carpenter, his debut album on the label, accusing the company of failing to promote the record.
The music company, on the other hand, said the artiste breached a five-year contract that required him to release three albums between 2011 and 2016.
In a court document deposed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Brymo (the defendant) accused his former label of short-changing him, saying he never received any advance as agreed in his contract for the development of the album Son of A Carpenter.
“The plaintiff (Chocolate City) on many occasions told the defendant that it would give him a release from the contract and then change its mind,” Brymo said.
“The defendant was never paid any royalties on the album Son of A Carpenter nor was he ever given a stated amount of the monies expended by them for the album.
“An email dated 14th May 2013 from the defendant clearly stated that the defendant is owed the sum of N925, 555.83 for the album Son of A Carpenter.”
Brymo also accused his former label of failing to employ a manager for him, transferring one they earlier gave to him to another artiste, and forcing him to single-handedly employ and pay his own manager.
“The defendant never provided a platform for it to release another album, as it did not have the means to do so,” said Brymo.
“It is based on the breach that the defendant wants to be released from the contract so he can continue with his career independent of the label.”
Chocolate City denies
Chocolate City, however, said it paid for, on Brymo’s behalf, every recording cost it authorised and for which a prior approval was sought and obtained by the singer.
The music group also said it is standard industry practice for record companies to pay for all expenses incurred during recording (paying producers, video director, dancers, and others), as opposed to giving the entire budget to the artiste.
“It is a notorious fact in Nigeria music industry that most artists will fritter away the approved budget if same is handed over to them without producing any commercially and technically satisfactory Master recordings,” Chocolate City stated in its deposition before the court.
“The artists are mostly not business inclined.
“The plaintiff avers that it has advanced and expended almost N20 million on the defendant but has not recoup (sic) up to N3 million.”
The label also accused Brymo of failure to actualise his career potential due to inability to “follow simple instructions”, insubordination, and active/passive promotion of Indian hemp which caused “serious damages to his brand and that of the plaintiff and other artists in the stable of the plaintiff”.
“The defendant’s active and passive promotion of drugs/marijuana included posting of pictures of Indian hemp/marijuana on his Twitter handle, Facebook or Instagram,” the label said.
“It got so bad that no reputable company was ready or willing to give him an endorsement deal, thereby deny (sic) himself and the plaintiff good revenue.
“In fact, a major telecommunication company in Nigeria suddenly pulled out of an endorsement deal worth N20 million which the plaintiff was negotiating for the defendant and which would have earned the plaintiff about N10 million.”
The music label denied telling Brymo it lacked the funds to produce his second album, and accused him of intentionally creating a crisis and then announcing to the public that he had become an independent artiste.
Between his exit from Chocolate City in 2013 and this year, Brymo has released three studio albums: Merchants, Dealers & Slaves (2013); Tabula Rasa (2014), and Klìtòrìs (2016).
Chocolate City said Brymo recorded and released Merchants, Dealers & Slaves despite an interim court injunction restraining him from doing so.
In the suit before Justice Babs Kuewumi, the company sought an order granting it sole and exclusive ownership of all the copyright (excluding musical composition) in the Son of A Carpenter album, as well as a single titled ‘Down.’
It also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining Brymo from breaching the terms of their Exclusive Recording Artist Agreement of 11th April, 2011, as well as N100 million as damages.
At the last hearing date on September 16, Qudus Mumuney, counsel to Brymo, argued that the suit did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court and urged the court to strike it out.
“The State High Court has exclusive to determine a dispute arising from a simple contract,” said Mr. Mumuney.
“The plaintiff’s action is frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of court process.”
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