November 06, 2009
NO GAMES RELEASED WITHOUT UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC
"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 wasnt 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.