In music, the struggle between artistes and record labels for creative control, ownership rights and fair treatment is an ongoing saga. Jamaican singer Etana made a bold decision to bring a private email exchange into the public’s eye, shedding light on the defiance artistes face when dealing with major record labels.
Etana, known for her soulful reggae tunes and powerful voice, shared the revealing email on her Instagram page that she received from Richard “Shams” Browne, who identified himself as an A&R at VP Records.
The email contained a proposal for the singer to contribute a song to a Christmas album by various artistes. While seemingly innocent at first glance, the email ignited flames of controversy due to the history between Etana and VP Records.
In the email, Browne acknowledged the past issues between the “I Am Not Afraid” singer and VP Records but expressed interest in working with her. He subtly acknowledged the rift and mentioned that he knew of the past legal disputes.
“The Strong One’s” response was nothing short of a scathing rebuke, as she publicly labelled Browne as a “house slave” sent by VP Records, the “slave master,” to her, the “field slave.”
Etana’s words were undoubtedly strong and symbolic, invoking historical references to the deep-rooted issues of power dynamics, exploitation, and resistance. She firmly stated that her fight with VP Records was far from over, as her legal battles were still ongoing, a fact that Browne seemed to overlook.
Additionally, she emphasised that VP Records has attempted to infringe upon her rights for over 18 years, even for works she had created before signing with them. In her Instagram caption, Etana urged Browne to reconsider his association with VP Records, highlighting the abundance of talented producers in Jamaica, including Browne’s father.
She criticised VP Records for allegedly using Jamaican law to strip artistes of their rights and profiting off their creative endeavours. Etana’s impassioned post resonated with her fans, who praised her for speaking out against the seemingly oppressive practices of major record labels.
See the post including the email and caption below:
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Richard Browne in his response, clarified that his contact with Etana was of his own volition and not directed by VP Records’ higher-ups. He expressed his love and respect for her artistry and talent, and he didn’t anticipate such a fierce reaction from her.
He tried to distance himself from the label’s controversial practices, implying that the A&Rs at VP Records independently select artistes for projects.
See a photo of Richard Browne’s response below:
The aftermath of Etana’s public post led to a chorus of support from her fans. Many emphasised that the exploitation of artistes by big labels is a longstanding issue often overlooked. Some pointed out the tendency of Jamaican artistes to hastily sign with big production companies, only to find themselves on the losing end.
This situation served as a lesson for aspiring artistes, urging them to consider maintaining their independence for as long as possible and even explore establishing their own labels.
See some of the comments below:
After the post and in a live video on her Instagram account, Etana further elaborated on the situation. She stressed that the email from Browne, though seemingly innocent, could have been used against her in court had she agreed to participate.
She underlined that past contracts stipulated that vital decisions, like album creation, had to be discussed jointly between her and the label. Hence, Browne’s unilateral approach was futile, as the label’s owner would need to be involved.
Etana remained resilient and undeterred, emphasising that she would continue to pursue her legal battle against VP Records through her attorney and the court. Her commitment to protecting her rights and creative integrity was clear. She concluded that she is determined to rise above the chaos created by such situations, focusing on her spiritual journey and growth.
See the live video below:
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