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Alsina: Time to Testify

He gave us “Testimony” in 2014 and August Alsina will have to “Testify” for us once more, this time in Miami Dade County courthouse to defend allegations of breach of contract, tortious interference and unjust enrichment by former management company, Dynasty Management, LLC. In September of 2009, Alsina’s mother, Sheila Sanders, signed Alsina to an exclusive management contract with Dynasty as his legal guardian. The terms of the management agreement granted Dynasty “the exclusive ownership of all right, title and interest throughout the universe in and to the results and proceeds of Alsina's works created during the duration of the management contract” and entitled them to fifteen percent of all Alsina’s profits. During the term of the agreement, Dynasty claims it invested large sums of money into Alsina and promoting his records and musical career. One song in particular, “That Boy” was used to shop Alsina to various record labels.

About a month after entering the agreement, Alsina began to avoid Dynasty representatives and his mom informed him that Alsina ran away from home. Soon thereafter, Dynasty found out that Alsina signed with another management group, namely Noontime, who secured Alsina a $3 million record deal with Def Jam. In November 2013, Dynasty had the writer and producer of “That Boy” to re-record the song with other artists, leaving Alsina’s vocals on the chorus. The song was also retitled “I’m That Boy” and featured artist Carlson Pierre and Marc Arthur Geffard pka “Zoe Budha”. Dynasty entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Ditto Music Ltd.. Ditto distributed the song to Spotify and iTunes; and it received over 11,000 streams on Spotify alone.

The following May, Ditto received a “Cease and Desist” demand letter from Def Jam threatening legal repercussions if Ditto did not comply with their demand to cease distributing the song. In response to the demand, Dynasty provided Ditto with a licensing agreement demonstrating they had the rights to release and distribute the song, but Ditto removed the song from Spotify and iTunes anyway.

Dynasty believes the threat of litigation from Def Jam was a ruse to maximize their profits on Alsina’s albums “Testimony” and Downtown: Life Under the Gun and to induce Ditto into cancelling the distribution agreement with Dynasty. Well, we know the latter worked and time will tell if the former worked as well.

Artists should be more selective and careful when signing any agreement granting exclusive rights to an entity. The duration of any contract term should be as minimal as possible and the grant of rights should be even more so. It appears as though Alsina was smart about the duration of the management term but not so much about the grant of rights. It didn’t take him very long to decide to jump ship on Dynasty which leads one to wonder why he signed with them in the first place. At any rate, without seeing the contract itself and assuming Dynasty’s allegations are true, Alsina (among others) may have an uphill battle with this one.

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