Brandy Sues to End Her ‘Commercial Bondage’

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Nineties R&B sensation Brandy quotes Prince in calling record contracts “slavery” in a lawsuit with which she seeks to break free of the record label she claims put her career in “commercial bondage.”
     The introduction to Brandy Norwood’s July 18 complaint harkens back to the late music icon’s comments to journalists at his Paisley Park Studios in August 2015. At the time he declared “Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word — slavery” and “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.”
     At the news conference, Prince also talked up the artist-friendly, newly-launched Tidal streaming service and trashed radio giant Clear Channel as a middleman.
     The lawsuit, filed in New York County Supreme Court, likens Brandy’s “commercial bondage” to the now well-known contractual ordeal endured by Kesha; calling Brandy Norwood’s story “”Kesha Redux,” but without the sex.”
     Prince famously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993, appearing in public around the same time with the word “SLAVE” scrawled across his cheek. In a Rolling Stone interview at the time, Prince proclaimed “If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”
     Brandy seeks a court declaration that she is contractually freed from Chameleon Entertainment Group, and that they are also obligated to compensate her for at least $270,000 in
     guaranteed compensation and “pay or play” fees.
     The lawsuit alleges that since 2013, Chameleon refused to pay the $60,000 portion of the Recording Fund (10% of the minimum guaranteed $600,000) for production of Brandy’s second album for Chameleon (a follow-up to 2012’s “Two Eleven”) and instead Chameleon pressured Brandy to enter into an all-encompassing “360 deal” with Epic Records.
     Chameleon CEO Breyon Prescott stood to benefit from the Epic deal, as he was Epic’s Head of Urban A&R at the time and could anticipate bonuses and other compensation from the arrangement, the complaint says.
     The proposed “360 deal” Chameleon pressured Brandy to sign would have caused her to relinquish 15% of her income to Epic, drawing from Brandy’s “concerts, acting and Broadway roles, TV appearances, name and likeness deals, merchandise and other businesses she spent decades successfully cultivating long before she ever met [Chameleon Entertainment Group and Breyon Prescott].”
     Brandy refused to be bullied into the “360 deal” despite Chameleon’s false claim that it was the best deal she could get.
     The lawsuit claims that Chameleon Entertainment also refused to pay the singer an obligatory “master payment,” in the amount of 35% of the minimum recording fund, or $210,000, repudiating their agreement.
     The lawsuit refers to Chameleon Entertainment Group as “barely a functioning record label” that distributes its recordings through third party record distribution companies.
     According to the lawsuit, Chameleon forced Brandy into commercial limbo that “has negatively impacted her ability to successfully book tours and other live engagements.”
     In January, Brandy released a single entitled “Beggin and Pleadinon her own label, Slayana Records.
     Chameleon Entertainment Group also works with Jamie Foxx, 90’s R&B group Jodeci and South African newcomer Nikki Williams.
     Brandy Norwood is represented by Meloni & McCaffrey, P.C in New York City.
     A spokesperson for Chameleon CEO Breyon Prescott, who is representing the label, responded to the lawsuit by saying “Once again Brandy has succumbed to desperate measures by attacking my clients instead of facing the reality of her current status.
     “Last week, a judge in California dismissed her first attempt to drum up publicity at the expense of my clients; and now she has resorted to filing additional claims in the state of New York,” the spokesperson told Courthouse News.
     “Her reckless words and accusations that she entered into a contract that is comparable to slavery, given the current state of the country, are irresponsible and a flat out lies,” she continued. “Brandy and her lawyer reviewed and accepted an agreement with Chameleon. Chameleon used their leverage to secure a distribution deal for her, which has been on the table for 2 years; Brandy, still under contract with Chameleon, has refused to sign the deal that would secure her distribution and funding for future projects.
     “Taking a risk by signing an artist that hasn’t had significant chart success since the early 2000’s, Chameleon and its CEO Breyon Prescott are disappointed that Brandy has resorted to conjuring fictitious accusations instead of constructively discussing her contractual concerns or status with a company and the colleague that she once stated as her biggest supporter,” the spokesperson said.
     “Chameleon’s overall goal has always been and will remain, to produce and manage solid creative music acts for people all over the world to enjoy. Mr. Prescott wishes nothing but the best for Brandy and continues to state that her talent overall should overshadow any present day disputes.”

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