Veteran dancehall artiste Sniper Storm recently hogged headlines after an audio recording of a phone call between him and a promotion outfit known as 2 Kings Entertainment leaked online and went viral.
In the audio clip Sniper was given a condition to accept a paltry payment of $50, if he wanted to open for Jamaican superstar Jah Cure.
The audio has been the centre of discussion on the internet and in the entertainment circles with some castigating the promoters for treating the “Love Yemusoja” hit-maker in a “demeaning manner”.
Sniper Storm, real name Donald Chirisa decided to break his silence on the matter in an interview in which he explained the circumstances surrounding the audio clip.
“From our investigation, the clip was sent by my management to the promoters in a bid to talk the issue with them after I had informed them of the treatment I had received, we are not sure of how it ended up in the public domain,” Sniper said.
He expressed regret over the fact that his private conversations had made their way into the public domain.
“I am not comfortable with my private business being aired to the public. We suspected that the clip may have leaked from the promoter’s end but we are not sure of what really transpired,” he said.
Some have questioned the appropriateness of his approach to business, the standard practice is that the manager negotiates gigs while the artist focuses on the creative aspect of the business.
In the clip, Sniper was soliciting the performance on his own, an action he is unashamed about.
“Even the President of the country travels to other countries to try and open up areas of cooperation with other like-minded countries. So why can`t I do the same for my family and band?” an unapologetic Sniper said.
Some commentators have accused Sniper`s camp of leaking the audio to prop up their recently released album titled “Shoot”, claims which the chanter refuted.
“In the 16 years that we have been in this music industry, we have never employed dirty tactics. If we release an album and the people are not warming up to it, we go back to the studio to put in more work.
My phone records all phone calls, it is a standard feature I have no problems with since it helps in terms of transparency,” he said.
Sniper said despite the negative traction the clip drew, he is glad that it served as service announcement to promoters that he will not be accepting raw deals.
“One statement that came out of the clip is that we are not cheap to that extent, this is why we could not entertain the idea.
“I just wish that their communication style was more civil, it seemed as if they were out to spite instead of clearly telling me that they could not accommodate me on their roaster,” said Sniper of the innuendos used by the promoters.
However 2 Kings Entertainment, has since explained their situation, saying they had a tight budget and could not include any extra artists, who were not part of those selected by fans, through a voting system.
The explanation however has not pacified several artistes who remained convinced that the action from the promoters was not appropriate.
Award winning hip hop personality Prince “Noble Stylz” Butawo has been one of the artistes expressing displeasure with the way Sniper was treated.
“We need to take steps to advocate for local artists welfare especially when it comes to international shows where local artistes are getting treated as second class citizens on their own turf,” Butawo said.
He has joined hands with a number of musicians and industry personnel who intend to take action against what they term as “disrespect of local artists.”
“2Kings showed gross disrespect in the way they handled Sniper, the respect is key here, this trend will not stop until artists say enough,” he said.
Butawo says artistes like Nox, Karizma, Qounfuzed, 8L and star producer Oskid have joined in on the drive to ensure local artistes are treated better.
“We are working on a document that will be backed by petition to be submitted to the National Arts Council on a set of issues we need addressed,” added Butawo.
After the petition is successfully submitted, there is a possibility of an artiste independent board being established as they feel let down by the existing authorities.
The challenge of artistes demanding respect from promoters is not exclusive to Zimbabwe. South African rapper AKA went on a rant refusing to perform for any international acts unless he gets equal payment and treatment.