It’s not a good time for Mathew Knowles’ Music World record label.
In December 2011, EURweb.com broke news that Cathy Hughes’ radio juggernaut, Radio One had banned all Music World artists and songs from appearing on their cluster of stations across the country. The ban followed a lawsuit filed by Radio One’s sister company, TV One against Music World for allegedly illegally re-issuing content from the Essence Music Festival to BET, MTV and BET’s Centric Network despite TV One’s four-year exclusivity agreement to broadcast the festival.
Music World has shifted its focus to gospel recently after its mainstream acts like Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Solange Knowles dissolved their relationship with the company. (Destiny’s Child as a group is still contractually bound to Music World if they decide to record again.)
The ban at Radio One has significantly handicapped the Houston-based record label, particularly because Radio One has a monopoly on gospel stations in the U.S. and syndicates several of the genre’s most successful shows, including the “Yolanda Adams Morning Show” and “CoCo Brother Live.”
In May, gospel singer Micah Stampley announced he was leaving the label after less than two years. Stampley released two albums on the label—2010’s “Release Me” and 2011’s “One Voice.”
Last week, gospel trio-turned-duo Trin-I-tee 5:7 announced their departure from Music World. Though their 2011 release “Angel & Chanelle” was apparently the last CD they owed the label contractually, a source told us that the group was actually planning to release one additional CD on the label prior to the announcement last week. The source disclosed to AlwaysAlist.com that an incident at the BET Awards caused them to nix that plan.
Though group members Chanelle Hayes and Angel Taylor did not detail why they opted to leave, AlwaysAList.com has learned that at this year’s BET Awards, where the group was nominated for Best Gospel Artist, the duo was left outside of the Shrine Auditorium ticket-less because “Mathew used their tickets at the last minute without telling them.” Trin-I-tee 5:7 did ultimately get into the show, but only because a BET employee came to rescue them after a “long and embarrassing” ordeal.
Now Le’Andria Johnson, one of Music World’s best-selling artists in recent years, is preparing to leave the label. Johnson, who won the third season of BET’s competition series “Sunday Best,” was signed to Music World as a part of the show’s prize package.
In the course of six months, Music World oddly released three CDs on the 29-year-old powerhouse vocalist — “The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson” (Sept. 2011), “Le’Andria Johnson Christmas” (Dec. 2011) and “The Evolution of Le’Andria Johnson” (Feb. 2012).
Additionally, despite Johnson being seven months pregnant and “with only a little notice and a short time to prepare,” Music World had Johnson do a live session in July to be released as her fourth CD. The original plan was for her to record the live record in October following the birth of her baby. The label’s new publicist just sent out a press release on Thursday about “Le’Andria Johnson: The Experience Deluxe Edition” being released on Sept. 18.
Earlier this week, Johnson took to her official Twitter page @LeAndriaJ to ask fans how they would feel about her leaving Music World. She even retweeted a her fan page’s message about the label not treating their “#1 artist” with “respect.”
PHOTO: See Le’Andria Johnson’s Twitter posts below.
AlwaysAList.com has also learned that Knowles has been putting feelers out to several top gospel labels about acquiring his Music World label. Two labels have confirmed to us that Knowles did actually contact them in an exploratory capacity, but nothing formal has transpired.
Among the artists that are still on Music World’s roster are Juanita Bynum, Brian Courtney Wilson, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and “Sunday Best” stars Amber Bullock, Andrea Helms, Elder Goldwire McLendon and Pastor Rudy Rasmus.
Music World has released new music by Wilson, Bullock, McLendon and Helms in recent months, but sales for those CD’s have been underwhelming because of the Radio One dispute.
The winner of the fifth season of BET’s “Sunday Best” will also apparently be signed to Music World. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you will hear that talent’s music on Radio One either.
AlwaysAList.com received e-mail directly from Mathew Knowles this afternoon and the music executive replied: “You have it backwards. We are looking to acquire other gospel labels.”
There was no additional comment on the other aspects of this story.