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Behind the Dispute – Billboard

More than two weeks ago, a video clip of music executive Brandon Silverstein angrily yelling into his computer at client representatives on a Zoom call began circulating around the music industry, prompting widespread curiosity and speculation over the circumstance that led to this on-camera blow up. 

Here’s what Silverstein was so upset about: His business relationship with rising English rapper LeoStayTrill, a former contestant on The Voice U.K. who is signed to Silverstein’s S10 Entertainment label.

LeoStayTrill has enjoyed some recent TikTok success with his gliding single “Honeybun,” leading to an uptick in interest from companies around the music industry. In the leaked video, Silverstein threatens to take legal action against the artist and his representatives. On the other side of the call were two managers working with the 17-year-old rapper. 

“Bro, I have tens of millions of dollars,” Silverstein says at one point. “I’ll sue you; I’ll f—ing sue your artist; I’ll f—ing sue your artist’s father. I’ll sue everybody. I’ll sue the label you sign to; I’ll sue the f—ing publisher you sign to, so shut the f— up.” 

Later he returns to this theme: “I’ll f—ing sue you for tortious interference, you f—ing idiot.” Silverstein adds, “I have 40 grand of my own f—-ing money in this f—ing project,” and that the other managers “don’t have money to litigate.” 

Silverstein, who also co-manages the Latin star Myke Towers, didn’t say in the clip what they’d be litigating. In a text viewed by Billboard, Silverstein apologized to LeoStayTrill’s representatives after the call, blamed his behavior on personal matters, and said there might be a way to potentially bring a major label into the business relationship.

In a statement to Billboard, Silverstein said that “prior to the Zoom call, a threat of physical harm was made against a member of my team” — LeoStayTrill’s managers vehemently deny this — resulting in “a heated business dispute.” “I’m not proud of losing my cool,” Silverstein’s statement continued, “but I have learned from this experience.” He declined to elaborate on the threat or comment on anything related to LeoStayTrill’s contract. 

The two men on the other side of the call were Alistair Goldsmith, co-founder and president of Chosen Music, and Ade Shonubi, who runs the management company FlyStr8. In a statement, Goldsmith said that “being spoken to in this manner is completely unacceptable. It’s never been acceptable… We won’t tolerate it and will sing from the rooftops about any abuse of power against both our artists and our team.”

The video “should not have been shared on the internet,” says Goldsmith. (He declined to comment on how it was distributed.) “It now has been, so it’s only fair to add that Brandon Silverstein immediately apologized to both Ade and myself.”

While a source close to the rapper says he’s “not happy” and “doesn’t really want to do music anymore,” LeoStayTrill’s managers also declined to comment on his contractual obligations to S10, which offers management and music publishing operations in addition to its label services. 

Heated business disputes are of course common between artist representatives and the labels they work with. A previous generation of executives sometimes even boasted about their ability to sling insults across the negotiating table. Former CBS Records head Walter Yetnikoff wrote in his memoir about “regaling [a] reporter with stories” of him “throwing plates at lawyers.” (This was confirmed to Esquire in 1986 by the music attorney Allen Grubman, who said one of those plates was hurled in his direction.)

Mores in the music industry have changed significantly since Yetnikoff ran a record company, however. And at the same time, in the social media era, more disputes between artists and labels play out partially in public, where fans and bystanders can weigh in — with little regard for facts or feelings. 

Last year, for example, Halsey accused her label, Capitol Records, of preventing her from releasing “a song that I love.” In April, Halsey and Capitol parted ways. (“We are incredibly proud of all we accomplished together, and wish Halsey the very best in all their future endeavors,” Capitol said in April.)

That same month, the Brazilian singer Anitta — who was Silverstein’s management client at the time, though they’ve since stopped working together — split with Warner Records. Her departure came not long after she lambasted her label on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “If there was a fine to pay [to extricate myself from my contract], I would have already auctioned off my organs, no matter how expensive it was to get out,” the singer wrote. (Warner declined to comment at the time but said they “wish Anitta all the best in the future” in a joint statement announcing the end of the business relationship.)

Halsey and Anitta are established artists with big hits and large global followings. In contrast, LeoStayTrill is still at the start of his career — he just turned 17. “Honeybun” recently passed the 1-million-stream threshold on Spotify; one TikTok clip using the single has amassed more than 3 million views on the platform. 

Another recent clip posted by LeoStayTrill is captioned “f*** the label.” But getting out of a deal without a star’s leverage and resources may not be so easy. In a statement, Goldsmith said that “the issue… is now being handled professionally, and in the best interests of a 17-year-old artist.”

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