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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Contract Suit Potentially Brewing Against Hasidic Reggae Star

Matisyahu (“Matis”) is surely the only Hasidic reggae singer to regularly sell out 2,000-to-3,000-seat concert halls -- his music has been described as "dancehall without the accent."  Last week he released "Youth,” which is expected to climb the Top 10 charts. However, a lawsuit seems to be brewing after Matis recently terminated his managers.

Aaron Bisman, an NYU student, and Matthew Miller, a New School student, founded JDub, a nonprofit record label with the goal to make “innovative music that was proudly Jewish.”  Early in the venture,  Matthew Miller embraced hasidism and was rebranded as "Matisyahu," which is yiddish for Matthew.   Matis grew more devotely religious and, meanwhile, honed his reggae skills.

Bisman and Jacob Harris helped Matis set up gigs and promoted his concerts. Bisman and Harris entered into a 4-year management contract with Matis. The NY Times reports:

And while JDub has not been Matisyahu's record label for two years, Mr. Bisman and Mr. Harris had remained his managers, and Matisyahu's engagements bring in a substantial part of the company's revenue.

However, just before the release of “Youth,” Matis called Bisman and Harris and terminated their management services.

The two men said they still have nearly three years left on a four-year management contract, and are consulting with their lawyers on how to proceed. "There has to be some sort of legal action," Mr. Bisman said in an interview at the JDub offices at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University.

Bisman told the NY Times: “That is the music business, I guess.”

[Meredith R. Miller]

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