To say the music industry in Nigeria is presently booming like never before is an understatement. Many artistes are being introduced almost on weekly basis. Samuel Abulude writes on the mutual relationship between artistes and their record labels and examines why most Nigerian musicans don’t last on their record lebels
In the last ten years, Nigerian music industry experienced a
global appeal that makes other African countries grow in envy and make
international artistes want to do collaborations with their Nigerian
counterparts. This is as a result of the ability of Nigerian artistes
to infuse their traditional flair to the hip hop genre of music not forgetting
the price paid by great Nigerian artistes who brought the world’s
attention to Nigerian music and most are now reaping the fruits of
The music industry has a great potential of being bigger as
more record labels are being established to accommodate more artistes,
nurture their talent and release them to the global music world. But in
recent times, more artistes are being reported to have walked out off
their record labels in search of better and more productive labels to
expose their talents.
Artistes leaving Record labels recently
According to a report, separation usually happens in two
forms: mutual separation where an artiste sees his contract and chooses
to leave and one-sided separation where an artistes sues to leave the
record labels unceremoniously, just walking off or being dropped by the
label before the contract expires,
Since Don Jazzy and D'banj
parted ways in what we believe were amicable terms, leading to the
eventual dissolution of Mo-Hits Records, Nigerian music industry has
witnessed probably the greatest era of artistes leaving or being
dropped from their labels or management since the Storm Music Records
exodus that happened between 2005 and 2007.
B-Red was reported to have left HKN label last month. The
label belongs to Davido and his elder brother and B-Red is a cousin of
Davido. His reason for leaving was because he felt that the label was
not doing much to promote him as Davido was the only one headlining
shows under the label. But recently, he came out on a TV station to
debunk claims that he had dumped the label. Perhaps, there is
reconciliation in the offing as the artistes along with Shina Rambo
have had a sharp disagreement with Davido in recent times.
Jesse Jagz formerly of Choclocate City also recently dumped
the label and moved on to start his own Jagz Nation. Though he produced
the biggest single ever on the label (Oleku), the artiste didn’t mince
words when he announced his departure from Chocolate City Records. His
former label mates, M.I (Jude Abaga) his senior brother, Ice Prince and
Chocolate city have all spoken to show solidarity with his decision.
WizKid, one of the rising stars of Hip hop left EME label in
February in circumstances that revealed he must have being unhappy of
the treatment he received from his record label.
May D is another artiste formerly of Square Records but left
last year in unfriendly circumstances to start his own Confam
Entertainment. His signing to Square Records seemed like the perfect
match, after featuring on Chop My MoneyWith Akon and dropping some
singles on the label. He seems to fairing well after his exit.
Olamide now the toast of rappers was formerly of Coded Tunes
and managed Toni Payne Management. Along the line, things didn’t work
out and he just left and declared YNBL Nation without announcing
officially of his reason for leaving Coded Tunes managed by ID Cabasa.
Now his own boss, leading YBNL Nation and managed by Tony Nwakalor
Management, his decision has paid off.
The list goes on and on. What of Eva Alordia formerly of Trybe
She is one of the most promising female rappers in Nigeria.
The label released a press statement dropping her without her releasing
anything with them.
YemiAlade is another artiste who was signed under Jus’ Kiddin’
Entertainment and has moved on to pitch her tent with Effizzy
Entertainment. Since then Yemi has gone ahead to drop different songs
and videos, and is currently gearing to drop her Debut Mixtape on her
Record labels and their interests
According to Wikipaedia, there are at least seven dominant
Records labels in Nigeria and they include Kennis Music Alapomeji
Records owned by 9ice, Choclolate City headed by AuduMaikori,
Independent Entertainment owned by Faze of the famed PlantashunBoiz,
KayCee Records, Yaak Entertainment and Marvin Records. But with the
emergence of newer artistes, more Record labels are being churned.
There is Empire Mates Entertainment EME label owned by Banky W
and TundeDemuren, HKN label owned by Davido and his brother Wale
Adeleke, Hypertek Records owned by Tu Face Idibia. DB Records, the new
record label floated by D Banj has Kayswitch, his brother, a Ghanaian
artiste and another American under the label.
A record label normally signs a contract with an artiste and
it is documented. Part of the function of this record label is to
nurture the talent of the artistes signed under them and project them
to the industry. When this is done and the artistes become a commercial
success, both definitely smile to the bank. It is when the artistes do
not realize their goals under the label that is where the conflict
An entertainment lawyer, Barrister Akinyemi noted that the
terms of the contract depend on the label who determines the worth of
the artiste as at that time. “The recording label determines the
artiste’s worth in their own estimation. A record label is normally
aimed at developing the talent of an artiste and weighs his contract by
it. Depending on the level of his literacy, the deal can be 70-30
talking about the sharing formula of how much they make from the
But if the artistes negotiate well, the recording contract can
be 60-40 which talks about his entitlement. (The record label takes the
higher percentage while the artiste has the remaining percentage). If
it is not 60-40, then it is 55-45 which is the standard in developed
countries”, says Akinyemi. He added that artistes normally walk out
their contract when they feel the label they signed under is not doing
enough to promote them.
Kenny Ogungbe is a veteran in the music industry. The CEO of
Kennis Music who has helped the careers of various artistes notably Tu
Face, OJB, Tony Tetuila, Faze and others remarked that there are some
record labels that are not supposed to be in the industry because they
lie to the artistes and promise them heaven and earth that they cannot
Why an artiste may dump his record label
A lot of factors come into play that makes musical artistes
not to last in Record Labels. The artistes involved either walk out of
the contract they have with their record labels or the Record labels
terminate the existing contract that they have with their artistes.
Most artistes dump their record label when what they expect
from the label is not commensurate to what they ultimately get from it.
On the other hand the company can also terminate the contract when the
artistes in focus do not live up to their expectation.
According to Barrister Akinyemi, most artistes get frustrated
when they don’t see the record label they signed to doing much for
them. He said, “Most of the time, it centres on the expectation on
either the part of the artiste or the owner of the Record label. If the
record label does not live up to the expectation of the musician, say
in three year, they promise him or her an album and a concert tour to
follow but the label does not live up to the promise, this can make the
artiste to leave the record labels and you can see a lot of this
happening in our music industry.
“Another issue from the point of the musician is when you are
not promoting my music; you are not ensuring my productions are coming
out in commensurate to what the artiste feels he can offer. This can
cause the artistes to walk out on his existing contract because he
feels another company can offer him what he desires.”
Lack of trust
Like all business deals, lack of trust between either parties
or more naturally lead disengagement. Sometimes the label may have one
artiste that generates money and that may make them nonchalant and less
interested in the fostering and development of other artistes on the
label. That will definitely become a problem eventually for the label
and see protests from the neglected artistes.
Entertainment lawyer, Barrister Akinyemi elaborating on this
noted that record labels ought to help the artiste to develop before
moving to the next level. “It behooves the recording label to help the
artistes to realize his potentials before moving to the next level.
Some recording labels and doing just fine but some can be said to be
reaping of their talented artistes and this breeds lack of trust which
in turn causes conflict that makes a musician to leave his record label
or seek to terminate his recording contract due to one reason or the
other “, he noted
The Issue of Money
With more money comes more problems, another factor, loyalty
and money and inversely proportional to each other, and with the kind
of money the Industry generates now, its quite hard for an Artiste to
remain loyal to a label that doesn’t generate money for him, all in
all, different factors have led to this, and I think it’s going to
happen more and more in years to come.
Akinyemi says that an artiste who feels cheated would dump his
label for another. “The major issue confronting many record labels in
Nigeria is the issue of money and how much, the artiste is suppose to
make from his work and this is based on the pre-existing contract if
there is any. If an artiste feels being cheated, he may get to the
point that he has no choice than to walk out of the record label that
he or she is involved with.
On the other side, the record label can deem it fit to
terminate the contract with the musician if they have a reason to doubt
his loyalty to the company like any corporate firm. This happens a lot
in our music industry and the onus is on the artiste to be loyal to his
or her record label as long as she is bound to an existing contract
with the label.