In the September 2017 instalment of Vibe.ng’s monthly digital magazines, I interviewed the G-Worldwide team and defined them as the Empire of a New Era.
Yesterday, the piece that largely qualified this definition as fact – Kiss Daniel, announced his exit, and has now floated his own label which he calls ” Fly Boy I.N.C.”.
I’m both perplexed and not surprised at the same time: Perplexed because not one part of the interview with them hinted any strife or disengagement plans but I guess this move was destined to happen sooner or later.
A careful look at the mode of record label operations in Nigeria has shown that artistes at some point, become much larger forces than these labels within which they gained major traction. Wizkid shot to unfathomable fame from EME, Tekno and Iyanya became hotshots from Triple MG, Tuface’s solo career took form in Kennis Music, Olamide broke out from Coded Tunes e.t.c…
Many times, this imbalance leads to the artistes migrating to form their personal management/label outfits, partly with the purpose of keeping the bulk of the revenue pulled in by their new found weight, cutting out label bureaucracy and all the hands that the monies pass through before receiving what ever was agreed in the contracts. This also sometimes better positions the artistes to be considered by international labels who now seek young African artistes doing well, to groom and put on larger global plinths.
So far, the pattern has been the same. Artiste blows up from label, leaves label, label slowly retrogresses while wallowing in old glory, and in more cases than one, packs up with its only worth being a wiki reference as to where its now former act began his/her career from.
Some of the only labels that are remotely viewed as stable cannot even be vouched for if their front runners decide to up and leave today. Don Jazzy definitely deserves credit for building Mavin to its current functionality (after the crash of Mohits) and signing an array of different acts show that he hopes to break the deadly cycle as pointed above but… If we take Tiwa Savage, Reekado Banks and Korede Bello out of the equation, will our dear Mavin still be the dynasty of Naija record labels?
There is no doubt that this is a huge gap in the Nigerian music ecosystem and it can definitely cost us a chunk of the “bright future” that has been predicted for our industry.
Internationally, record labels and management companies form the scaffolds that hold up the music economy and Nigeria probably has many miles to go before producing anything close to an indigenous record company that will come close to the current big three (Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music group) or their independent subsidiaries (maybe in my lifetime, honestly, maybe not). But how do we start this thousand-mile-journey by first ensuring that these labels develop into solid platforms that will not be built around one artiste and most likely go under when the act moves on?
Special shouts to the general manager of Sony Music West Africa –Michael Ugwu; who despite his hell-sent schedules, still had the time entertain my questions, offering some nuggets that can help labels wriggle out of this dead end.
He pointed out:
“Labels are doing themselves a disservice by not observing the trends and adjusting to create platforms that can outlast the creators they bring to the fore.”
He further mentioned a few steps that he believes should be taken seriously by any label that wants to be more that just a rite of passage for musicians. Still in his words, I have numbered the points below for easier digestion.
1. Finding big pockets from the get-go is one consideration.
2. Labels should organize themselves well enough when the going is good to raise decent funding. If some of these labels had say, 3 years worth of books as per accounts of financial transactions in and out. Only then can investors look at them as serious.
3. Invest in record label infrastructure.
4. At some point, joint ventures with a major label might help to encourage these big acts not to leave their primary labels.
He ended this education by saying he did not want to give away the entire playbook but that labels need to go into deep learning to find strategies that will ensure longevity and most importantly, relevance.
Back to the Kiss Daniel issue that spurred this article in the first place, I think G-Worldwide did a good job with him but what will be the label’s next course of action to stay afloat?
Kiss on the other hand, strikes me like he can do well all by himself if he works the ropes right but he might not do so without a few struggles. For instance, he will have to start from the scratch to build a Youtube channel and gather a following as G-worldwide runs a general channel that collectively houses the label’s content as opposed to having individual channels for the artistes.
Anyway, Louiza (G-worldwide artiste/communications manager) is still very stingy with information as to what exactly led to this development but as soon as she spills some official tea, you our dear Vibe readers will be the first to know.😉