Right from the 90s, record labels like Kennis Music have been relevant to music creatives as they made the likes of Tubaba (formerly known as Tuface Idibia) famous.
Many other record labels have risen up since then. These record labels are mostly responsible for the exposure of many of the talented Nigerian musicians we have, and the beautiful music we’ve enjoyed in the last two decades.
Because of how useful they were in making an artist’s career grow, a lot of people began to start record labels.
In the first decade of the 2000s alone, labels like Mo’ Hits, EME, Chocolate City, Made Men Music Group, G-Worldwide Entertainment, Loveworld Records, Capitol Hills Records, Kaycee Records and many more were springing up everywhere.
Recently, however, it seems there has been a decline in how much they are needed. Whatever happened to record labels in Nigeria? This article will show you the reasons for this decline.
Role Of Record Labels
J Cole, before he became a multiple award-winning and multi-platinum selling musician, stood outside Jay-Z’s music studio for hours. He did that to give Jay-Z his music so he could sign him to his record label.
It was raining the whole time and J. Cole was soaking wet so when Jay-Z arrived and he tried to give him the CD, Jay-Z told him, “Get that *bleep* out of my face”. A year later though, Jay-Z signed him, so yaaay! Happy ending.
But what would make a person go through that just to be signed?
1. Artist Recruitment And Development:
Record labels scout for and sign new talent all the time. Whether you reach out by showing them your music or they discover your music on their own, they will sign you to their record label if you’re what their looking for.
Once you are signed to the label, you get a manager who helps the artist to improve their skill and creativity. They make sure the artist is always aware of the latest trend in music so they can always stay ahead in the competitive industry.
2. Funding and A&R Support:
Studio time costs quite a bit of money. Record labels have the finances, access to studios and producers so recording is not an issue. They pay for the artist’s music videos. Some even pay their artists. The record label takes care of the contracts and legal issues on your behalf. They negotiate the best deals for the artist.
3. Promotion And Marketing:
This is one of the most important functions of a record label. Many of the big record labels in Nigeria have relationships with the big and popular media outlets. They can create a lot of exposure for an artist and their music. Also, they have the funds to pay top publicists who can bring the music to the limelight.
Before music download and streaming was prevalent, when CDs were the major way people listened to music, record labels could get musicians songs to music stores across the country.
The Recent Decline
While Nigerian record labels are still around and are still helping musicians see their dreams of stardom come to pass, artistes are realizing that it is possible to make it without them. These are a couple of the reasons why:
1. Digital Streaming
Digital streaming of music is taking over the industry in terms of music distribution. The way the world has shifted from CDs to digital music distribution has decentralized music distribution in a way that significantly reduces the relevance of major labels.
Artistes nowadays are making it work without a label, record deal or physical record.
This is a generation that grew up on online content and they are successfully doing their own promotion, marketing, branding and, of course, recording their own music more and more at home.
2. Artistic Freedom
Record labels basically take over the life of an artiste and their music when you sign with them. Deals and decisions are made by the record labels about the artiste’s music with or without their approval.
The record labels always take a huge chunk of the artiste’s earnings. Granted, they invest a lot of money in the artiste and in pushing their music but they’ve been a lot of cases in the past where labels took advantage of musicians and left them with close to nothing.
the idea of signing over your creative freedom and a majority of your earnings is unappealing as ever.
But when an artiste is independent, they have complete control over how they want their music to be. They also have full control over distribution, marketing, artwork, messaging, deadlines, and more.
Moreover, an independent artiste has free will to make decisions about their creative vision. It’s the ideal scenario for many artistes. Independent artists keep 100% of the profits generated from music sales, streams, licensing deals, merchandise, and other revenue sources.
As more and more musicians now grow a huge following on the internet on their own, the record label era is slowly becoming obsolete.
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My name is Emmanuel Ejiga. Content lead of OG Capital
I am a writer. Technical writer, song writer, and sometimes fictional writer.