Recently we have been receiving several briefs from record label owners and artiste management companies claiming artistes going rogue or refusing to renew his/her contract with the company despite renewal clause included in contract, and labels seeking to sue to claim monies spent on the artiste.
On the other hand, artistes are claiming labels have offered them nothing productive to their career as it has been stagnant despite monies spent or instances of label having favorite artistes in the label to the detriment of other artistes in the label.
Let me first say that this article is in no way directed at any individual, group, brand or company. It is strictly a critique of the current state of affairs in the Nigerian Music Industry.
Who is an Artiste and what does (s)he do?
By Webster dictionary definition, “an artiste is a skilled adept public performer; specifically: a musical or theatrical entertainer”.
For the purpose of this article, an artiste is one who ensures that (s)he makes music for the consumption of people. S(he) puts in the best of work, at all times, to release creative content.
What is a Record Label?
As defined via Wikipedia, “A record label is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Often, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos; conducts talent scouting and development of new artists (“artists and repertoire” or “A&R“); and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers”.
What does the Record Label do for Artistes?
From the definition above, it is safe to say record labels are basically meant to be skilled, financially empowered and structured to do the following;
- Market and promote artistes’ catalogue
- Manage artistes’ brands
- Coordinate production
- Distribution of artistes’ catalogue to ensure sales and revenue
- Enforcement of intellectual property rights in artistes’ musical and video works, not excluding trademarked brands
- Maintain and manage artistes’ relationship with other third parties.
What Is a Trophy?
Using a Urban Dictionary definition “Something that serves no actual purpose, yet is there to make you feel big….”
This definition soothes the narrative in this article, it explains what is intended in this message.
Now the big question:
Are you a Trophy or an Artiste to your record label?
In Nigeria today, many artistes in truth and honesty are record label trophies. Many artistes are signed to labels that are clueless of what must and should be done as required of a standard record label. To be fair on the labels at least, let us agree most Nigeria record labels know how to buy artistes cars and rent apartments in high–end estates which is another problem on its own.
Artistes become nannies to their contracts, waking up every day to dust and clean their contracts, record music and subsequently shoot videos to be kept as achievement or rather as a “performance fact” to claim rights to artistes’ future revenue.
Many artistes have been signed for years with huge sums of money purported to have been spent by the label with no actual record of promotion, management, distribution and or revenue stream creation. Artistes are tied to the label due to lack of ability to recoup a dime out of monies spent on artiste’s career.
Artistes need to understand that they need to hold record labels accountable for their overall responsibilities. What a label spends on you doesn’t justify your success, you need to demand that the label carry out their responsibilities with the corresponding budget spent on you.
For instance, your label is paying NGN3,000,000 for radio promotion/media buying, you need to demand:
- Which media platforms will the money to be spent on?
- How much money will be spent per platform?
- Do the platforms have the audience that will love my music (Do not push a hip-hop track on Radio Lagos, don’t be foolish)?
- What are the activities involved?
- What are the objectives?
- How do you enforce commitment to the monies received by third parties?
Before all that, from the initial negotiation of your contract before getting in bed with the label, you need to have demanded an organogram and corresponding budget for the term you will be romancing with the label.
As an artiste, your career is your sole responsibility. You must ensure that things are done the right way. You can do more than rub your palms, nod your head and lick your lips severally at meetings. Stop being a “trophy” of every day announcement by your label. You are in bed with your label for a reason, and that reason is your major concern. Except you are in bed just to sleep, then keep sleeping.
Tp ensure you can do more than be a trophy, briefly here are the things you can do if your label is clueless with funds;
- Get a manager with a “factual” and expressly written repertoire of well scored success rate Please not “I blow’d” Timaya, “I blow’d” Kiss Daniel type of managers.
- Get an Entertainment Lawyer not “Omo onile lawyer”.