Top Record Labels In Nigeria: What Makes Them Tick


Record labels are the platforms which help artistes make their songs reach the public faster, thus making financial gains. In this report, SAMUEL ABULUDE looks at the success story of top record labels in Nigeria.

Record Labels
The nation is known for abundant human resources and in the entertainment sectors, this is evident. Nigerian artistes to a large extent have done well for themselves. Even without a proper structure, musicians in this clime have endured and recorded songs under harsh conditions and a system that makes them do everything to churn out hit songs and also market them.
The entertainment industry lost many record labels and music publishing houses in the early 90s during the military era. Nature indeed harbours no vacuum. With different genres of music existing in Nigeria and thousands of artistes, local, state and regional, scores of record labels and marketers must fill the void to produce and market the songs which the artistes record. With the advent of hip hop music in Nigeria, and the success thereof, more opportunities opened up for singers and would-be singers.
The MARVIN Music is worthy of mention. After the collapse of Mo’Hits Music label, the co-owner, Don Jazzy re-invented the label to house the remaining artistes of the former label and attract new ones. The founder who’s a music producer himself enrolled Tiwa Savage and three young singers to have six musicians namely Dr Sid, D Prince, Rekardo Banks, Korede Bello and D’Ija.

Other record labels and their artistes:

YBNL: Olamide. Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, Viktor, DJ Enimoney
Chocolate City: MI, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Victoria Kimani, Ruby Gyang, DJ Lambo, Koke,
Loose Canyon, Milli, Dice Ailes and DJ Caise
Hypertek Records: Tu Face, Dammy Krane
Square Records: P Square
PREMIER MUSIC Nigeria: Sunny Neji and other
CAMP: Cobhams, Bez and others
HKN Records: Davido, B Red, Shina Rambo, Danagog, others
Triple MG: Iyanya, Selebobo, Tekno
EME: Banky W, Niyola, Shaydee, DJ Exclusive
DB Records: D’Banj, Kayswitch, Tonto Dikeh and others
Capital Hill Records: Illbliss, Chidinma, Da Suspect, Fefe and Mz Kizz
Kennis Music: Jo El, KSB
Five Star Music: Kcee, HarrySong, Skiibi
StarBoy Records: Wizkid and Lax
Baseline Music: Skales, Aramide
X3 Music: Praiz, Simi

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Creating Enabling Environment For Record Labels
The advent of the internet and multi-media has led some successful artists to form their own labels and/or music publishing companies and work with larger labels for distribution. In this clime, musicians have made use of the multi-media to push their works into the market. Record labels are generally responsible for: developing the artist, working with producers, paying for and arranging studio time, mixing, mastering, graphics, packaging, distribution, and marketing. The most important and most expensive of these services is marketing. Getting the word out to the masses is paramount to a successful album. Because of this an artiste will fare better with a record label performing these tasks for him or her. The record label owns the master and all associated rights under a sound recording copyright. The contract between the Artist and the Record Label usually stipulates that the Artist is paid a percentage of net sales from all sources. Due to the under development of the business of entertainment, a lot of things have left not adhered to. Nigerian artistes don’t honour contracts and the record labels don’t perform all their functions. Many artistes for lack of major record labels in the country soldier on and do some things for themselves and bear many costs ultimately creating their own music company fashioned to cater for them alone. Some artistes who create theirs sign on other artistes but because the label is fashioned to cater for them alone, the artistes suffer.

Puffy Tee, a reputable music producer says that a lot of people don’t know how record label functions and therefore just do what they know. He added that the music industry in Nigeria is still in its toddling stage and more professionals are needed. “In Nigeria, an artiste worry over everything, he spends countless hours in the studio recording songs hoping it will be accepted by the people to become a hit. The same artiste looks out for organisers of shows hoping that he‘ll be patronized. He’ll probably borrow his friend’s car or hire a cab to look okay and accepted at the show. The same artiste worries about getting companies to mass produce CDs of his song. Nigerian artistes do so much hoping they‘ll hammer one day and get the attention of the few record labels acceptable. This doesn’t work like this in order climes. Few record labels operate as proper record labels, ” says Puffy Tee who produce Yahooze by Olumide Maintain.

Veteran artiste Daddy Fresh of decades of experience says, it behoves of the government to make the country safe for international labels to invest in the music industry. The dance hall artiste said, “All the major record labels left the country when the environment was not conducive again for their survival. I floated my own label called FRESH Records. So our government should help attract investors in music and entertainment if they want it to grow. Imagine we have not been able to tack piracy for long and this has hindered the distribution of our music. There is no artiste that has been around that has not suffered from piracy. We now live on show and businesses we invest our money into. We don’t make much from our songs. Yes itunes is there for people to buy our songs but how many people purchase them from itunes. COSON, a collecting management society gets royalties for us but it can be better,”says Michael Onyebuchi popularly called Daddy Fresh.

Nigerian Artistes Thrive Without Record Labels
There are major record labels and Independent labels called Inde. The major record label can cater for diversity of artistes and also in distribution (marketing) which the inde labels may not. In Nigeria, It can be said that Inde labels exist more. The argument has always been, can an artiste survive without record labels? In the Nigerian context, Yes! But in the long run, No! A lot of hip hop artistes have risen to fame without a record label and later they formed theirs.
At last year’s Nigeria Entertainment Conference NEC facilitated by BHM, a session was held on ‘Record labels: How Viable?’ The session was facilitated by the president of Chocolate City, MI (Jude Abaga) and Osagie Alonge of Pulse as to argue against. MI from his experience as former VP, using the success of the record label noted that an artiste cannot function without a record label as it is a house of different departments that cater for the needs of the artistes with the success of the artistes to make money into the record label in mind. With an analogy, MI said that if Record labels function the way they ought to function, artistes will be better off for it. Osagie countered that the likes of Olamide, Patonrankin and others have triumphed without a record label. He added that the structure of labels in Nigeria sometimes don’t work for the artiste, it works solely for the gain of the labels.

From their examples, they are both right. In a sane clime, a record label works for the artistes and when the artistes succeed both smile to the bank. Contracts are honoured. But here, we see a lot of artistes dishonouring contracts. Olamide was able to make a success in him because of the way he learnt the ropes and gleaning on the experience of those who managed him. According to the rapper, he practically slept for years, learning a lot in the studio of ID Cabasa, owner of CODED Tunes at Bariga and producer of Gongo So by 9ice. This may also be the testimony of other young artistes with the hunger to succeed. Tuface Idibia and Wizkid surely benefitted from their former record labels, Kennis Music and Empire Mates Entertainment (EME), respectively, before calling it quits. Korede Bello, Rekardo Banks and D’Ija could not have assumed this success within a year if they were on their own. A team and management will always excel more than the effort of one. Perhaps that explains why Tuface has succeeded above his mate, Faze and Black Face working with Kennis Music and now the expertise of Efe Omoregbe of Now Muzik.

Music Publishing Companies Needed In Nigeria
Music publishing company is generally responsible for marketing the works of artistes to record labels, other artists, advertising agencies and production companies on behalf of the artistes. Music publishing companies and artists enter into a contract where the artist agrees to transfer all rights of a Work to the music publishing company for a specific period of time. The standard terms are 50 per cent to the artist and 50 per cent to the publishing company. If the Work is not licensed at end of term, and the contract is not renewed, all rights revert back to the artist. Do we have publishing companies where performing rights, mechanical rights and others are forms of royalties are gotten for the artistes? Your answer is good as mine. As the industry develops and it will, these companies will be needed for all professionals within the industry to make money. According to a source, music producers are also fighting for their rights and yearning to form a music publishing company so that their beats and sounds will also yield investments.

The northern part of Nigeria is in dire need of Record labels and music companies and investors will need to be attracted to the region. As our economy bounces back and security of lives and properties is guaranteed all this will take shape. Artistes that create their own labels will knock off and allow major record labels to manage their works and creativity.

Source: Leadership Newspaper

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