A familiar wave for artistes in the Nigerian Music Industry is being an independent act operating under a self-owned label. However, this growing “in-thing” is questionable.

Are these labels valuable to the growth of the industry?
• Do artistes now need to be record label owners?
• Is it necessary for artistes to be under a major label?

Few questions to deliberate on, but here’s my opinion on this topic.

When music was produced in analogue studios, back in the day, with sound engineers and we’re quite expensive to run; The labels controlled creative, promotional, and marketing resources compared to recent times. Music creation is much simpler.

This is because of digital audio workstations, home studios, available research on music production. Also, the rise of streaming services and ground-breaking influence of social media as a tremendous means of marketing and promotions.

These factors put together have made the need for major labels seem less necessary.

But it takes a level of expertise to run a successful record label that discovers artistes, support their careers, and keep them relevant in the industry for five years or more. That an artiste found success under the umbrella of a major label in a year or two doesn’t guarantee their career surviving as an independent act, much less signing new talents to this new “independent flying” label.

This is no shade.

A couple of these independent flying labels can build into major competitive record labels. I mean, the major labels we have operating today in Nigeria didn’t just set up as majors but evolved from the bottom.

What we need to realize is there’s a line between the creative and business views of Music; the question is:

How many of these artistes have adequate knowledge around the complexity of the music business workings, to set up a solid foundation for a longstanding record label?

A key aim of any industry is to succeed. In the music industry, succeeding should mean discovering talents, birthing superstars, selling the illusion of a star to the audience for profit benefits. A great sell comes with great packaging.

Great packaging comprising A&R, audio engineers, stylists, PR & branding experts, managers, producers, forming a team revolving around the talent.

True, the industry might not exist without the artistes; But everyone flying solo labels can “in the long run” weaken the music industry. There is likely to be any significant growth outside the country, outside the African continent. This is where the big shots come in, partnering with international labels to stamp the Nigerian Music Industry on a global scale.

These partnerships have brought major wins for our domestic labels, the artistes, and the industry.

Chocolate city having an affiliation with Warner music. Jonzing world & Blowtime entertainment with Mavin records. Aristokrat records with Universal music (France). Even Burna with Atlantic records.

There’s no denying the positive impact these collaborations are having on the Nigerian Music Industry. For instance, after announcing their partnership with Universal music (France), Aristokrat group saw heavy activities from announcing Juju boy to gaining acts like Seyi Shay, Wande coal, DJ Obi to their management company.

Talk about Burna boy’s brand seeing massive international PR from affiliating with Atlantic to landing Grammy nominations.

The partnership of Jonzing world and Mavin records saw them catapult Rema to a global superstar in less than 2years.

While flying solo labels might look attractive and the “in-thing” to do, we cannot undermine the importance of having the backings of a major label. To keep the industry shinning through as it is right now, it’s important to understand the role of each element and not do it all alone.

By: Vanessa Omena

Contributor – Esbee The Songwriter

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