State of the Music Labels, contracts, deals and business dominate Nigeria music

Always the way forward for the
industry has always ranged from
conversations on a lot of issues.
With our industry lacking the
basic foundations upon which to
build a solid collective, we have
been left with a fractured
structure that favours a very little
percentage of artistes, while
leaving the best of divergent
talents to wallow in poverty.
These conversations about the industry held
across a number of seminars, conferences,
forums, and social media. Twitter, the
microblogging platform is usually the leader of
this thought processes online, with everyone
and anyone being able to join the fray, with
the help of a hashtag and some more.
There have been conversations on a lot of
topics including artiste development, business
models, the nature of our music, our place in
the big picture of global entertainment, and
many more. These conversations are driven by
industry events and happenings. When the
Nigerian Entertainment Conference came this
year, the focus was on building a new ‘crude’ to
sustain the nation’s economy. When M.I
dropped his “Illegal Music 3” mixtape, opinions
veered towards the dying state of Nigerian
Hip-hop.
Last week, and even up to this point, the
conversations have shifted considerably to the
business relationship between artistes, labels
and their polymorphous nature. There have
been issues arising from contract breaches,
threats to life, maltreatment, disrespect and
many more.
Runtown, Milli, and Skales have dominated
the conversations, with each having their
specific demon. For Skales’ it was the
resurgence of Baseline as a music label that
have been on a hiatus after they fired their
managers Howie T and Dipo Abdul. The label
has had their up and downs, with Saeon
leaving them, Aramide having a foot out the
door, and Skales, their golden goose, making
money that never gets back to them. The label
had poured their investment into the acts,
before internal dispute took over. But they
have taken the bull by the horns, employing
legal terror to bring back their sheep into the
fold.
Runtown has had to navigate a maze of
contract details, terminations and injunctions.
He is currently battling his record label boss,
Prince Okwudili Umenyiora, and has been the
subject of two court injunctions. One from
Nigeria, the other from the USA.
Milli on his part has found his way out of his
contract at Chocolate City, but he has shed
light on a lot of happenings surrounding his
exit from the label. According to him, his
position had become unbearable after the
label led by M.I Abaga milked his talent for
other projects, but failed to release his
personal projects.
With all of these happening in the space of one
week, the conversations have reflected the
events, with many sharing their opinion. There
have even been overnight experts, springing
up at every turn, and taking sides with the best
of their thoughts and spilling these forward to
the public.
These conversations are not new, neither do
they possess novel knowledge about the
industry. What they serve to do is to paint a
picture of how far we as a collective business
need to go, to create a working utopia for the
music industry. Our episodic bouts of wisdom
can be shallow and reactionary, but it does
help to educate us all and improve on industry
brilliance.

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These conversations are needed and should be
encouraged, irrespective of the messenger.
Dirt comes from a pig, but that pig has the
potential to find diamonds. Let’s all keep the
conversations flowing.

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