Thursday, August 26, 2010

Death of the RECORD LABEL & rise of the MUSIC FAMILY

Once upon a time before an artiste can set out to have a successful musical career, s/he must first have to secure a recording contract with a corporate or influential recording label which most times do not come easily. Since it is only through such process an artiste can adequately be rewarded for his/her talent. Corporate recording companies have always enjoyed that exclusive arrangement and network required to properly manage and market an artiste through established relationship they have with standard recording studio outfits, major distribution companies, a  network of other corporate organizations, media outfits coupled with their strong legal connections and many other advantages.

With such leverage in the industry, any artiste on their bill is sure to be highly compensated but this has not always been the case because a lot of these record labels have a reputation for manipulating contractual agreement thus shortchanging artistes. This has led to series of conflicts and court cases with notable examples including, the pop sensation George Michael and Sony records dispute, Mase and Bad boy records company saga, the rap trio the Lox versus the same Bad Boy records and many others.

A case in point in Nigeria is the Question Mark record label dispute with a host of its artistes and the recently publicized feud between Kennis Music and its one time protégé Kelly handsome just to name a few. But recently, ever since the improvement of production technology which has made it cheaper and easier for any individual to set up a studio in the comfort of their rooms and the ease in making such studio work available to a wide audience via online social media networks, a new form of label/artiste management has evolved with a mode of operation quite different from that which existed before.

There now seem to be a gradual shift away from the slave/master relationship which hitherto existed between CEOs and artistes into a modified form which can be likened to some sort of partnership/bonding between parties and this can be characteristically regarded as a ‘Music Family. Unlike the high level of unfairness which characterized contractual relationship between artistes and CEOs  in most corporate record companies, benefits in this case are satisfactorily shared in line with the mutual agreement reached between both parties and they extend beyond proceeds from music sales alone to cover other areas such as performance fees, endorsements deals, merchandizing revenue and so on.

This new artiste management model has been found to contribute positively to the overall creativity and development of artistes due to the re-assuring atmosphere it creates which reduces the possibility of conflicts in the same vein, creating room for more successful projects. A good example of this is the young money/cash money label, Aftermath/ shady/G-unit, Roc Nation and of course in Nigeria we have Don Jazzy’s Mo- Hits records, Jude Okoye’s Square records. These two have been the Nigerian pioneers of this new ‘Music Family’ business venture. The strong bond that exist between artistes and their CEOs where the latter more often than not doubles as the producer and executive producers has been the reason for the continuous success of the “Music family’ as its the case with the two. 

The fact that the boss & employee on both labels respectively share an informal relationship amongst each other and also spend most of their time together gives room for a very high level of creativity. This togetherness enables them to look out for each other helping each other to avoid scandals which might negatively affect their public image, which potentially could discourage endorsements from corporate organizations that place high premium on an artiste’s public perception. On the heels of the success of these two labels similar music families are now fast on the rise, examples of such are Rogba’s  Knight House Family,  Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City, Clarence Peter’s Capital Hill, Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment, Terry G’s House of Ginjah just to mention a few. Already a lot of these music families have started making great strides in the industry establishing the effectiveness of this new model of artiste management. Entry cost for these management labels is usually low in monetary terms but high in technical and managerial know-how, because in spite of the informal outlook these labels possess, a considerable level of skill is required to successfully harness the music production and artiste management sections of the family.

This necessitates the importance of a skilled ‘leader’ … the CEO as obtained in the ‘slave/master’ record company model.  But the major difference with the “music family” model is that the leader unlike the former do not take decisions without consulting duly with other associates involved  hence, the reason for the continuous success of the music family.  So, if an artiste can be treated with respect and regarded as an important business partner, such understanding without a doubt can only help to serve the best interest of parties involved and of the record label as a unit.

1 comment:

  1. this is so true....majorly because the music world like every aspect of human endeavor is evolving. times are changing and so to meet up, people have to change with it.