Dear Label Owner,

I am writing you this letter to offer you advise, with regards to your resolve to sign new talents.

I acknowledge that you are new to the music industry and know it is best you entertain my ideas before any signing is done.

To be successful as an executive or investor in the music business, your understanding of Risk, Return on Investment, Marketing, Promotion, and acquiring timeless Copyrights will be the ultimate decider of your fate. 

I have worked as talent manager, publicist, and blogger. I currently work as an entertainment lawyer. The last decade has offered me first hand experience of the music industry in Nigeria. In addition, I have helped sign about a hundred Nigerian talents to different types of label situations.

My advice is specific to signing a new pop star or mainstream entertainer. Not necessarily applicable to career musicians who do not aspire to be pop stars.

I do not believe that my thoughts are infallible. Rather, they are informed by certain factors mentioned below.

I am opposed to signing a total novice who has not come into his own. I believe the investment in these type of artists rarely yield benefits.

1.   Please, drop your emotions at the door. Your artist must be special and must have demonstrated that before you met him. There are thousands of talented artists in Nigeria who are also deserving of an opportunity to get more support in finance and other resources. I think it is best to sign an artist who has conquered obscurity and is already on a journey to prominence. This is the perfect example of PROOF OF CONCEPT. These type of artists must already have a following in their school, church, neighborhood, online, hometown, etc. They must also have thousands of people checking for their music online and offline.

2.  The artist must have also invested in themselves, created a body of work, shot videos with their own money, taken professional pictures, even created active social media platforms. Has he hosted his own personal show before? How many people attended the show? Everything he has done in the last 2/3 years should be on a scorecard.

3.   Before your offer of a deal, the artist must have had a routine that optimizes his creativity. It helps if he produces his own music and writes his own songs? What is his productivity like? How many demo tracks can he create in a month? Does he have an archive of dope materials already created?

Does he have people who already believe in his craft? Does he have consistent collaborators, like record producers, filmmakers?

4.   What useful relationships has he built over the years? In and out of the music business. Does he know taste-makers like OAPs, Bloggers, DJs, Record Producers, Concert promoters, Music Journalists, Club promoters? Do they care for him? After signing, all these relationships can help propel him to the next level. It is not cheap to introduce a totally fresh new artist.

5.   Does he have a unique identity? A strong brand is needed to excite buyers of music and entertainment products. His looks, his voice, his live performances, the way he dresses, his humor, those he associates with, and the message in his music defines him. This would guarantee whether he would be able to stand out in a crowded market place.

6.   Does the artist understand the use of social media, and the concept of marketing his talent, and brand? The world is moving very fast. We are in the era of viral videos, memes, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and going viral.

7.   Is The talent hardworking and consistent? You can't sign a talent that does not crave success more than the label wants it.

8.   Does the artist have the mental strength to patiently work on set goals? So many talents lack the sophistication needed to stay focused on set goals.

9.  How young is he? Age always matters. A fan-base can easily connect with an artist that speaks their language. An older artiste will find it difficult to speak the language of youth to an audience aged 13 - 25. Only a very special artist can be introduced at a latter age, and still succeed at connecting with this active demography. In Nigeria, the trend in the last year has seen youngsters like Rema, Crayon, FireBoy Dml, Oxlade, Tems gain prominence. There is definitely a change of guard now. This is not strange, some years ago, the likes of Davido, Wizkid, Olamide, were introduced as very young talented individuals. As teenagers, talents are able to commit a 100% to their craft, and if they are able to gain prominence early, they can create valuable catalogs for the labels they are signed to. This can help define their longevity.

All the above will increase the chances of making an impact and ensuring that your investment does not go to waste. The goal is to sell as many records as possible. And to build a superstar that defines an era.

A label must be ready to produce great audio and visual content. And aggressively promote nothing less than 4 quality music videos in a given year. This is not a cheap endeavor. A good or great video will cost as much a Million Naira to Four Million Naira. I have seen labels spend upward of 20 Million Naira promoting a video. This is how competitive the market is. It is very capital intensive. Only a bolt of luck will cause you to stop spending so much money at the initial phase.

The label can also partner with platforms that can help promote its artiste. This could include structuring deals with more prominent record labels or featuring A-list artists with huge fan bases.

I hope you are able to consider the points raised thus far.

This is a cut-throat business.


Akinyemi Ayinoluwa.

#1 Downloaded Personalized News App

Read in App for better experience

cancel confirm