When you’re the Angrymob, you get to meet and advise a lot of budding and established artistes and start-up labels hoping to gain a foothold in the world famous (in Keke’s voice) Nigerian music industry. From my experience, at least 90% of the new entrants into the industry will ultimately be unable to make any significant impact or reasonable revenue to sustain them beyond the first 5 years. Likely cause of death? Utter lack of understanding of the Business of Music!
Here’s a typical scenario, I’m flown out of town – consultation fee in hand, checked into a nice hotel and excited to meet with a new record label boss who wants my opinion of his business. Soon, we’re off to the studio to listen to some music and meet with the talents. The talents are usually ensconced in a well-furnished “label house” complete with a nice studio. After listening to a few mediocre records from the signed talents and learning of all the costs that have already been incurred including cars, monthly allowances and a couple of Clarence Peters videos, the only sound that lingers in my mind is the rushing sound of money down the drain. I feel sorry for the investor and sad too; because asking the right questions early on would have saved them a ton of money and time.
If you get into the entertainment business without first learning the business, you’ll become the entertainment.
The general lack of knowledge and understanding of the industry among new investors in the music industry is appalling. Listen, if you get into the entertainment business without first learning the business, you’ll become the entertainment. The amazing thing is, some of these investors have thriving businesses in other sectors yet they assume that the music business does not require the same amount of due diligence they would normally carry out before venturing into other businesses and this is dead wrong. Music business is business.
Since the success of your label depends greatly on the quality of talent you sign, and I want to see more label wins this year, here are a few tips you should consider before signing an artiste to your new label in 2019.
- Do not sign an artiste who doesn’t already have a cache of recordings.
- Never sign an artist who has not invested a relatively significant amount of their own money in their career.
- Don’t sign an artist who does not have a growing and zealous fan base.
- Never sign an artist without knowing exactly how you will add value to their career and scale what they already have going.
- Never sign more than one artist at first.
There’s an igbo proverb that says that one who asks questions (early) never misses their way. If you wish to start a label in 2019 or have recently started one, I beg you to do your research and due diligence and also speak to a knowledgeable industry professional/player to improve your chances of success. Finally, watch this space.
Cheers to a profitable 2019!
PS: The Business of Music (BOM) series will be coming to you every Thursday in 2019, so keep it locked!
Obinna Agwu (@d_angrymob)
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