Getting a record label deal is the ultimate dream of an upcoming Nigerian rapper or singer. People believe that getting a contract is hard but I have made it easy here.
Most people believe that getting just any contract is the end of all suffering but it isn’t necessarily so. This post aims at demystifying these terms. So you can know what it really means to get signed.
According to wikipedia “A record label is a publishing company that manages brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution , marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos”
Record labels see you as an investment opportunity and seek to sell your brand to make profit.
They will spend time preparing your story and creating a hype around you, they will spend money grooming you to ensure you look like everything they said you were.
The amount of attention you get depends on the kind of contract you get, all artistes don’t get the same deals. Below I listed the popular types of contracts and what they entail.
If a label offers you this contract, it means they are willing to use their resources to promote your brand thereby increasing your natural audience. They will seek to introduce you to a wider audience which will grow your fan base in turn.
The contract may require you to relinquish some control over your representation and public image, because they might have to hire a manager and a PR agent for you to carry out their marketing vision. This means they might be in charge of your social media profiles.
You will become more visible because more blogs will carry your story, your management will get more leads so you will perform at more shows and eventually become attractive for brand endorsements.
You will be required to share your earnings with the label via a percentage distribution to cover for the resources spent on getting you that far.
Distribution deals are offered to semi established artistes who already have a vibrant market presence but needs wider reach. This will allow such an artists to sell more, get more shows and and eventually make money for the label via percentage sharing.
Distribution has come a long way, these days independent artistes are now taking it up themselves by using tools available on social.
Wholesome Recording/Copyright contracts
This kind of contract are mostly provided to artistes who start from scratch. The label will take care of all your creative expenses on the grounds that you allow them influence your artistic expression.
They may own your songs and your voice for the duration of the contract term. In plain English, they own you for the time being. Nigerian record labels hardly offer them because frankly no label is interested in building up an artiste from scratch.
This contract is dangerous because you may not be able to perform your own songs even after the term, without sharing a percentage of money with the former label as royalties.
Soul E had a battle with his former label, colossal records in 2007.
The label claimed they own the name “Soul E” and that he couldn’t use it anymore after the contract was breached. He was ordered to pay N160 Million naira by a Lagos federal high court according to Linda Ikeji.
Upcoming artistes are misinformed and that’s why they find it hard to get signed record label deal Nigeria. Make labels fight for you with these 3 steps
How To Get Signed Record Label Deal Nigeria
To attract the attention of labels is just like looking for investors to put money in your business. Its easier when your business has already started up. So this is focusing on things you can do to improve yourself while waiting for that glorious day.
1. Build a Core fan base
Label wants underground Nigerian artistes that are already locally recognized. Its not just enough to be talented, they want you to make waves in your zone because they are business people with an eye for a product they can sell.
Lets look at the case of two artistes A and B, each getting 10,000 downloads for their free digital mix tapes.
Rapper A got people downloading his project from all over the country from Lagos to Calabar to Maiduguri and Sokoto. Statistics show that the people who are downloading his songs are within the ages of 50 and 20.
He has done well considering how vast the country is, its possible that some of the downloads came from random action given the very diverse demographic.
Rapper B got all his downloads from Benue only, all 10, 000 of them. Most of his downloads are from people within the ages of 18 and 30. Its very unlikely that his downloads are coming randomly, the stats place him as a local champion.
Who do you think labels will go for? A is a good artiste, but From all indications B seems like more of an investment. All the record label wants to do now is to offer him a deal that will help him amplify his presence by trying to recreate his Benue following in other States.
If Rapper B can be so strongly followed in Benue as an underground artiste then it means he has done well on his own in the pilot phase and has come close to being a finished product. It also means that rapper B is already able to invoke emotion in a small area and thus will be easier for PR people to brand.
2. Acquire other skills
Labels wants artistes with a diverse skill set. Its not enough to be polarized anymore, its a capitalist system and you need to lookout for things that make can you attractive. It’s no coincidence that 5 of the 2017 big brother Nigeria contestants were musicians.
Many of them will get signed up, despite getting evicted at an early stage. The idea is to show yourself with every opportunity, you can’t afford to be in the background if you dream of getting signed.
3. Blend into the trend
You might not have enough money to hire your own PR agent, you might not have a manager but you can surely make moves to brand yourself. Labels are on the lookout for artistes who already look like celebrities, they want those who are making songs that can sell.
So if you’re an underground rapper looking to get signed by Don Jazzy its time to quit hardcore rap, meddle with some catchy feel-good music and get on their radar by looking good all by yourself.
Now that you know what the record labels are looking for, you should do the following
1. Contact them directly
There are services that claim to be middle men and offer to link you up to record labels. Let me give you this piece of advice; DO NOT PATRONIZE THEM. Record labels put out their emails and contact addresses from time to time whenever they need to add a new face to their roster.
You have to do yourself a favor and stay attentive to industry news in case there is any new opportunity to send your song. Its not a crime for you to go on social network and initiate conversations by sending direct messages with the big names.
Many of them will not reply but those who do will be worth it. When contacting a record label, you need to package your stuff correctly with all your song, links, past performances and reviews well arranged.
2. Participate in competitions
Competitions are a great place for record labels to select their future flag bearers. Record labels want to give deals to artistes who can hold their own in front of a crown while under pressure.
The industry is a wild place and they are usually watching out for new confident acts catching the headlines. Skales got signed to EME after Banky W saw him perform at a show in Kaduna, you could be next signee.
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