George just got the best news of his life. This is what he’s lived for, dreamt of, prayed for, and it was finally coming to life. George, an upcoming musician was spotted on Twitter and was subsequently signed by a record label.
His life’s dream, and an opportunity to prove to people, especially his father about his musical prowess had finally come. He is lost in the moment, and doesn’t take out time to read and understand the contract, the implications of signing and the commitment involved.
He is seemingly elated at the fact that his dream is close to fruition after what seemed like a long time. The money proposed is another mouthwatering incentive that puts the nail on the proverbial coffin.
The first year goes a bit smoothly, promises are fulfilled, singles are released and airplay guaranteed. The first monetary release is effected, some show appearances. Life and career suddenly looks bright.
Enter the second year of the contract and attention starts to fizzle, plans get stalled, suddenly, there are no more studio sessions, no monetary commitment, nothing whatsoever. He finds out about the non-existent artiste structure, A&R or a management team.
He get into fights, quarrels and after further investigation, he discovers that the record label execs are internet fraudsters a.k.a, ‘Yahoo boys’ and that the label only serves as a front for money laundering.
He tries to get out of the mess he’s clearly found himself in, but due to threats by the management and a pointer at the contract, he finds himself reading through and thoroughly as well, for the first time ever, that which he appended his signature to.
He is stunned at the deceit, the mistake he’s made, the bondage he has ignorantly gotten into which has him stuck for five years.
This scenario, is fast becoming the norm among upcoming musicians whose desire of becoming superstars and putting their work out are is making them jump on offers without proper consultation. Many young musicians have fallen and are prey to fraudsters using record labels as laundering front.
In 2017, veteran rapper and President of Chocolate Music Group, M.I Abaga, in an interview, gave a shout out to yahoo boys and claimed that they have done more for the music industry than the government has in recent times.
That statement is clear evidence that fraudsters are using the Nigerian music industry as a means to cover their illegal means of money making. They either support a growing artiste or they go into making the music themselves.
These individuals have no knowledge of the music industry, they might posses some love for music, but zero knowledge of the workings of the industry. They clearly have the money to spend on getting sophisticated and needed equipment, but the structure required is nonexistent.
These execs posses zero knowledge of the management system, A&R,even the branding process of the artiste is carried out haphazardly. This has lead to the dearth of many careers and depression on the part of the artistes.
When explaining the reason why he left the game unceremoniously, Ajegunle’s own Baba Fryo explained that:
“The system has changed. At present, we don’t have raw talents in the music industry, people doing music now are the Yahoo and drug boys. They took over the industry. A Yahoo boy can just enter the studio because music is easy now unlike before when you would have to pass through many processes to release a song.”
D’banj who was one of the panelists who discussed the topic, ‘Changing The Game: Artistes As Leaders’ at the 2018 Social Media Week in Lagos, said that most label owners are operating blindly as they know nothing about music.
According to D’banj: “Most of the new generation record labels are founded by Yahoo boys. You must understand first, why you are coming into music. Nigerian artistes need a lot of capacity building. It is only in Nigeria that the owner of a record label doesn’t know anything about music.”
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC last year, arraigned the Chief Executive Officer of Canbit Music, Olusegun Ake, before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding an American company, Renovate America Incorporated.
In May 2018, nusic producer and the owner of 606 Record Label known popularly as @606autos was arrested by the EFCC for alleged fraud activities.
Largely, receipts from the illicit trade funds a significant part of the Nigerian music industry with these fraudsters becoming label owners, sponsors, show promoters and even artists, in a bid to either double their money or use music as a decoy for their activities.
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos.
For such an important task, and the recent upwards growth and recognition of our music in the international community, credible people with outstanding knowledge of the music industry should be in charge and the earlier this happens, the better for the Nigerian music industry and the entertainment scene as a whole.
By Treasure Uduak Ekpedeme