Signing for an average artist has never, and will never be a good get-out-of-hunger card. It simply transfers you from being a free slave to the art, to being someone’s little slave and errand boy.
We see it happen all the time. An average Nigerian artist who might have had a few hit songs, and plateaued in his career decides to annex other talents to his record label.
He picks up a few names of struggling young artists who are talented beyond measure, offer them the lifeline of a contract, and the promise of investment, a good career growth and many more. These poor artists who are literally steeped in poverty, sign up to these deals, and begin to slave in a bogus record label that begins to hold on to their destinies, limit their music and keep them chained to a contract.
When the owner of the label is asked why he has signed new artists instead of working on improving on himself, his offers a packaged reason: “I know I am still a growing artist, but I also want people to grow with and since God has blessed me, I also want to bless other people”
When you hear this speech or many other variations of this speech, it’s a red flag. 9 times out of 10, nothing good will become of the signed artist. Anytime someone uses the word ‘help’ in relation to signing on new talent, then there’s a problem with his mental makeup.
It means he doesn’t understand the business of music. It means he has no depth, he has no plan, and does not mean good for the label. It means the new act is a charity case, and the contract is not a legal binding document that would define the rules of engagement. He is helping other artists. Don’t expect professionalism.
But it gets darker.
When a record label owner, who is a recording and performing artist annexes people to himself, he doesn’t bring them in to ‘help’. He brings them in to become his new sources of inspiration and creativity. These new artists will have just one job: feed their boss with their best material so that he can blow up and become bigger. Legally, there’s always a clause which is inserted into the contract that is used to enforce this to happen.
It reads: Party A (the new talent) will submit all of his works, recording, composition, songs, written ideas and every other material that constitutes a creative creation to Party B (the record label owner) who would use it as he/she deems fit”.
Once that contract is signed, you effectively become a tool to serve the boss. But the law is rarely ever enforced. The new talent, eager to impress, would willingly submit his work to his boss and generate ideas for ‘the greater good of the label’. That way, he remains in the good books of his boss, to get the crumbs.
Upcoming artists are not to blame for signing these deals. Unless you walk in their shoes and understand how hopeless and pitiful the music struggle is, then you would not understand why they sign these deals away. Artists go through pain that can never be documented and understood, until you walk in their shoes and know hunger, poverty, lack and abuse. Only then can you get the picture.
But signing for an average artist has never, and will never be a good get-out-of-hunger card. It simply transfers you from being a free slave to the art, to being someone’s little slave and errand boy.
Don’t do it. It never ends well.