Record Label Owners: Reaping Investment Rewards?

Behind the highly visible world of artists and performers who touch people’s lives are less visible record label owners who invest their time and money in discovering, nurturing and promoting artistic talents.

The roles record companies play in music business is so crucial that no other parties in the music industry take such responsibilities and risks for supporting artistes –seeking the benefits of shared success and also accepting the financial consequences of failure.

In a highly competitive music industry, breaking an artiste in a global market can cost as much as $1 million (₦160 million), according to ‘Investing in Music’ report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Even though factual figures are not readily available in Nigeria on how much a record label expends in promoting an artiste, practitioners in the industry say about ₦4-10 million is usually budgeted, depending on the class of the artiste in question.

And while many record labels have been forced to close business as their overall revenues declined due to the activities of digital piracy, some have devised means of getting return on their investments. With this, they are able to reinvest the proceeds of successful campaigns in discovering and nurturing of upcoming talented artistes.

With massive hits from their artistes, record companies have made millionaires of naira –with label owners ranking among some of the richest in the country. The showmanship that goes with being in the industry has made some of these producers live flamboyantly –driving around town in the most expensive automobiles and living in massive mansions.

The Duo of Kenny and Dayo
Popular radio/television personalities, Kenny Ogungbe and his partner Dayo Adeneye (a.k.a. D-1) of Primetime Entertainment are indisputably the godfathers and promoters of Nigeria’s hip hop music. They are one of Nigeria’s biggest hip hop export label known globally with several awards.

The duo of Kenny and Dayo with their entertainment outfit revolutionalised and popularised hip hop music in Nigeria through their numerous radio and television programme in the early 1990s. They promoted the likes of Remedies (Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Remedy), most awarded hip hop artiste –Tuface Idibia, Sir Shina Peters, Paul Play, Baba Dee, Sound Sultan, Kelly Handsome, VIP (from Ghana), Goldie (who passed away recently), and many others. Some of the artistes currently in the label include Kenny Saint Brown, Essence, Jaywon, Capital F.E.M.I, Joe El, Minjin and Nigeria Jagajaga exponent, Eedris Abdukareem.

Apart from making money from organising shows and promoting artistes, Kenny and D-1 have several real estate investments and enjoy driving exotic automobiles. They also had a number of endorsement deals that fetched them cool cash –including the MTN deal few years ago that got them two MTN branded H2 Hummer jeeps.

Obi Asika’s Storm 360
One of the most respected figures in the country’s entertainment circle is Obi Asika, founder and CEO of Storm 360 record label. Storm 360 is a leading entertainment company in West Africa with vast international experience and contacts.

The Storm company has been building buzz in and around Nigeria since it first came to being in 1991 as Storm Productions, engaging in artiste management and launching the first Afro-hip hop group, Junior & Pretty. Today, Obi manages the careers of top rated artistes such as Ikechukwu, Naeto C, Sasha, GT the Guitarman, Dare, Jazzman Olofin and Tosin Martins.

The Storm outfit also makes a lot of money through its television production company, Storm Vision. They have produced some of the most watched television shows which include Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO); Play TV; Big Brother Nigeria; The Scoop; 100% Naija; ILN Teacher’s TV; The Apprentice Africa and Dragon’s Den.

Chocolate City
Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City is also one of the biggest record labels in Nigeria with top artistes such as Ice Prince, M.I., Brymo on the label. Meanwhile, rapper and producer Jesse Jagz, a former member of the Chocolate City family recently announced his exit from the company to start his own record label.

In the Nigerian music industry, there had been accusation and counter-accusation from some artistes and record label owners on failure to abide by contractual agreement. The development led some Nigerian artistes to seek fortunes for their musical efforts and advance their careers on their own record labels.

Artistes Managing Record Labels
Among the wealthiest label owners in Nigeria is the multi award-winning producer, Michael Collins Ajereh, popularly known as Don Jazzy. The floating of his new label –Mavin Records – after the seeming demise of Mo’ Hits Records adds to the stock of individual record labels in the country. With his wealth and creative ability, Forbes magazine listed him last year as the 36th most powerful celebrity in Africa. Mavin Records currently have top artistes like Wande Coal, Tiwa Savage, Dr. Sid and D’Prince on its label.

Before splitting with Dapo Oyebanjo (a.k.a. D’banj), Don Jazzy was a Mo’Hits Records partner, and was also signed on as a producer by Kanye West to his G.O.O.D Music label. He was reported to have shared over ₦1 billion returns on investment with his partner during their Mo’Hits days. He owns fabulous automobiles and lives in a big mansion in Lekki.

Don Jazzy currently enjoys brand endorsement deal with Loyal Milk, from the stable of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, which earned him millions of naira. He was also signed on by Samsung to produce some sounds for the company’s new Wi-Fi designs.

Empire Mates Entertainment
Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) record label is one of the country’s fastest growing record label company, established by R&B act, Bankole Wellington (Banky W). The E.M.E. Records produced the likes of Ayo Balogun, better known as ‘Wizkid,’ who recently disengaged from the label to float his StarBoy record company.

Banky W makes the bulk of his wealth from gigs and brand ambassadorship. He made millions of naira as a brand ambassador of Estisalat; Samsung; Coca Cola Nigeria’s World Cup theme song, Coca Cola Advert, and Microsoft’s Anti-cyber Crime Initiative. Close source to the artiste said he has huge investment in a real estate company that manages properties within and outside the country.

Some established artistes who have benefited from years of investments by record labels but presently have their own record companies include: Tuface, founder and CEO of Hypertek Records & Entertainment; High-flying singing duo, P-square runs Square label; English-Yoruba lyricist, Abolore ‘9ice’ Akande, projects his works on his Alapomeji Record; Producer and performer, Lanre Dabiri, better known as “eLDee the Don,” founded Trybe Records.

Since investment in record labels is becoming lucrative, Chelsea midfielder and Super Eagles star, Mikel Obi, has also joined the league of record label owners in Nigeria. He floated MMM Records & Entertainment and installed his sibling, Tochukwu, the last child of the family and a graduate of Cambridge University, as the manager.

The music industry is expected to witness more investment from wealthy individuals within and outside the country as more talents are being discovered daily.