Not too long ago, record labels were very instrumental in the success of a musician’s career.
But in this age of streaming platforms and social media, it seems these outfits are going into extinction.
This has resulted in some industry players wondering if record labels are dying.
But if they are not, how relevant are they in the scheme of operations currently?
Records labels are companies either small or big that create, distribute and market the recordings of affiliated artistes.
While some players in the music industry have quashed the relevance of record labels, others such as the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of U2M AFRICA Record Label, Odu Zee, born Daniel Odu Orji, believe otherwise.
He strongly believes that even though digital is everything now and technology has changed the face of music business, record labels are still very important.
“Social media for instance is an important and powerful tool to communicate with the masses and helps cater to the target market.
“It helps create fans base, engage and communicate but in certain cases where artistes are unable to connect with their audience and also manage their social media pages, record labels take up the role so artistes focus on their work,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Labels play a major role in terms of financial support; they assist budding and young artistes by facilitating funds for the creation, distribution and marketing of their works.
This gives a strong hold to artistes and those who want to go ahead in their music careers.
Record labels work to sell the brands(artistes) and the products they create and to be able to do this effectively, there are various departments within record labels which work together to sell the artiste to the best of their capacities, stressing that “this is something streaming platforms cannot achieve’’.
That notwithstanding, Mr Orji, who has been in the music industry over a decade, disclosed that with the advent of technology and the internet, record labels have also shifted to a more modern format.
“In the past, record labels mainly handled the production, distribution and marketing of music albums.
However, record labels now handle a wide range of services including digital distribution, promotional campaigns, artiste development and even digital streaming services,” he stated.
Furthermore, Mr Orji said record labels have also become more involved in the creative process, providing guidance and feedback to artistes and producers in the studio.
“We have shifted from focusing solely on sales to creating and managing a full 360-degree artiste experience.
By offering a variety of services, record labels have become much more than just record companies; they are now an integral part of the music industry.
Consequently, he asserted that even if an artiste does well independently, he or she might not be able to do what a label does.
For example, his label is made up of a road manager, a publicist, a DJ, project manager and a legal team.
“An artiste cannot be all these, he or she will get tired and won’t be able to offer their best in terms of creativity.
With record companies, artistes get expertise, guidance and experience that help them to explore creativity, uniqueness and opportunities that boost their work, career etc,” he added.
Despite the advantages of an artiste being signed on to a record label, one problem the industry has had to deal with over the years is when artistes do not sign contracts just because of the relationship an artiste and record label share.
Well, in that regard, Mr Orji said contract signing should not be taken for granted irrespective of the relationship.
“The legal aspect of the music industry is very important because that’s what binds the label and the artiste together legally.
Yes, friendship is important but legal aspects keep us on our toes, we both know our dos and don'ts and clearly state fairness and proportions,” he said.
Touching on managing two or more artistes, Mr Orji stated it was difficult “because you are managing brands, sounds, demands, trajectory targets and egos.
But in all, if your team is solid and work hard, it will be less stressful,” he said.
As a word of advice to fellow record label companies, Mr Orji, whose outfit currently manages singer Kojo Golden and has worked with Hiplife acts—Dr Cryme, Ruff n Smooth, Keche, Ray Jay, Prince Ababio, Kleph, Hosny among others, asserted that labels should always make their artiste feel he or she is the world’s best.
“Find the right time to advise him/her and most important, be suggestive when it comes to ideas instead of being forceful,” he noted.