Record deals are good but not relevant for every artiste and for an established act like Stonebwoy to sign a record deal with Zylofon Music, a subsidiary of the Creative Arts Company, Zylofon Media – it is not the best of decisions by the artiste, I strongly believe.
First of all, credit must be given to Zylofon for their resolve to invest in the Ghanaian arts/entertainment industry – supporting various events and signing on artistes on management, promotion and marketing deals.
The deals for Kumi Guitar and Becca are in the right direction and the two artistes can do with the huge reprieve the label brings, but for Stonebwoy, it seems the deal would favour the label more and that’s business.
The biggest advantage of signing to a major label is the availability of funds, the revenue to support the marketing, promotion and management of the artiste but it comes with a lot of challenges and Stonebwoy, at this stage of his stellar career does not need this and here is why:
Having an unreserved control over your creativity as an artiste is extremely liberating and Stonebwoy knows this, considering the fact that, some years ago, he was under the High Grade Family – the label that catapulted him into mainstream relevance.
Candidly, High Grade introduced Stonebwoy unto the limelight but he soared when he went on his own. He had complete control over the direction of his music, total control over his marketing, and the free will to say yes or no to the many opportunities that came his way. Having authority and power over your creative abilities is the most ideal scenario possible for an artiste – and Stonebwoy had it.
Under a major label, which has pumped much money into the business, an artiste would not have such privileges; decisions, including how you should sound and what direction your music turns, goes through a myriad of board deliberations and management chattering – making the artiste almost redundant in the decision-making on his own music.
With his Burniton Music Group, which is an independent label, Stonebwoy has been able to cement his legend and legacy within a spate of 3 years, projecting his brand as one of the go-to brands. Going under the supervision and guidance of a record label again is quite baffling.
Networking & International Appeal
Another good thing a record label offers is the access to existing networks which can open significant doors and create opportunities for the artiste and the music, the reach and influence that comes with a deep-seeded bag of contacts across all aspects of the industry – but all these, Stonebwoy already has.
His solitary networking and influence have been able to make him an authority in Ghanaian music with a tall list of hit songs, a plethora of high-profile awards and command over a huge fan base.
A record deal could also aid the artiste and make significant gains on the international market but, Stonebwoy already has that in the bag too. In fact, single-handedly, he holds the record as the only Ghanaian dancehall artiste to be nominated twice at the BET Awards, the first Ghanaian dancehall act to win it, and just one of two Ghanaian artists to get two nominations at the same international awards.
In 2016, Stonebwoy was arguably the Ghanaian artist that commandeered the biggest international appeal featuring prominently in the Coke Studio productions, international collaborations and his music videos showing across Africa. Without a label, he has been able to establish an impressive network that sees his brand and music well represented internationally.
Under his Burninton Music Group, Stonebwoy had his own posse, his own core group of loyal and dedicated persons who worked assiduously to see to the projection and elevation of his brand. Critical decisions were just among core members of that team but all will change under the oversight of a record label.
Stonebwoy would now have to deal with two sets of management; his guys at his label and the other hardworking guys at Zylofon Music. For an artiste who has almost become accustomed to having his way in the direction of his career, going through different levels of approval at the peak of his career could be daunting.
Under Burniton Music Group, Stonebwoy had people who shared in his vision and had the skills to help move his career in the right direction, but under Zylofon, that cannot be assured. Why? Because, there are already three major artistes on the same label and the focus must tilt to all. Definitely not a good look!
Where Will The Money Go?
Let us not kid ourselves; Zylofon is surely investing some huge amount of money into Stonebwoy and just like any other young businesses, they would want to make profit. The purpose of signing with a label is of course to record and sell music and here’s a hypothetical breakdown of percentages from music sales:
CD - In the making of a CD, here are the key players and the percentage of sales that they get: Artist - 6.6% - Producer - 2.2%, Songwriters - 4.5% Distributor - 22% Manufacturing - 5%, Retailer -30% and - Record label - 30%.
ITunes - selling an album on iTunes has less key players and the percentages are split a bit differently, though the artist doesn’t see much more at the end of the day. Apple takes 30%, and the label collects the remaining 70%, of which they pay out about 12% of their end to the artist (about 8% of the total purchase price of the album).
In what is called the 360 deal, the label gets involved in all (or most) aspects of the artist development, including touring and brand development, in exchange for taking a % of all revenues generated across all channels, not just recorded music.
Without a label, Stonebwoy had 100% rights retention with any revenue generated from things like album sales and sync licensing deals going right into his pocket. Not anymore!
What Stonebowy Really Needs!
Zylofon is offering support in overseeing the management, promotion and marketing of his music, but honestly, he’s already grounded in all that. What he needs critically is the physical and online distribution of the music - and he doesn’t need Zylofon for this, maybe!
On his own, Stonebwoy was able to get his music on international distribution label, VP Records and even got consideration at the highly prestigious Grammys. What else?
In this era of music business, music release and sale of an album no longer lies in the hands of a label as artistes can put out their albums with least upfront investment and can directly market and promote their products. The musicians can make their own ecosystem with the followers becoming a part of an online distribution chain. Artistes can sell their music immediately without the backing of a record label.
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