7 Music Business Principles to Live By in 2012

I am in the legal trenches right now i.e. trial work i.e. middle of litigation. But you guys, please believe nothing goes by me and I have a truckload of legal drama to discuss with you all. We just finished #OccupyNigeria. I’mma speak on it once I come up for air. For now, let’s really get 2012  poppin’ shall we? Artists, indie label owners etc., in 2012, my advice below will be the difference maker between living off your music versus trying to get by. It’s your call, you play it how you want to.

7 Business Principles to Live by in 2012

1. Be about your business of music: Whether you are an artist, a label owner, an A&R or what have you, be about your business of music. Artist, in 2012, it is totally unacceptable to run off to a studio, churn out beats and think that is gonna cut it. It “ain’t dat” kind of party. Come with your A game and get caught up with the business of music. You MUST have a music business plan for your career, your strategy for success, execute and shut it down in 2012.

This means, it is irrelevant if you are talented. That is necessary but insufficient for you to make a living off your music. So you can rap. And so? What’s that got to do with anything? So you can sing? And so? How is that getting the bills paid and creating a little extra for the “efizzy?” Get your business plan together, get your online presence together, get your marketing and promotions together, get your distributions together, line up your tours/concerts or performances. Basically, just get your act together. If you are an emerging artist, you can’t get around putting in the required time you must put in, even if you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Build your audience. Build your fans. Log on to and bring a healthy appetite to consume every article on this site relevant to you. Bottom line, be about your business.

2. Be “Un-apologetically” You: Note, if “Un-apologetically” you is “rude,” sign up in etiquette class or anger management and get that mess out of your system. “Un-apologetically” you means be yourself. Do not try to sound, think, talk, walk, dress etc. like anyone else but you. At all times possible, try to be respectful and professional, especially when you are going about the business of music. Just focus on being a better version of yourself. This trait is really what separates successful artists and creative business owners from others. It is what separates the leaders from the pack. It always has and always will.

3. Be smart enough to hire people that are smarter than you: You definitely have to be smart enough to know how to hire the really super smart people. The people on your team gotta be tight and super smart. From your entertainment lawyers to your accountants and everyone in between that will make you a lot of money, they must be intelligent and know how to apply their intelligence in a pragmatic, strategic and cost efficient way. Anything less is unacceptable.

4. Know when to let go AND be okay with letting go when you have to: Letting go is the toughest thing. It is never easy especially if you have invested so much of your passion, talent, love and hard work into your music business relationship. But, life is what it is and a big part of success is knowing when to get off the bus you have been riding on and catch the next one that will actually take you to the destination you are supposed to go. Leggo!

5. Create a trusted circle around you: You need people you never have to question, “do they have my back?” If you find yourself asking these kinds of questions, it is time to cut, cut, cut! i.e. let go. The music business world, as competitive as it is, is all about relationships. This means you need people you can trust. People whose constructive criticisms you can respect and take to heart. You need people who when times get really rough, they can encourage you. You also need people where when your head starts to swell and you believe the hype from your fans etc. they can keep you grounded and remind you not to believe your own hype. Who are these people? Stop looking in the wrong places for these people. They have been there all along. Just shine your eyes and take an inventory of the people in your life who have remained steadfast, supportive (even at your worst or when you had zero Naira/Pounds/dollars to your name); and also people who have refused to put up with your nonsense but they still love and support you. Family is a good place to start.

6. Network: You gotta go out and meet people: Don’t let music or whatever work you do consume you. Get out, shake hands, meet people, live much, laugh often, have a life. When you meet people, please, please, please, step on the brakes with a king what they can do for you. No one owes you diddly squat. You want people to bend over backwards for you, build a trusted relationship with them, first. This takes time and is not done over a one time meeting in which you exchange business cards, CDs or what have you.

7. Follow your passion: Put the pedal to the gas and follow your passion. ABSOLUTELY DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO. Often, life, especially for men and women who do not have a support system, boils down to being pragmatic and making tough decisions. Nevertheless, if you know music is your life, do it. There are so many ways to do music that will lead to what you visualized yourself doing. For example, if you visualized yourself being a singer but you are good at producing music, you can produce for so many artists before finally doing your own thing. You can also write like Tiwa Savage has done for a while to support herself before she launched into Nigeria’s markets and took off. Don’t limit your thinking. Think outside the box. The only person restricting you is YOU. So, break free from the chains of trying to live other people’s choices or realities of what they think you should and just be.

Y’all know I came to shut it down in 2012. It’s official. AML readers if you are with me, then common let’s”gerrit” people!


Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website, livestream and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through its brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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