Last week I couldn’t help but voice my irritation over the long standing pattern and practice most Nigerian music industry stakeholders approach termination of their artist-record company business relationships. At issue, specifically, was Ice Prince’s statement, during a local radio interview in Nigeria, where he announced he was no longer with Chocolate City Records (CC); and that his contract had expired three years ago.
I said these stakeholders (Ice and CC included) needed to show a bit more respect to their fans, the media and public at large; and jump at the chance of educating all about the business of music.
It appears they listened. This Monday, CC and Ice Prince brought the much needed professionalism and did exactly what should have been done three years ago. They conducted a press conference, explained the termination of the artist-record company business relationship; and announced a new business model moving forward.
Per their representations during the press conference, CC has forged a new relationship with Ice where the record company will treat Ice’s ‘Super Cool Cats’ label as an imprint of CC.
An “imprint” is strictly a brand name i.e. service or trademark used to publish goods or services. In Ice’s example, the Super Cool Cats imprint will be used to market his sound recordings and other merchandise i.e. apparel according to his statements. There is no real legal business structure with an imprint. It is treated more as a “project,” a “unit” or “division” of a record company with the hopes (from a major record company standpoint) that the imprint can stand on its own and become a full fledged independent record label.
There are many examples of this concept. From Drake’s OVO imprint now under Warner Bros. Records to Katy Perry’s Metamorphosis Music under Capitol Records, the list goes on.
In brokering this new relationship, CC, although considered an independent record company by global music business standards; seeks to act, long term, like the western major music record company conglomerates with many subsidiaries i.e. think Sony etc.
Whether it can achieve this bigger vision hinges, greatly, on the kind of leadership skills Ice and Jesse Jagz (who is signed to a similar deal) bring to the table. Do they have the vision and leadership skills to actually operate successful labels? Time will tell. If they are successful, expect a renegotiation of whatever deals they have brokered with CC in the future.
I do think it is kind of cool that all (Audu Maikori, Ice, MI and Jagz) started together and have somehow found a way to stand on almost equal footing; and work side by side. A true test of success, with any brand, especially one such as CC, is creating leaders and then letting go when you do for them to create even more disciples/leaders.
Press statement: Chocolate City Unveils Two New Labels; Super Cool Cats & JagzNation
“Chocolate City Group this morning, at an earlier announced press conference, unveiled two music labels Super Cool Cats and JagzNation as record label imprints under the popular Chocolate City Music label; becoming the first African record label to follow in the footsteps of international heavy weights such as Universal Music and Sony Music Group. The two labels are owned and headed by Ice Prince and Jesse Jagzrespectively.
Arguably the most powerful record label on the continent and now the most structured; Chocolate City Music CEO – Jude “MI” Abaga, answered the questions of an impressive gathering of press men and tackled live questions from fans on social media who were keen to know how the relationship between Chocolate City Music, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagzwould unfold going forward.
The press were eager to know about the breaking away of two of the most popular artistes on the label, to which M.I replied by saying it was not a destruction of Chocolate City, but an investment in the two new imprints towards building an empire emphasizing that this announcement has been in the works for months and it is easier for both prolific artistes to keep up with the pace of their creativity when under their own independent labels.
According to Ice Prince “Super Cool Cats is beyond a music label, as we are already working with fashion designers, video directors etc.; it is in fact a full platform for different expressions of the arts” He also mentioned that he is already working on an urban line with Seyi Sanusi popularly known as “Sneaker Boy”. Jesse Jagz was cool, calm and all smiles as he told the press that being an artist under a large label limits his creativity, but that having his own record label gives him more creative freedom and control on his content.
MI, who gave an illustration of the relationship between Aftermath Entertainment, Records, Shady Records and G Unit Records, encouraged the press to do more research on music labels globally to find out how well structured and diverse they all are. He also responded to a question that he is still a recording artiste and has been in the studio working on new singles and an album to be released very soon.
M.I wrapped up the conference by responding to a fan tweet about Milli’s exit; explaining that the rapper was not dropped from the label, but left amicably and that Milli will be in the best position to answer about what he is up to now.
With the press conference anchored by Ehiz Okoeguale of MTV Base, the record label was able put to rest rumours about an ugly spat with Ice Prince, and gave fans and industry watchers information about the various upcoming releases and events from the Chocolate City family to look out for.
Warning: Strong content/explicit language. Click at your own discretion
Jesse Jagz – Nigerian Gangster | I continue to think Jagz is one of the most brilliant artists of this generation. I wish we could hear more from him.
Ice Prince – I respect Ice’s hustle but feel strongly that he needs to put more effort into having a stronger music style/identity that does not sound like the gimmicks out there. Ice, at this stage of his career, needs to be much stronger than what he is.
And what has M.I been doing? Listen to NotjustOk/Savage off his latest Illegal Music 3 mixtape.
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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia. Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine.
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