Music Business

Davido: (Sony) “tried to change my sound…saying staying true to my culture wouldn’t work for me outside Africa”

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We revisit the Davido-Sony deal which I have said, from day one, made no sense. This is because you have an artist that has already achieved critical mass in the Africa and is slowly but surely gaining strong momentum in the Europe and other parts of the world. He has the funding to support marketing and promotional efforts of his music or to obtain funding directly from his family if he chooses. Yet, he goes to Sony and signs a traditional recording deal requiring permission where his creative control is concerned. It is an incredibly silly thing to do and there is no other way to mince words about it.

When Sony dropped the music video for his hit single ‘Gbagbe Oshi’ last year, they made the video inaccessible in certain markets including the U.S. until an uproar from fans forced them to lift the restriction. A year later, Davido now seems to get it. He announces to the world what I’ve been saying and all I can think is… *sigh*. Sony is doing its job based on what they know and the deal you signed. They don’t know you, and they sure as heck don’t understand your market and how to effectively marry the two African and western cultures.

Artists, especially in this digital era, you have to know your identity and the kind of bargaining power you bring to the table. Don’t be like Davido. Also, as much as you want to “blow,” know your core fan base and who pays your bills. Unless you want a complete rebranding and starting from scratch, any deal that requires dropping your identity and your existing fan base is one to make you think really long and hard. Finally, all lawyers are not created equal, regardless of their prominence or popularity.

For African artists looking to play in the western market who have such strong brand equity like Davido, you should work with a lawyer who is intimately familiar with your local market. If that means having your western lawyer connect with your Nigerian/African lawyer so no stones are left unturned, as to your local market, do so.

Take ownership of your career and know what you want. Davido is stuck with his contract so this will not be the last we will hear of that deal and him fighting for creative control.

-Ms. Uduak

“The bro @1omarion feeling da ‘IF’ vibes! All last year , they tried to change my sound .. saying staying true to my culture wouldn’t work for me outside Africa! This year I fought and pleaded for ‘them’ to allow me make the music I know how to make and now see what’s happened!! MUSIC AINT GOT A LANGUAGE !! NOW I GOT THE BIGGEST SONG IN AFRICA ONCE AGAIN! THANK TO JAH!!”

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Africa Music Law™

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

For general inquiries, advertising, licensing, or to appear on the show as a guest, please email (info@africamusiclaw.com). Thank you for visiting.

ABOUT THE FOUNDER

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 https://msuduak.com.

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