Haven’t we had enough instances of Africans and especially Nigerians paying astronomical amounts of money to bring American acts to perform in Nigeria? Why is D’Banj who is supposedly signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D music producing a concert in Nigeria and shipping G.O.O.D Music artists and other American artists to perform there? Has Kanye even given D’Banj this kind of limelight in the USA?
Most importantly, was Don Jazzy right? Should D’Banj stay and build his country and the continent’s music industry, first? Is it “long throat” (greedy) as we say in Pidgin English (in Nigeria) for him to seek to penetrate the US market at the time that he has?
What’s his strategy? Does he even have one? Can he sign legal contracts left, right, center, front and back and think it will get him into the homes of Americans?
AML people surely you all remember how we opened 2012? We closed out 2011 with the Mo’Hits team on our tongues. In 2012, we opened with a full court press as news that the modern day legendary Mo’Hits duo and their record label was seconds away from crumbling. On AML, we learnt about Mo’Hits dysfunctional corporate structure, disloyal artists, lack of any real contracts relating both to song ownership for the business entity and the artists. We learnt about alleged inflated egos and so much more which supposedly caused the split. We talked about it here on AML and the world’s most prominent media outlets followed suit.
For six straight months, the former executives of Mo’Hits Records, D’Banj and Don Jazzy, remained on our radar and at odds with each other. Finally, the duo freed us from the suspense (and for some agony) when they officially announced their divorce by going their separate ways via their actions. Don Jazzy regrouped under his new label called MAVIN RECORDS. D’Banj was yet to announce the launch of his record label D’Banj Records. Instead, he hopped on to G.O.O.D Music, name dropped G.O.O.D Music in every single interview, radio and at all times. He also, through his dealings with G.O.O.D Music; which later inked a distribution deal with Island Def Jam, appeared on the website of Mercury Records UK as a listed artist. We do not know what he actually signed with Mercury Records. In fact, he kept mute about what kind of contract, if any, he signed. We just know he was listed on their website, that’s it.
His followers who supported him and the rest of Africa excitedly waited to see how his G.O.O.D music relationship would turn out. There was no real movement. Instead, D’Banj showed up with a head wrap that had him looking like the nomadic Hausa Mallams found in Northern Nigeria in Kanye’s “Cruel Summer” “Mercy” video, and making funny moves and sounds. D’banj made it to France at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Kanye’s aforementioned short film but Kanye scooped all the attention.
Do you all remember all of these? D’Banj went silent, except for the pop up at Ludacris’ charity basketball event. Why do all of these matter? How is it germane to his upcoming December 27th, 2012 Koko concert? It matters because it illustrates a very big lesson you all as African artists and labels seeking to do business with the USA should know!!!! DON’T BE SO DESPERATE TO SIGN TO WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YOU, YOUR CULTURE, WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN AND WHERE YOU ARE HEADED, without a full understanding and legal professionals who get you to help negotiate deal terms that are favorable to you.
D’Banj got screwed in whatever deal he signed with Kanye. It doesn’t take a genius to see this.
Let’s back track. In probably one of the best interviews in 2012 delivered by the Great Ayeni, owner of the NETng.com, what did D’Banj tell us was the basis of the end of the Mo’Hits decade old music legacy?
D’Banj told us in that interview, and generally, that he was ready to basically fly. He did all the work to get Kanye West and the G.O.O.D Music face time to land a music deal. Don Jazzy, on the other hand, dragged his feet and did not believe in D’Banj’s vision or that they could fly. D’Banj also said he wanted to come to the USA to take Nigerian music global. Don Jazzy, however, wanted to remain in Nigeria. D’Banj who had bought multi-millionaire Naira rides for Mo’Hits artists including D’Prince, told us he even set up a studio in Atlanta and all he asked Don Jazzy to do was just produce, but Don Jazzy refused.
Now, within 12 months, what has D’Banj accomplished in the USA? Truthfully, nothing but a big hole in his pocket, so far, and a continuous “omo odo” (slave/maid) like behavior.
After coming off paying an arm and a leg to get Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, to feature in his Endowed remix video, he hurriedly signed a terrible contract with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music so Nigerians can validate and the world could say “I see you signed with Kanye West.” What has he received so far?
The contract signed, whatever that perambulation on camera was that D’banj and even Don Jazzy did, has seen D’Banj carrying a bulk of the expenses of promotions and marketing from his wallet in the USA, a hefty cost. Kanye West is yet to use all of his power and might to help D’Banj make a breakthrough in the USA market. G.O.O.D music, right after D’Banj signed a music deal with them, inked a deal with Def Jam for distribution, worldwide. What has happened to D’Banj? What is Kanye West doing with the African guy?
D’Banj has stayed in the USA with no tour, no promotions, no radio or tv appearances, nothing. Oh! I forgot. He made it to Ludacris’s basketball charity event and also inked a World Music Awards nomination in four categories in Miami. Cool. What’s that got to do with the price of bread?
If he is backed by an investor, his signing with Kanye appears to be a bad investment. If he is doing it solo, it is equally just as bad. And before y’all jump on my case, Ma$e kicked it with Diddy and the world thought he was making money. He just, after 16years, got out of the deal that was not making diddly squat for his pocket book.
There are countless stories. Do y’all music law/business heads remember the artist Prince? Let’s keep it moving shall we.
This is not science. Whether D’Banj admits it or not, the large hole keeps burning in his pocket and D’Banj has to make that money back. Appearances at Ludacris charity events don’t put money in the pocket. Performance of Oliver Twist (one single) in the UK has not put money in the pocket. A video release of ‘Oliver Twist’ of which D’Banj probably bore all expenses in making the video, much the same way he did the Endowed remix with Snoop, has not put money in his pocket. If you say it has, I’d love to see where that video has been played, beyond the internet, to allow him even get any kind of video royalty payments. If Mercury UK advanced the money for the video, they certainly would recoup i.e. get their money back with any payments that come from that video.
Basically, it’s been one huge expense after another in addition to supporting an expensive lifestyle, since he left the shores of Nigeria to spread Nigerian music globally. As indicated, since the signing, about the only thing that has come out of the Kanye West end of the deal has been the “Cruel Summers/Mercy video” feature where he made a cameo appearance disguised as a Mallam.
So, was Don Jazzy right? Should D’Banj have stayed and built his base some more across Africa? Maybe, maybe not? Let’s give D’banj more time. I know he can’t afford to fail now. It is too expensive to do so.
However, I think, but you all may disagree with me and I absolutely want to hear your opposing views, that D’Banj moved prematurely. He got screwed and had the worst end of the contract he signed with Kanye West/G.O.O.D Music. I believe it has cost so much money and nothing is coming into his pocket, right now. As a result, he has returned back to where he should have started, Africa, to really do what he was supposed to do in the first place for better leverage. I also believe that Africa is where he hopes to stop the bleeding in his pocket but to stop the bleeding, he has to shell out a bit more money for G.O.O.D music artists and Idris Elba to attract the massive crowd that will help him recoup some of those costs.
Here is my conclusion:
- Popularity as an artist in Africa does not put money in your pocket, if you decide to move to America and start your career all over here. It’s like a medical doctor migrating here to come do entry level job like CNA, when there is no need to do so, at a hospital.
- Desperation to be famous will make you sign silly contracts that screw you over. Especially if you are a foreign artist, you should have entertainment lawyers that truly understand both the US and your country of origin’s music business framework to help negotiate and make sure your interest is protected.
D’B anj has had to return to Africa to sign a basic distribution deal where he can make some change. This should have been done in the first place. He signed a deal with Sony Entertainment Africa this December. You could totally see the leverage he had in this music deal because the press release Sony/D’Banj put out said nothing about him being signed on as an artist. D’Banj essentially said “Sony Africa, you want and NEED me on your team. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch my back. Sign my brother K-Switch on and we can really talk.” Y’all notice all the “strategic partnership” lingo in the press release with respect to D’Banj and D’Banj’s record label? For K-Switch, he gets a multi-album deal and is tied to Sony. D’Banj, however, gets to call the shots with Sony Africa. The “strategic partnership” is code word for “we don’t know what D’Banj may really require of us but we really need him so we will make it work.” One requirement is K-Switch. The success of K-Switch will affect how much of his brand name and “strategic partnerships/alliances” D’banj does with Sony Africa. We saw this kind of leverage in Beyonce’s $50million dollar deal to a large extent. By the way, no disrespect to Sony Africa but who is Sony Africa? What exactly have they really done even for local artists in Africa up till this point? They’ve been kicking it in South Africa for how many years? How many of the artists signed to Sony Africa are household names in a relevant and huge music market like Nigeria? In the short run Nigerians have got on the music game (with no infrastructure, limited funding, corruption et. al.), they have been able to become household names across Africa. Suffice it to say that Sony Africa needs D’Banj, not the other way around. But I know you all already knew that.
Another important move D’Banj came back to Nigeria/Africa to do is open a club. He opened or is set to launch one this December. This is yet another major expense added to his signings, his music videos, and his recent establishment of a record label, but he has the fan base, as opposed to the USA, to make good money here.
Finally, he also is now putting on a Koko concert together featuring GOOD Music Artists PUSHA T, BIG Sean and God knows what other American artists will show up.
I am not impressed with any of D’Banj’s Western signings. He rushed into things and seemed to have no strategy for how exactly he wants to get Nigerian music to the top. I, however, think he now gets that he needs a truly effective strategy and is stepping back to his home base, where he belongs, in the first place, to get it together. It is certainly why I even took the time to congratulate him via twitter for his recent moves with Sony Africa. Sony Africa is a good move for D’Banj as a business owner and where he wants to take his label and artists signed to the label.
We know G.O.O.D music artists in Nigeria will get mad radio publicity, marketing and promotions, expand and build their fan base. However, in the USA, D’Banj signed to the record label of one of the biggest names in music worldwid, of which those artists are members, can’t even get American radio, television et. al to give him face time?
- Tobore Ovuorie v. Ebonylife TV: Why Mo Abudu is Most Likely Liable for Copyright Infringement
- Why Davido’s Termination of Lil’ Frosh’s Contract for Domestic Violence is a Powerful and Positive Change for Nigerian Society
- #EndSARS Protests and Your Legal Rights if Arrested While Protesting in Nigeria
- AML142: The Business of Music in North Africa
- AML 141: Meet Camille Storm, Founder of C&C Distro, a Kenyan Music Distribution Company