5 reasons why Nigerian artistes quit their record labels

Only recently, it was reported that “Reggae blues “crooner Harrysongs has dumped 5 Star Music, a label he has been signed on since 2013, following his troubles with now defunct Question Mark Records.


Harrysongs had gone ahead to create a big name for himself under the new imprint, releasing several hit singles, writing songs and collaborating with label front liner Kcee whose younger brother E-Money owns the label.


Everyone thought this was a match made in heaven as all 5 Star Music artistes were seen to be in unison, partying together, popping champagne, checking out the girls and spending lavishly in music videos.You can imagine the shock from fans when Harrysongs announced he was leaving 5 Star Music group to start his own music company called Alter Plate.

This was preceeded by Iyanya exiting Ubi Franklin’s MMMG record with the intention of starting his own record label only to end up being signed to Don Jazzy’s Mavin records.


This will not be the first nor the last time there’s  a record label vs. artiste drama in the Nigerian music industry. The famous D’Banj – Don Jazzy split in 2012 was the beginning of this trend and more drama ensued. Wande Coal soon left Don Jazzy, Wizkid left the Banky W led EME, Brymo had a long lasting court battle with Chocolate City and most recently there was a huge drama between Skales, his manager and Baseline Music. This was followed by some huge drama between singer Runtown and the owners of Ericmanny Entertainment.

With this becoming a very worrisome trend for the Nigerian music industry, we take a look at 5 causes of artiste – record label drama and possible solutions to issues like this that could jeopardize both the works of the artistes and the efforts of the label.

Here are the top 5 causes of artiste-record label drama in Nigeria:


  1. Ignorance

Most upcoming artistes are young, naive and looking for every opportunity to sign that record deal. In the case of Skales, upon the expiration of his contract with EME, Skales eagerly went ahead to sign a deal with the newly formed Baseline records. He however failed to read the fine prints that came with the deal. He took the brand new car, a house, cash advance, and upkeep allowance and somehow mortgaged his freedom. When Skales and his long-time manager were accused of financial misappropriation and he felt it was time to leave Baseline music behind, he couldn’t because he had signed a contract that will see him pay a whooping N5,000,000,000 (five billion naira) anytime he attempts to leave the label- before the expiration of his deal.


Moral: Consult with professionals and find the hidden traps before you put pen to paper on that deal. This would have prevented that ugly situation.


  1. Record label owner is also an artiste

The first law in the famous book “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene says “Never outshine your master”. In a situation where the signee and label boss are both artistes who are competing for the same spotlight, what do you think will happen? The one with more power and resources will channel all of that capability into promoting his own works rather than promote the upcoming act whom he has promised to nurture. Apart from D’Banj himself, which other artiste became big by signing under him? Don Jazzy has been the only one who has managed to be a producer cum artiste and record label boss that has nurtured and groomed talent into the limelight while staying highly relevant himself in the music industry. The Nigerian music industry needs to evolve to a place where there are professional music executives doing the work as managers, promoters and A&R, not one man running the whole show.


  1. Greed and pride

So the artiste becomes big after heavy support and investment from the record label and then he begins to look down upon the people whose money led to his or her successful musical career.  This leads to discord and a fall out between artiste and management.

Moral: Loyalty is key. Never bite the fingers that fed you, you might get hungry again someday.


  1. Unfulfilled promises

This can happen on both the part of the record label and the artiste. The artiste might say he will give 4 albums in 3 years just to get signed or the label could say we will give you 70% of your earnings only to hold on to 50% of it. The unfulfilled promises are mostly a result of greed. If there are clear terms stating the duties and obligations of both acts, such incidences will be greatly reduced.

Moral: Integrity is key. Always keep to your word.


  1. Lack of appreciation

As trivial as it may sound, a lack of appreciation could be a major reason for fallout between the artiste and his label. Ever wondered why Nigerian artistes give accolades to the label bosses? These shout outs feed theego of the top dogs and is disguised in the form of showing appreciation. Isn’t it the reason why Harrysongs is leaving 5 star music? He said he’s been writing songs for someone who doesn’t know music and doesn’t even show appreciation for his works.


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