In the Nigerian music scene, the arrival of Sony Music, Universal Music, and the partnership between Chocolate City and Warner Music has given some artist the desired push that is required to make them more visible in Africa and the globe at large. The major record companies mentioned above are certainly not the only entities with the magic wand, as major music distribution companies have also thrown their weight behind the vibrant Nigerian pop culture. These are some of the artists who have been major beneficiaries of these deals in Nigeria.
The Odogwu of Africa was once an artist who felt somewhat underrated as the scene before his reign was dominated by Afrobeats giants, Wizkid and Davido. Until 2017 when he inked a deal with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records (a subsidiary of Warner Music) and then dropped the Outside album in January 2018, which was later supported by the massive hit, “Ye“.
He has since become the hottest cultural export from Nigeria, making stunning appearances on classy American TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, and on top radio shows like Power 105’s Breakfast Club and Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning. To crown it all, he clinched the most coveted award on the planet this year in grand style. The Grammy win would have been a pipe dream without the necessary connections and lobbying from Atlantic. The African Giant album garnered over 600 million streams across all the major streaming platforms, while his recent Twice as Tall classic album is at 175 million streams and still counting.
After the release of his debut album, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, the Ogun state born singer was still a household name in Nigeria. The YBNL signee’s rise to global stardom was attained after his boss, Olamide, signed a joint venture deal with Empire Distribution in 2020.
Fireboy turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of the YBNL-Empire partnership as his 2020 sophomore album, Apollo was a smash hit and drew the attention of American music industry veterans like Timbaland and And Ebro Darden of Hot 97. In the same year, with the influence of Empire, his song “Scatter” was included as a soundtrack in the FIFA 21 game, alongside Rema and Burna Boy.
Other than Fireboy DML, the YBNL boss himself reaped the fruits of his own business dealings with Empire Distribution with the release of his massively successful album Carpe Diem which did over 195 million streams across all platforms last year. The strategic playlist placement secured for Olamide and Fireboy ensured that both artist were made visible on key platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
Although one might want to argue that Davido and Wizkid both had a considerable boost from their deals with Sony/RCA. But when you follow the trail of both their careers, Wizkid and Davido were both dominant forces in the African music scene and were also cross-continental successes before their alignment with Sony.
Is a major label deal or a distribution deal an absolute necessity for an artist to rise to global stardom?
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