Every day by day on this platform, I realize that nearly all the upcoming artists reaching out to me, are looking to join a record label in Nigeria.
They care less about several measures and ways you are trying to show them, about how they could grow as an indie artist and make so much money, especially now that the internet is offering unlimited opportunities.
However, I must say at this point that, I recommend most of them because of the effort they are putting to make great music and also promote them, whether on or offline.
But they also need to understand that, making great music and promoting it is never enough if you are looking for ways to join a record label in Nigeria.
Forget about legends, fairy tales, and cooked-up stories of how a particular artist was picked by a record label in the slums, simply because he did a freestyle that attracted the label owner, without even being to the studio before.
I always say and will continue to say that ‘man-know-man’ or ‘connections’ is one of the basics, when it comes to how to join a record label here in Nigeria.
If you research, you will gain the understanding that 80% of the member of a particular record label has at one time or the other had relationships or is related in one way or another.
Now one of the ways these relationships are established is through recommendations.
That is to say, a relation to so-so and so the owner of a record label recommended so-so and so artiste with no other option than to sign the recommended.
Now the remaining 20% of artists who are signed to a record label, achieved it through consistent years of commitment and hard work.
Let me not fail to add quickly that, every record label never fails to conduct interviews with their potential candidates for a record deal, before signing them.
Therefore, most of the points you will discover in this article will serve as a guide, in case you find yourself sitting in front of record label executives about to sign that record deal you’ve been praying all your life for.
So if signing a record deal is your aim and you belong to the 80% category of artists who have connections, then this article is not for you.
But if you belong to the 20% category and must make it through consistent commitment and hard work, then this article will help you to learn how to join a record label in Nigeria.
How to join a record label in Nigeria.
If you want to join a record label in Nigeria, you must ensure you either make good music and promote it to be noticed by them, or you are connected to those that matter in a record label.
Also, you must put to practice the 15 points I will take the time to explain below.
1. Be at least halfway in your career.
Before any record label in Nigeria will allow you to join them, they have to be certain that you have at least gone a little far, or are halfway in your music career.
And the only way of demonstrating this is by releasing and promoting at least various singles, EP’s or even an album.
‘When you think about a record deal, you should think about a group of business men, with capital, who are desperately in need of a commodity or product to buy and sell in order to make so much profit.
And you must consider yourself, the artiste, as that commodity or product.
Another thing you must know is that every businessmen in this world are looking for a commodity or product that is in popular demand.
Or simply put, a product people are already buying in the market.
Of course, if you don’t make yourself that product, there is no way they are going to buy you because you will not help them to make their profit.
And the only way you can make yourself a product in the music market is by having songs people are already playing and probably singing along to.
2. Your amount of freedom.
Although you wont require to work full time when you join a record label in Nigeria.
There always comes a point in time, an artiste will have to spend days, weeks, or probably months away.
Either in the studio recording songs or out on tours performing one concert or the other for his record label.
For this reason, before you can join a record label in Nigeria, the owners must know who is ready to pursue any music career opportunity without any hesitation.
This doesn’t mean that you should give up that day job which is sustaining your livelihood and take on music as a full-time job.
The point is that, record labels might decline interest in working with you once they recognize that, your job will not give you the chance of concentrating on doing those things that will generate income for them.
For instance, a banker can never be a musician. Of course, we all know the nature of their work.
It might interest you to know that lots of female musicians will continue to give up their marriages, because of the limitations or restrictions their husbands might put on their movement.
It is a known fact that a sane husband will never allow his wife to leave the house for days, all in the name of going to perform in a concert when she is supposed to be taking care of the baby.
Imagine then what loss a record company will get, if they sign such a wife to their record label.
So always be mindful of your day job before you think about signing a record deal.
3. Record-quality of the songs you have made so far.
Lots of upcoming artists make the mistake of recording poor or low-quality songs and releasing it to the public.
Some even put out demos and conceive the idea that they are trying to let people know how musically fit they are. but permit me to let you know that, no matter how good you are at singing or writing songs, a poorly recorded track will turn record labels off from listening to your song in order to discover that talent buried therein.
Record labels do not expect an artiste to demonstrate their singing or song-writing talent, all they want is an overall display of an artist professionalism which can only be evidenced in the quality of songs an artiste put out.
So make sure that you raise a reasonable budget and go searching for the best studio and producer who will give you the highest possible quality of audio recording.
4. Your personality and mental power
One of the things you will encounter as you climb up the ladder of your musical career is meeting and interacting with so many personalities, and for that reason, your own personality really matters.
Record labels are concerned about the way you behave when you come in contact with, especially, those they are looking up to in society.
Forget the legend that the majority of musicians are from the streets and as a result that they are prone to be rude most of the time. Some of these stories are made up by the record labels themselves in order to help their artists identify with the street.
No record label will ever sign an artiste who will be causing trouble here and there that will make them keep losing supporters and fans.
Secondly being a successful musician often involves engaging in lots of situations that require brain work. It doesn’t only end in writing, recording, and performing songs, but it will require you to do so quickly and accurately in a short while.
Your label might call upon you for an urgent collaboration with a very big foreign artiste, and you have a very limited time to compose your own part of the song. If you are unable to do that then you are no fit for the music business.
What I am trying to tell you here will not happen after you are signed to a record label; it is an integral part of the interview you must undergo during the process of being a potential or proposed candidate for a record deal.
Yes! They will surely test you.
They will give you a topic and a very limited time to compose a song, and your inability to do that will be the reason they will find a way of tactically telling you off, for example collecting your contact details and promising to contact you later, because no record label will ever tell you to your face that you have failed their interview and reveal where or how you’ve done so.
That’s a very big secret am revealing to you.
5. Your musical techniques.
Musical techniques do not just end at the ability to compose or sing different notes, record labels are more interested in artists who are able to create the kind of music that grasps people’s attention; and of course doing that requires techniques.
For instance you need a technique to help you understand that we human beings are so emotional, that is why we are quick to relate with people who are going through the same thing we are going through, the same thing we are going through.
It is certain that we are all going through so many things in our individual lives, sometimes those things are the reason we are happy and sometimes they are the reasons we remain sad.
And the funniest part of it is that we are always on the lookout for the people who are going through the same thing we are going through in order to relate with them.
Relating with them don’t usually mean sharing those joys or pains but the idea of knowing someone else is going through the same thing we are presently going through makes us have a sense of belonging.
It makes us feel human. “After all we are all in this together” we always conclude.
Once record labels discover through your songs that you have the techniques that help you create the kind of music people can relate with, they will stop at nothing to sign you.
However, one very important musical techniques you must develop in order to attract record labels is the ability to hear and interpret notes.
6. Your studio recording skills.
Do you know that before any record label signs an artiste, they must put that artiste in a recording studio and access his or her recording skills?
The most important skill they will access is the artiste ability to accurately sing over or voice a beat in as few takes as possible.
They do this because they don’t want to spend more than necessary on studio session fees.
All record labels need an artiste that can perfectly kill a beat in just few takes, and if you are the kind of artiste that spends more than one session to voice a single track, then you have to grow your career as an indie artiste and forget about a record deal because no record label will ever sign you.
7. Stage performance skills.
Record labels are always on the lookout to sign artists who are able to inspire their fans through their onstage performance.
It might interest you to know that majority of the A-List artiste you are seeing today were picked by their record labels while they were performing on stage. That is why you will rarely meet an artiste signed to a label messing up during stage performance.
Some of them will go as far as having their representatives mixed up with the audience to hear what comments fans are giving about upcoming artiste who are performing in a gig.
And once they find the artiste with the right vibe they will ensure they contact him even before the show is over.
Therefore you must step up your stage performance skills if you are really looking to join a record label in Nigeria.
8. Your mindset about success
If you want to be signed to a record label, you must ensure you are a very success-minded person who is committed to digging out a positive value in every negative situation. Besides that, you must also be found to be a very dedicated soul who is willing to build mutual relationships with fellow musicians.
You might be thinking; how will record labels be able to discover whether I have a mindset for success?
But I assure you there various ways each and every record label employ to test the mindset of the proposed musician they want to work with.
For instance, they might prolong giving you the papers to sign and put on that ‘come today come tomorrow attitude’ to see whether you will grow tired and give up contacting them; or even worse start calling and saying unkind words or send insulting text messages.
They can even set up another label to reach out to you while that is going on to see if you will agree to work with that other label.
But if you are a success-minded person, you will follow them up with all amount of positivity, and once they confirm that you are a success-minded person, they will start working with you instantly.
My brother, there is no successful record label in this whole world, even here in Nigeria, that will ever invest in any musician who exhibits negative attitudes and showcases pessimism.
9. How committed and dedicated you are to moving your career forward
So many musicians think that once they finish signing a record deal, all they will have to do is hit the studio to make the necessary recordings agreed upon in the deal.
And afterward, travel to one big country and live the big life they’ve been dreaming about.
That the only time they will have to respond to their label’s calls is when tours or shows pop up.
But if you want to make yourself a very potential candidate for record labels, you must eschew a high level of commitment to your career. As well as have an all-consuming passion to become a very successful musician.
Record labels have a way of discovering this criterion in upcoming musicians.
For instance, in this internet age, an upcoming musician who wants to be successful must be an active social media user.
If he has an official website too, then he has built a room for record labels to follow him heel to heel like a boy who is trying to secure a new girlfriend.
If you want to attract them more, you can be uploading screenshots of your site’s weekly traffic analysis.
Then when a record label sees the high number of people who are visiting your site, there is nothing that will stop them from deciding to work with you.
The number of likes and followers you have in your social media handles is also a way of helping record labels know how dedicated you are to your career.
I have so many upcoming artists who are musically fit that am following up on my platform, and one thing I’ve noticed is that most of them are not regular internet users.
They do not even care to post their own songs on group chats and urge members to listen or watch and rate, or even take a second to comment on other members’ posts.
And I find it so funny when I think of their keeping willingness to sign a record deal.
My brother, even if you don’t realize, there are lots of sponsors and record label agencies keeping an eye on millions of upcoming artists online.
Immediately they realize you are among those artists that are not committed and dedicated to their musical career, you can never be on their list of potential candidates for a record deal.
So therefore, if you want to increase your chances of signing a record deal, make yourself available in the internet community at all times.
Make sure you post and repost your songs almost every day on all your social media handles. Sign up or join countless online music groups and forums where you can also post and repost your songs every now and then.
Set aside a little funds and get your own official website where you can upload all your songs in one space and share them to your social media handles, groups, and forums you belong, and you never know when a record label agency will spot and start following you about to find out how committed and dedicated you will be in helping them to make their money when they sign you.
On the other hand, take advantage of the offline community and have your music in clubs, pubs, and DJ mixes and perform in more gigs in order to give proof of how committed you are to make it as a musician, and the sky will definitely be your starting point.
10. How big is your fan base/database?
Your fan base is the number of people who are following you on your social media handles.
While your database is the list of names, emails, phone numbers, and other important information you possess about your fans that can enable you to communicate directly with them at any given time.
You can achieve the former through a social media handle, while you can only achieve the latter when you have your own official website.
The former has limitations but the latter does not, therefore, the latter has a greater advantage over the former.
What am trying to say here is that your database will enable you to reach out more easily and faster to your fans.
Your fan base will consist of people who had either changed or lost their account or are just a bunch of once-in-a-year internet users who are even browsing Facebook on free mode.
These kinds will never have the time to even listen to talk less of downloading your newly promoted track. But through your database, you will be able to sort out those who are responding to emails or those who have lost their phone contacts.
For this reason, record labels are more willing to work with musicians who have a database than those who have a fan base.
11. How strong is your offline following?
Yes! Record labels will always keep their ears to the ground in order to discover how many people are talking about you in your locality.
There are generally 2 reasons why this is so:
- Offline following generally requires much more effort, than getting a long list of friends or followers on social media. Once you are able to achieve this, record companies will have proof of your work ethic.
- It gives them proof that you have a good understanding of how best to promote your shows and increase the physical sales of your music.
Once these two reasons are there, record companies will know that they only need to invest additional resources towards moving your career into the non-local markets and areas and that in essence will relieve a whole lot of stress.
12. Your overall reputation in the industry
It is very certain that record companies will always look to know what others are relating about their experiences while working with you than what you tell them about yourself.
They might secretly seek and discover the little people like your producer to inquire about your behavior or attitude while working in the studio, or even secretly interview your employer to know your overall attitude in your place of work.
No record label in their right mind will ever decide to work with an artiste who is not fond of taking corrections or is abusive to people, especially the elderly.
Above all else, record companies will never work with an artiste who is known to be disloyal. In fact ‘loyalty’ is the watchword of every record company. Therefore the more loyal you are to those you work with, the more you increase your chances of signing a record deal with any record company that has picked interest in you.
For this reason, you must ensure that you guard your reputation with all your life by always adding value to your character around those you interact with and ensure that you don’t burn any bridges that are helping you to cross ahead.
13. The kinds of people you have worked with
Even if you already have a very good reputation in the industry, you can jeopardize it by hanging around or associating yourself with musicians who have already established a very bad reputation for themselves.
Record labels try so hard to avoid these kinds of musicians because they pose so much risk that usually brings no reward. And they will definitely think you the same if they realize you are part of their crew.
That is why you must try as much as possible to avoid such people and surround yourself with those whose aim and purpose is to become very successful in the music industry.
14. Your knowledge of the music business
Most musicians do not understand the fact that music is business, and for that reason, one has to equip himself with business knowledge, in order to succeed in the music industry.
And it’s very sad to discover that so many musicians fill their music career with lots of guesswork and trials, which brings so many errors and regrets in the long run.
Record companies hate this category of musicians and will never choose to work with them, even for a day.
It is not all about the consistent actions you are taking to reach your goals in the music world, but it’s all about the basic steps you are taking to secure a long-term successful and flourishing musical career.
I get so upset when I see lots of upcoming artists showing a nonchalant attitude towards learning about the music business.
Most of them conclude that “those who will blow will blow” and for that reason turn down every opportunity of reading articles online, about how to become a successful musician.
As well as enrolling in online courses, webinars or even taking chances of uploading and promoting their music on several platforms.
When record companies discover that you have a knowledge base of the music industry, as well as have invested in moving your music career forward, they will be more likely to work with you for the following reasons:
A. They know that they won’t have to waste additional money to hire someone who will coach them on how the music business works.
B. They also know that you possess the ambition, commitment, and work ethic that is required to grow your music career.
Are you aware of the fact that thousands of people are in school taking on music as a course?
Paying so much on tuition and handouts, but just a token to enroll in an online course or webinar seems so hard for someone who wants to succeed in the music industry.
Let’s not even talk about investing in online music promotion.
Business is all about investing, and investing means spending money.
And the positive aspect of it is that there is always a gain or payback for all the money you spend when you engage in any business, including the music business.
So never let loose of the opportunity to learn and spend if you want to attract record companies for a deal.
15. How fanatics are your fans?
First, let’s look at the word ‘fanatic’.
Fanaticism is another word for ‘zeal or enthusiasm’, so having fanatic fans means those fans who are so zealous or enthusiastic about you and your music.
They are those fans who are following you up bumper to bumper, to know when you are dropping a new single track or music video.
They do not only follow you up but are also willing and ready to buy your records.
In short, they are the fans who do things like stream your music online, buy and wear your band’s and t-shirts, attend your shows, and moreover tell other people about you.
For example, those who are screaming and posing as Marlians are not all around Naira Marley’s fanatics.
But those who are streaming his music online, going to his shows as well as following up on all Naira Marley is doing, even the maze he is amazing.
Record labels are very aware of the massive and long-term profits, that will be coming from a musician, who has a very strong following of true fanatics.
So in case you do not have many fans at this point of your career, begin focusing your efforts more on transforming what little fan base you have into ‘fanatics’.
And once record labels discover this, they will stop at nothing to have you as their artiste.
Please share this article to help a fellow upcoming musician know the things they must do to join a record label in Nigeria.