Business of Music Rants and Bants

Put A Label on It

We live in a complex society, so the best way to make it simpler is to put a label on it.
You know; someone is single, or taken, or it’s complicated. It’s either salt or sugar. You’re either gay or straight (among many other options). There are labels for everything. And a thing which isn’t labelled is feared, because one doesn’t simply know what it is capable of.
This is the same with indie artists who don’t have a record label.
Lemme break it down
Indie artist ; independent artist. Musician who isn’t signed to a record label or has a recording deal.
Record label: is an entire body of music that deals with the making ( breaking) of an artist.
Record labels are simply companies that buy artists to make money off them. Well, it’s not so harsh. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The record label provides artist  with a stylist, recording studio, concerts, shows, interviews, makeup, band, video  and many other necessary things. And in turn, they make money off artist through  projects such as tours, concerts, album sales etc.
Both parties benefit.
Record labels come in various forms. There’s the kingpins riding the entire wave in the form of Major labels. As at 2012, there are just three major labels ; Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. Then there are vanity labels that give people the impression that a label is owned by an artiste …but it’s actually not. Great example is the entire Young Money, which  is under Cash Money Records, which is under Universal Studios, a major record label. Then there are Independent Record Labels, which are smaller record labels which do not belong to any of the major labels and do not adhere to corporate structure. They could also be labels dedicated to the promotion of non-mainstream music.
Why a label: 
I’m in Ghana, and we don’t see much of an influence of a label . The closest you can have to a label is BBnZ, I dare say. However, A label is necessary in a musicians life because you need the push. A team is just not enough. You can’t risk putting your career in the hands of the guys you used to play ball with in the ghetto. Yes, they know your story. Yes, they’ve got your back. But they definitely don’t have the necessary know how and links to elevate your music.
Labels are all for pushing in new music, whatever the genre, and making it big. So your local pub plays your song, your friends know it, and perhaps a few people in your neighborhood recognize you in the waakye queue, but is that really where you want your music to be? Definitely not, you need a label to manage you.
Why no labels in Ghana ;
I can very much easily say lack of resources, as well as lack of motivation to promote music etc. Sarkcess, Lynx and BBnZ are all record labels, but are also not. To me they are more like indie labels that manage just an artiste or two. Making them more or less camps or teams. Even if there are other artistes under these camps there isn’t much publicity on them. thus, doesn’t it make them fail as a record label?
Should Ghana invest more in the music business:
Definitely ! The music business and all other businesses involving art forms is a gold mine. It’s about time Ghanaian investors looked into channeling resources here other than the basic gold, cocoa, oil… Because, that is washed up.
The azonto revolution for instance could have easily raked in a lot… But y’all had to let it starve and die.
What should Ghanaian musicians do?
Since it’s basically impossible to be signed in Ghana (trust, i know some pretty dope musicians who were “signed” to some of these labels, and their arts just died cos the people in charge were not focusing on the talent)… Get a great team of people who know how! Not your boys from the hood. If you need an investor, get one… And plan out your music career and where you want to be at what time…. Unless You’re Just playing around with your music… Then, sure do you boo boo kitty. But get a team, a great one. and build yourself to be signed by one of these great ones outside the country.
How to get recognized outside Ghana
The internet bro! the internet is the gateway to success, guaranteed you use it well. Create social media platforms for your art. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is a great way to develop a fan base and share your music. YouTube and Soundcloud have pretty much established themselves as ways to get your music out there. I find almost all my new music from Soundcloud and if my testimony isn’t enough, take a cue from Justin Beiber with YouTube.
however, don’t let the internet be your only platform. that could be a limitation rather than an elevation. Do shows, give out free CD’s, perform somewhere, anywhere. Make yourself known. Then very soon you wouldn’t be the only one sharing your music, others would be sharing it too. the more traffic there is about you, the higher your chances of making it.
So strap up guys. Don’t  give up, and don’t limit yourself. Being signed is not the highest point of your music career but its definitely a huge step towards it.
Put a label on it.

Benewaah is the lead curator and editor at Harmattan Rain. Her love for music is closely rivaled by her love for plantain.

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