One major challenge in most industries is money. Let’s say investors or someone who believes in another’s dream so much, they invest their hard-earned money. For most Young artists, after struggling underground for so long and unwilling to give up on their dreams, any person who comes around posing as a helper or investor is welcomed on board.
Recently, conversations about artists- record label fallout has been on the rise with no one to completely blame for such problems. Artists are too desperate, record label owners are too ‘business-minded’. In most cases, once a helper identifies these young enthusiastic acts, the artists feel the need to pay them back for their support by all means possible; only this time they pay a little higher than they bargained for.
Loyalty is the currency young artists trade with aside the talent. In order to give the label an assurance of the gratefulness they sign on their remaining entire life and career life to such labels with the hopes of getting support their entire life from such labels.
Now, two or three years into the for life contract, artists start seeing the picture clearer, the euphoria that comes with being signed or supported dwindles. Not to mention the high demands from the label. People are bound to misunderstand each other which is a normal and natural phenomenon. In the beginning, both parties will try and solve it amicably, but as time goes on the conversation changes, tolerance level reduces and that’s when artists start thinking of an exit plan.
Not long ago, one such “for life” movement that has had a tumultuous fallout has been the SM4LYf movement spearheaded by Shatta Wale. Like his militants, Ghanaians also expected their friendship and union to go on for life since everything about them shows that their bond transcends business. Yet that was not how it ended.
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Also, like Shatta Wale and his militants, there are other young artists who have signed for life to new record labels who do not even have a track record of successfully producing an artist’s unto the market. No experiences gained to help smoothen or shorten the journey for the artist. Trial and error until the artist wakes up and says “that’s enough”.
Personally, I think one-way artists can show their appreciation is by doing their work so well, being a cash cow, and a good reference point for the label, than to sign off their entire career life when unsure how a year will even look like.
Story by Matilda Mensah Marfo