Is Iyanya's Mavin signing a good move or a worthless investment?
For a long time, Nigerian artists haven't been able to sustain longevity in the industry.
He will make my top 10 in that time span, probably in the top 5 if you start your considerations from around 2010 or 2011.
He is also responsible for one of the biggest and best selling songs in Nigerian history.
Acknowledgements behind, I am of the opinion that he is past his peak, musically and just as a brand.
The industry has had a bit of a facelift since his time at the top.
It is also important to note that Nigerian artists haven't been able to sustain longevity in the industry. I don't want to name any names but I think it is a fact that can be largely undisputed (Let’s leave this for another discussion).
In any case, Iyanya has made the decision to sign on with Don Jazzy and Mavin Records and just off the top, I'm going to come out and say it was by far the best possible move; for Iyanya, for the Mavin family and for our industry.
The fact that this deal went through in the first place, to me, shows that our industry is growing up very quickly.
Now, as I have pointed out before, I think Iyanya is past his peak and I'm not out here expecting Kukere 2.0 but what this deal has done is make a statement; for Mavin Records especially, this sole decision has made them indisputably the top label in Nigeria.
No Nigerian label in the past has signed a superstar from another top label before.
Mavin Records basically signed Iyanya from Triple MG, which is another one of the top Nigerian Labels, and is also co owned by Iyanya.
The closest we have had to such a deal was Tiwa Savage signing to Mavin Records, which was not really the same situation but also ironically involved Mavin Records.
The deal with Iyanya is less about the actual results they can produce for each other but the statement of intent from both parties to lead the Nigerian music industry down a path of structure and order which to this day is sorely missing.
While not at his peak, Iyanya remains one of the biggest artists and most marketable brands in Nigeria and just the announcement of thebimpending partnership with Nigeria's premiere label already worked some early wonders for his young Mavin career.
You see, in the music industry abroad or in the US, artists get signed to labels, when they blow up and get to their peak, they renegotiate their deals, if an agreement cannot be reached, another big label will most likely buy out their contract and give them a better deal.
If these artistes are at their peak and they display strong business or talent spotting skills, the major label creates them a small subsidiary label to manage (although those small labels, e.g. Shady Records and G-Unit, answer to the majors, so the control of the artist is not as much as it might seem).
In Nigeria, however, there are no major labels; as cliché as it sounds.
We came close with Kennis Music and Storm Records back in the day but even those were missing the most important reason a major label is called a major label (more of that another day).
You see, in Nigeria, for the most part, major artists mostly either own or co-own their own label.
The ones who don't own or co-own are mostly the major source of revenue and relevance for the labels their signed to.
Now, remember how we stated previously that Nigerian superstar artistes don't have longevity?
How can a label solely focused on one or 2 superstar artistes stay relevant after their superstars are past their peaks?
Again, that discussion is for another day. The point is that, in Nigeria, artists have not been able to last long enough and the labels consequently haven't been able to do so as well.
What has also happened in the past is that artists who own their own labels in Nigeria begin to sign new artists once they start to sense that they might be past their peak, again, I won't give examples, I think you can find examples if you look around (I must point out that there have been a few recent high profile exceptions to this).
For artists who are signed to labels where they're most likely the crown jewel, once they sense their peak is passing by and they start getting less special treatment from the label (or in some cases if there are contract disputes), theydecide to form their own labels and automatically try to become business men.
Needless to say, this has largely not been a winning strategy.
The alternative to the strategy above is exactly what Iyanya and Mavin Records have thought up, which is simply, a partnership a superstar artist who is past his peak to a strong Nigerian label which, despite their current status did not pass off the chance to strengthen their position and roster even further.
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