With the benefit and perspective that only time can afford us in hindsight, Wizkid’s departure from Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) is still one of the best music business decisions made by a Nigerian in recent years.
After signing for the Banky W-led house in 2009, the singer showed immense growth, releasing the classic ‘Superstar” album in 2011. That project has been rated as one the best pop albums to ever grace the Nigerian market. The album had numerous singles, with 'Tease Me/Bad Guys', 'Don't Dull', 'Gidi Girl,' 'Love My Baby', 'Pakurumo' and 'Oluwa Lo Ni' becoming continental hit singles.
In 2012, the agitation from Wizkid to take charge of his career started. The singer was fed up with limitations and the way his finances was setup. According to an insider, EME which is owned by Banky W and Segun Demuren gets 50% from his income; and Osagie Osarenkhoe Okunkpolor, Wizzy’s ex-manager who introduced him to Banky after big record labels like Mo-Hits and Storm records rejected him, also got 25% from his money. Osagie was later fired by Wizkid, installing Godwin Tom as his manager.
That feeling later led to an all-out issue which gathered reportage in 2013. Rumors flew about the bitterness in the camp. Wizkid has grown bigger than the label, and has set his sights on international penetration. It also didn’t help that he now possessed the Midas touch, turning everything into Gold. He had grown too big, and wanted more control over his career.
Speaking to Olisa Adibua in 2014 on his relationship with the label that groomed and launched him into stardom, he said ‘we are still family, we would still continue doing business together, , and are all like my big brothers, it’s a family thing, so we’ll definitely keep doing business.’
When asked soon he’ll quit the label, Wizkid explained: ‘I’ve been with E.M.E for 5 years, so I don’t know what soon is, because when we started the whole thing, it was to build an empire so everyone could grow, is doing his thing, Banky is doing his thing too, we got and , I got Starboy going on, so everyone is just trying to expand and grow at the end of the day.’
‘Yes, this is pretty much my last album with E.M.E’ Wizkid declared.
The split happened that year, but under the condition that he releases one more album for EME. And so, the 2014 self-titled LP “Ayo (Joy)” was born. The album was preceded by the singles ‘Jaiye Jaiye’, ‘On Top Your Matter’, ‘One Question’, ‘Joy’, ‘Bombay’ and ‘Show You the Money’. It later birthed the smash hit ‘Ojuelegba’ single.
From its release date on iTunes, the album has stayed at the World Music iTunes Top albums charts selling at $9.99 dollars. With the absence of access to real data, we will have to rely on intelligent assumptions to get by. At the least, Wizkid’s “Ayo” album will rake in 50,000 copies. Multiplying that by the original price of $9.99, and we get $499, 500. Converting that into naira using the pre-inflation conversion rate of $1 = N190, and we get a whooping N94.5 million. Subtract the 30% Apple service charge of N28.3 million, and we get N66.6 million.
This figure above is exclusive of singles. But going deeper, we can also isolate the biggest single of the album, ‘Ojuelegba’, and provide a rough estimate for sales.
The song ‘Ojuelegba’, with all the Drake feature and promotion, which is sold at $0.99 on iTunes, will have probably sold a 100,000 copies, giving us $99,000. This gives EME the take home cash of N18 million.
All of these is exclusive of streaming and other forms of publishing that have been carried out on the singles. There’s also Youtube and all its rewards and advertising systems.
Wizkid’s exploits in the international scene has brought more people globally gravitating to his music. That brings a lot of eyes on his last project available on digital platforms, with each stream and purchase continuously funnelling money into EME’s account. Throw that in with the rise of local stores e.g MTN Music Plus, and the CRBT gains, and you have quite the sum.
Wizkid has done well for himself, and so has EME too.