Audu Maikori, KCee, others discuss challenges of running label in Nigeria

Audu Maikori, Group CEO of Chocolate City [Photo Credit: TheTrentOnline]
Audu Maikori, Group CEO of Chocolate City [Photo Credit: TheTrentOnline]

Two record label owners, Audu Maikori and Tunji Balogun aka Tee Billz, singer Kingsley Okonkwo aka KCee, and others have lamented the challenges of running a viable record label in Nigeria.

The trio were joined by several other top Nigerian musicians on an Instagram live session spearheaded by MadeMen record boss, Ubi Franklin, on Saturday night.

The discussion which was tagged ‘Why Record Labels & Artistes Fail’, highlighted the issues record label owners in Nigeria face as well as the reasons behind the strained relationships with their signees.

Common Mistakes

Maikori kicked off the discussion by saying that record labels do not make their contracts flexible enough to accommodate the growth of their artistes.

He also noted that communication is very key in sustaining the relationship between a record label and its artistes.

According to him, after he signed his first artiste onto Chocolate City, which has Paul Okeugo and his brother, Yakubu Maikori, as partners, within three to six months of producing his first song in 2005, his signee became a super star.

“Suddenly everybody was chasing him, all the record labels wanted to sign a deal with him.

“Any record label could have gone to him to say, who the F is Chocolate City? They don’t have money, they don’t have much to offer you. We can offer you this, we can offer you that.

“Put yourself in the artiste’s position, you have a hundred thousand streams of download after your first song and you’re still not driving and someone is offering to take you to Bentley standard. Would you stay and be driving your okada because you want to stay through to a contract?” he said.

Maikori added that record labels should consider going into partnership with their artistes to build a larger entity which could give them a ‘bigger pie’ to share.

He said, “Chocolate City is still existing 15 years after, the longest ever, because of partnership. It is not because I was a genius or because it is my company.”

“There were many times where the label almost collapsed, it was because there was a partnership of many people plus the vision of other people that we’re still alive”.

Flashy lifestyle

In his submission, Limpopo crooner, KCee, said educating artistes beyond knowing how to sing should be held sacrosanct before they are signed into a record label.

He said many artistes are too eager and excited to get signed onto a label that they pay little attention to the content of their contract.

The 41-year-old musician said many musicians are not patient enough to understand what is expected of them, as well as what they should expect; so they believe it is going to be a smooth ride all through.

Paul Okoye, the half of the now defunct twin group, Psquare, also echoed Kcee’s thoughts.

He said impatience and greed are the major reasons why many artistes fallout with their labels early in their career.

According to him, many artistes attach so much expectations to getting signed as an artiste in Nigeria.

“Somebody like me that came from nothing will be expecting that signing a contract means he can start driving exotic cars and shutting down clubs.

“If this is not happening fast for them, they begin to look for bigger deals elsewhere, with the mindset that their label is not doing them well,” he said.

The Instagram live sessions also featured inputs from several other Nigerian music industry stakeholders like Mike Ugwu who is currently the General Manager at Sony Music.


In recent times, several A-list Nigerian musicians have fallen out with their record labels.

Singer Eseghine Allen, popularly known as Orezi parted ways with Sprisal Entertainment and Culbeed Music, where he started his musical career. His, was a bitter exit.

Shortly after, he launched his own record label, Ghen Ghen Music in 2018.

Speaking in an interview with Hip TV at the time, the singer said most Nigerian label owners know nothing about the music business.

In 2017, Kizz Daniel also had a bitter split with his then record label, G-Worldwide, after a dispute that was later settled in court.

The ‘Woju’ singer created his own label, FLYBOY I.N.C. and changed his stage name from Kiss Daniel to Kizz Daniel.

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