The main reasons why artistes sign contracts with record labels is basically for the record labels to introduce them to more opportunities, help them achieve their aim of going mainstream, and help them make more money.
This is understandable because even though music is borne out of passion and love for the art, it is a business. The music business is a real business, and it is expected to keep growing. But once a label starts to fall short of its main requirements of making its artistes grow, or perhaps begins to give preferential treatments to some artistes, those who feel neglected would begin to look for a way out.
Another reason why artistes leave their current record labels for another, or perhaps start up their own labels is because they feel they have outgrown them. This is also understandable because humans often want to move forward, and not be stuck in a place. Even the most loyal of humans eventually would leave a place he perceives to be bigger than, to seek new and bigger opportunities. Even the most well treated artiste would leave a label once they perceive that they had outgrown that label.
In the Nigeria music clime, this happens. Lil Kesh left the Olamide owned YBNL to set up his own label, YAGI, because he felt he had outgrown them, and that has continued to happen. The most recent however, is Reekado Banks leaving the Don Jazzy owned Mavin Records to set up his own label, Banks records.
So now that we have established why artistes leave their record labels to set up theirs, how then can record labels ensure that their artistes stay with them for a very long time, even till the end of their music career?
Here a three (3) ways:
1. Expand their market
One thing that would make an artiste to continue to be under a label is the assurance that their music would reach new climes. The assurance that their market is not restricted to just their home country. That means more money, more fans, and more stardom. An artiste that enjoys this would not be quick to leave even though he would want to at some point.
In Nigeria, one of the labels that have been able to do this is Chocolate City Entertainment Company. They have presence in Nigeria which takes care of the West African market, as well as in Kenya, which caters to the East African market. That is why we are very familiar with Victoria Kimani and her music even though she lives and makes music in Kenya.
2. Get affiliated with bigger global brands
An artiste that is under a record label that is affiliated to a bigger global record label would not imagine leaving (except maybe they have intentions of quitting music). This is because every artiste wants to play on the global front, and a record label that is affiliated to a bigger global record label is the easiest way to achieve that.
An example is RCA records. RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music’s four flagship labels, alongside its former long-time rival Columbia Records, Arista Records, and Epic Records. Even though RCA records is owned by SONY Music, a bigger label, another label can always strike a deal that would give them some control.
3. Offer their artistes who may want to set up their own labels an offer to be their label’s parent company
The third option is to make them ( the artistes) mouth watering offers to have control of part of, if not all of their music. This can be done by offering them an opportunity to set up their record label, but have it be under yours.
Olamide did this with Lil Kesh. After Lil Kesh left YBNL to set up YAGI, it was announced that the business of YAGI would be supervised and controlled by YBNL. So technically, Lil Kesh was still with YBNL even though he had set up YAGI.
So there you have it. How record labels can ensure their artistes stay with them for a very long time.