When I wrote on how to solve music distribution problem in Kenya, what I had in mind was a situation where we have home-grown system to distribute the artistic projects of our musical creatives. A proper distribution system has remained a hard target, that is why our artists see value in signing “lucrative deals” with the major labels. Inasmuch as such majors provide an opportunity for exposure to a larger audience, signing a deal with them may at times, as in the case of Xtatic, leave the musician frustrated.
Xtatic is a Kenyan female rapper who made news a few years back after releasing a hit single and got the attention of Sony Music Africa which signed her to the record label and also added her to Sony’s artist management and music publishing company, ROCKSTAR4000, the same than manages AliKiba. As a result she moved to SA and did a couple of singles including one with AKA. However the rate at which she was releasing content was slow and most of her fans almost “forgot about Xtatic”. She would later attribute it to the failure of her management to get her enough shows for increased exposure. So much was the issue that she left Sony’s management company and settled on a new manager based in US, called Kobie Kiambu through his Broadview Corporation company.
Through Kiambu, she was able to release her “Let Me Explain” mixtape which was typically expressing her being sorry for letting down her fans by providing less content. The album received positive reviews, in Kenya and Africa. But, remember her contract with Sony is pending..meaning she can’t release any commercial project. At some point she, in fact verbally, expressed her intention to leak music. That’s how a record contract could end up into frustrations. This happens with even global artists, just like it happened with Lil Wayne who fell out with Birdman and has had problem releasing albums. For Xtatic, her problems heightened to the point that she had trouble paying her rent, and she risks her property being auctioned!
Why does this happen? There are so many artists who have had success. In fact, the same Sony Music has signed Tanzania’s Ali Kiba and Nigeria’s Davido to global music distribution deals. Maybe their problems are yet to come but hopefully not. Putting things into perspective, it requires an artist to have a competent management before signing such record deals plus, it would be an added advantage when instead of signing as an artist, you do so with your company which will become an imprint of the label. That way, some problems will be easier to solve. Remember, most record labels seem not to mind the conflict of interest that arises when they act as your management. Still, the most important bit is to ensure that you get another body as your publisher, if possible, unless the contract expressly indicate issues to do with your advance payment as a songwriter- in which case, you must ensure they pay you well.