The impact of an international label on the growth and expansion of afrobeat across the world cannot be overemphasized, hence this question, is International Label Still a Benchmark for Afrobeat Global Dominance?
Afrobeats is a tree covering a musical style in Africa while Afrobeat is a genre of West African collective sounds like Fuji, highlife music with a touch of American jazz and funk, traditionally pioneered by Fela Kuti, the two words over time have been used interchangeably which is very wrong as both words mean two different things.
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Afrobeat has been rapidly gaining ground in the U.S. airwaves for the past few years, In the late 2010s, international record labels began to venture into Afrobeat artists with funds.
In 2016, Davido signed a record deal with Sony’s RCA Records, becoming the first Nigerian New generational afrobeat artiste to officially signed to an international label.
Also, in 2017, Wizkid signed a multi-album worldwide deal with RCA Records/Sony Music International, in addition, after a special audition Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records and Warner Music international with UMG publishing deal.
The result yielded massively to their careers, enhancing notable charts entry, international Collaborations, and most importantly distribution of project to a wider audience.
Between 2018/2019, it was very common to expand without much international moonwalk, simply because the jinx has been broken, and their eyes are now in the Nigeria market, Also the remarkable interrelation social media created was a serious enabling factor.
Rema gained global dominance within a 1-year career run, in a short space of time he featured on Barrack Obama’s summer playlist and linked with Canadian superstar Drake, in addition, Fireboy DML debuted on the top 10 US iTunes albums without an international label and Omah Lay had a Collaboration with an American singer, rapper, and songwriter, 6lack for as tiniest timeframe in his career run.
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Consequently, the impact of international label relies heavily upon the weight it pulls through on regional physical sales and streams, it records a significant chart entry such as US Billboard 200, Billboard world Album, Billboard Hot100, Digital Song Sales, and UK charts, it is, therefore, impossible to accumulate typical units sales without an international label or huge worldwide publishing deal.
Out of the chart aforementioned, only Billboard Hot100 are yet to be cracked by an afrobeat artiste while Billboard 200 albums chart has only been achieved by artistes with major international deals, prior to King Sunny Ade in 1983 under Island Records owned by Universal Music Group, till date, no Nigerian artiste without an international label has an entry on the chart.
In conclusion, there will be a level of afrobeat growth that international label will not be a ladder to global dominance in terms of notable charts, awards and impacts.
We’re almost there!