Top 10 Biggest Record Labels in Nigeria
Everybody in the Nigerian music industry knows about the various businesses that pay them, and most musicians work with record labels, distributors, or licensing firms with whom they have already signed specific contracts to distribute their music. And in other instances, independent musicians opening up shop with whatever they have and hope for the best possible outcome. Like any superstore, these record labels that musicians join to take their music to the next level each have their own distinctive ways of doing business and special benefits that the general public might not be aware of because their main focus is still on the finished product—the music and the musicians.
The rush has recently intensified in the Nigerian music industry as the objective of Western dominance becomes increasingly achievable thanks to world-bridging technologies and the all-powerful internet, highlighting the need for substantial record deal backings to support artists in reaching their ambitions. In this article, we examine the top ten biggest record labels that have established themselves as the top record labels in Nigeria thanks to the success of their artists.
What is a Record Label?
A record label is basically a trademark or brand of music recordings and videos. It is involved in the manufacture, distribution, and promotion of the recordings of its affiliated musicians. They usually make money from their distributors who sell their records through online and onsight means. The artists are then paid a cut that has been previously agreed on. Starting a record label is very easy but getting the recognition that will bring in money is the hardest part.
In addition, a record agreement establishes a record label, which is any business, big or little, that produces, distributes, and markets the recordings of associated musicians. The paper label in the middle of a phonograph record is where the term “record label” first appeared. A&R, which stands for artist and repertoire, new artist recruiting, and development, music publication, and copyright enforcement are just a few of the many tasks that record companies perform in the music business.
Top 10 Biggest Record Labels in Nigeria
Below are the top 10 biggest record labels in Nigeria:
10. Hypertek Digital
Hypertek Digital is a Nigerian record label owned by legendary musician and songwriter, Innocent Idibia, more commonly referred to as 2Baba, 2Face or TuFace Idibia. Hypertek Digital was launched in 2011 when 2Face exited Kennis Music, a record label he had been for over ten years prior to falling out with its owners and founders.
Hypertek Digital would proceed to sign legendary Highlife veteran musician, Victor Uwaifo, as a sign it was dedicated and committed to doing business. While being dedicated to the growth of 2Face’s music career, Hypertek Digital signed the likes of Dammy Krane and RockSteady as part of the label’s new rave.
9. PentHauze Music
PentHauze Music is a music record label in Nigeria owned by Nigerian rapper, producer and songwriter, Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike popularly known as Phyno. Phyno started PentHauze Music in 2008 after he left his former record label, Spurtnet. He first started with artists like Runtown, Shugaboi and flipside before signing in StormRex later.
8. Marlian Music
Naira Marley started Marlian Music in 2019. Since then, the company has signed a number of well-known artists who specialize in creating street hop beats that get the entire nation moving. Lyta, Fabia Blu, C Blvck, Tori Keeche, Zinoleesky, Mohbad, and Naira Marley, head boy in charge, are some of the Marlian musicians. Despite his bad boy character and infamous past as one of Nigeria’s most controversial celebrities, Naira Marley established a music company that has the statistics to show it is one of the most successful in the nation.
7. Flyboy Inc
Flyboy Inc. was founded shortly after Kizz Daniel exited his former label, G-Worldwide in 2017. While his split from his previous label was messy and involved legal tussle, Kizz Daniel ended up losing his former stage “Kiss Daniel” as G-Worldwide claimed it belonged to them. The following year, in 2018, Daniel signed Demmie Vee, and record producer, Philkeyz to his label, Flyboy Inc. Kizz Daniel has made huge impact and asserted his dominance as one of the top Nigerian musicians in the country.
6. Starboy Entertainment
Starboy Entertainment was established in 2013 when Wizkid left Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) upon the expiration of his contract. Although Wizkid has not been able to assert his dominance in the ranks of label owners through the signing of breakout stars. Mr. Eazi was reportedly signed by Wizkid to his label Starboy Entertainment. However, Mr. Eazi claimed in July 2017 on Star FM Ghana that he was not formally signed to Starboy. Additionally, he disclosed to Star FM Ghana that he only does business with the imprint.
Starboy Entertainment is currently managed by executive talent manager and Wizkid’s baby mama, Jada P. Other artists signed to the label include Legendury Beatz, R2Bees, Terri, and Efya.
5. Spaceship Entertainment
Although there aren’t many well-known recording artists signed to Spaceship Records, the label is home to Grammy Award winner Burna Boy, the one and only African Giant, Nissi, a seasoned music producer, and Grammy Award winner Telz. They are qualified to make the claim that they are one of the biggest record labels in the nation because of all of these factors, which are supported by their impressive portfolio of international collaboration deals, international deals with Atlantic Records and Bad Habit, as well as campaigns and tours supported by their flagship star, Burna Boy.
After leaving Aristokrat Records on February 18, 2015, Burna Boy founded Spaceship Records, which is a core entity of Spaceship Collective, the holding company that holds both the record label and the publishing company, Spaceship Publishing. True to its name as a family business, the holding company is owned by none other than Bose Ogulu, a dynamic mother manager, with Burna Boy serving as the executive director and his sister Ronami as the director of creative and branding.
Although the record label company does appear to be a tight-knit group, it is crucial to remember that it once hosted the new school sensation Buju and has shown a keen feel for collaborating with the best artists. In Burna Boy’s case, this continues to be done in a way that sparkles.
4. Davido Music Worldwide (DMW)
Every record company has a strong suit and a distinctive personality, but DMW stands out as the most well-known due to its ability to capitalize on the notoriety, status, and generosity of its owner, Davido. Following Davido’s departure from HKN Music in 2016, DMW was established. It features a number of well-known artists from the music business, including DJ ECool, Peruzzi, Dremo, and Yonda. Their newest member, Liya, is also helping to advance the discourse around female inclusion.
The relationship the artists undoubtedly have, which has translated into numerous, well-received collaborations in the past, has allowed DMW’s fame and renown to soar.
With the success of their founding member and leading artist, Davido, who continues to score mega-deals and make mega-moves, DMW has also been able to make their imprint. While Davido, Wizkid and Burna Boy have all been compared over the years, Davido has gained a reasonable upper hand through his label and close relationship with his label’s signee’s.
3. Chocolate City
Without a doubt one of the oldest active labels in existence, Chocolate City was established in 2005. With tracks from prior signees like Brymo, Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, Jeremiah Gyang, Koker, Victoria Kimani, and others over this time, the label has given us precious memories. Rappers including M.I. Abaga, Jesse Jagz, and Ice Prince were part of the label’s second wave of the Nigerian hip-hop movement, which was made possible by the label. By promoting and signing artists like Dice Ailes and CKay, whose song Love Nwantiti from his EP, CKay the First, was initially issued through them and is now jointly distributed with Warner Music, it also contributed to the present experimenting of Afropop.
However, Chocolate City should not be confused with the company since it is a division of Chocolate City Group, one of Africa’s largest entertainment empires. Chocolate City Distribution, Chocolate City Events, CCX, and Chocolate City Media are additional divisions of the organization. Warner Music Group and the Nigerian label Chocolate City established a partnership on March 28. With the help of this agreement, Chocolate City artists can join WMG’s roster and benefit from the distributor’s support and artist services.
Afropop, the latest incarnation of Afrobeats, hip-hop, and occasionally RnB are frequently mentioned when discussing music genres in this country, but the street-hop movement—a true subgenre and culture since Olamide entered the music industry with Eni Duro in 2010—is seldom mentioned. With his record label, YBNL, which was established in 2015, the seasoned indigenous rapper, who has since worn several hats, continues to hold the door open for the genre and potential artists.
Since that time, YBNL has contributed significantly to highlighting artists in the street-hop scene and outside. The extensive history of YBNL includes talents like Viktoh, Temmie Ovwasa, Davolee, Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, and others as former signees. This list of outstanding and interesting performers is endless. With the help of a distribution agreement with Empire, a record label and distribution business, in 2020, the record label that houses DJ Enimoney was able to take current stars like Fireboy DML, Asake, and Olamide himself to brand-new heights. If anything, YBNL has produced more successful breakout stars who went on to thrive after exiting the label than any other label in Nigeria.
Mavin Records has an undeniable position as one of the biggest, most adored, and most respected labels in the nation thanks to their ability to identify some of the most promising artists and turn them into superstars. With the backing of international investors in Kupanda Holdings, a joint venture owned by Kupanda Investment and TPG Growth that has backed multinational corporations like Uber, the label’s influence is enhanced by the fact that it is owned by Don Jazzy, who has more than a decade of experience working with Nigerian artists.
Mavin Records was founded by Don Jazzy on May 8, 2012, after the collapse of Mo’ Hits Records where he was co-founder with D’banj.
Mavin Record has developed into a full-fledged company, along with a holding company called Mavin Holdings and an imprint label called D Prince’s Jonzing World, which features the artists Rema and Ruger.
With artists like Boy Spyce, Korede Bello, Rema, Ayra Starr, LadiPoe, Johnny Drille, Crayon, Magixx, and LadiPoe on their roster, the label actually seems poised for continued brilliance and supremacy well into the next ten years.