The General Manager of Sony Music West Africa, Michael Ugwu, also known as ‘Magic Mike’, recently penned a farewell message on his social media. For time well spent, he highlighted his achievements and leaves a stern warning for labels operating in Nigeria to take note of. He wrote;
“Today is my last official day as the pioneer General Manager of Sony Music Entertainment West Africa. I’m super proud to have anchored the first major label in Nigeria validating the massive effort of the independent sector in Nigeria’s meteoric music business growth. Despite all the current challenges we are facing as a nation-state it suffices to say that the Nigerian Music industry is one sector that makes us all immensely proud.
During my time as GM, we saw a number of notable deals materialize notably the Sony signings of bothWizkid and Davido. Both of whom are still signed to Sony Music and still killing it. Despite some public challenges with the deal Ycee’s “Juice” became the most-streamed track in Sony Music Africa’s history. We have sorted our differences and I wish Ycee the best in his promising career! Though it took 3 years to negotiate technical & commercials we become the 1st major label to directly license our entire catalogue to the biggest telecommunications company in SSA (MTN) via the Huawei developed Music Plus service. From an international perspective, one of my personal favorite highlights was bringing Jidenna, Sylvia Rhone and both their teams to Lagos and Enugu, Nigeria (Igbo Kwenu!). More recent highlights would be watching Lil Nas X break the record for the longest run ever at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100(17 weeks and counting) as well as the release of Beyonce’s “The Gift” album under Columbia Records. The full impact of that album on our scene is yet to be really felt but I believe it was a brilliant introduction for some of Africa’s biggest stars to the US market, big congrats to all involved. Collaboration, after all, has been and will continue to be critical on the creative as well as the commercial side of the business.
From a local to a global business perspective we must always recognize that there is a symbiotic relationship between creators, distributors, indies, majors and DPSs and everyone under over and in between today’s music business. I’m fortunate to have met and delivered for some superstar artists but I’m even more proud to have met, worked with and learned from some of the best executives in the global music business. I’ve now participated in almost every segment of the modern music industry value chain and continue to learn a lot about these relationships and structures.
In this day and age of opportunity, awareness and artist direct opportunities unless the major labels deploy considerable resources to market like Nigeria they will not be a dramatic value add to the ecosystem in any way shape or form.
Technology has given creators a massive advantage to grow their careers independently and as the industry continues to grow the majors will hopefully find their rightful place in the local ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa because in truth we all need one another to continue to create local and global value as well as grow this into a truly “sustainable” sector.
Best of luck to the team as they continue to grow the business.
I’m blessed… Now Freeme.
– Micheal “Magic” Ugwu”