Davido and the Sony Deal

Davido (Feb 18, 2016).jpg

Illustration by Seun Ajibola

Davido signed a new global record deal with Sony Music for a reported $1 million announced through his twitter feed as well as, Sony Music. Afrobeat has grown in popularity over the last decade and Davido is a strong choice for Sony given his place in the hierarchy of Afrobeat. A hypothetical analysis of the pros and cons of the contract can help us understand the impact this deal will have on the future of Afrobeat.

Prior to Davido, 2face Idibia had the best chance of crossing over with his “African Queen” track that resonated deeply with many music fans. In the short past, Ice Prince was on Power 105 in New York discussing a potential contract with Roc Nation. D’banj also signed with Kanye West’s Good Music imprint and has transitioned to an executive position. Davido with the new deal has the opportunity to use the global deal to not only build his brand as a musician but also use his new platform to bring on new artists potentially through his own label.

Distribution channels continue to expand at record pace and the opportunities are better for artists on major record labels. Sony can negotiate better distribution deals for their artists due to the negotiation leverage. The problem though is that Afrobeat is not a genre that many of these companies have worked with in the past, thus there should be a reliance on the artist’s team to understand the African market. Sony could focus strictly on the African market or it can present the music on the American listeners. Choosing the former is the easier option, however, Davido is one of the few artists that has the best chance at fully crossing over to America given his ability to make tracks that blend well with the current sound.

It is highly unlikely that Davido will continue to have unilateral right to record and promote any song that will be on an official release through Sony. Record labels tend to interfere with the artists they are in contract with and this restriction has forced many artists to go independent. I am apprehensive of interference from Sony on Davido’s records and there is a possibility for forced collaboration with American artists. Davido should collaborate but fans are not stupid and can tell when a collaboration feels unnatural.

On his twitter, he had a few words for his “haters” and I understand the frustration of having to address negative opinions on a day you should be celebrated. But that is what you get for being the first artist to sign such a significant record deal. You get the glory and the negativity. Davido and his team will have to find a way to keep him from reacting on social media to avoid a similar perception that was followed Wale throughout his career. 

The deal is positive and further enhances the recognition of Afrobeat artist. The transition from a domestic market to the international market is not without problems but if Davido is able to succeed in his deal, it will provide more opportunities for artists that follow his path in Afrobeat music.

Ideas, Afrobeats, MusicFemi Adeyinka