Is It Still A Big Deal To Sign With An International Record Label?

An international record label showing an interest in an artiste is overwhelming. Some musicians are in the game to achieve that. We have seen many African artistes toasting to that milestone and to mention just a few, Tekno, Davido, Wizkid and Dbanj. But that doesn’t only stop in Nigeria because East African musicians have also been victims for luck of a better word.  Alikiba from Tanzania, Keko, Naava Grey and recently Vinka from Uganda have all put pen on paper to that deal. .

Most of the above artistes have at some point regretted why they made that decision because it backfired and to some, careers have ended. Let us concentrate more on the Ugandan artistes.


Before getting signed to Sony Music, Keko was the best thing to have happened to Ugandan music via Hip Hop in the female category. She was the best. She had given male rappers a run for their money and with songs such as ‘Alwoo’, ‘Mutima’, See ya’, ‘Make you dance’, ‘In the air’ and ‘How we do’, the Hip Hop fraternity was in safe hands.

When Sony Music however came into the picture all seem to have disappeared in thin air. She was introduced to electronic music, doing ‘Let me go’ which wasn’t a bad song but among the few she did with the label. For someone who knew when to release a song, how to do it, what the audience wanted, she was instead told what to do and when. Slowly, the Ugandan audience moved on from her while the rest of the world ignored her. It was the start of her downfall and as we speak, she is in Canada doing only God knows what.

Naava Grey

Speak of an artiste with good vocals; Naava Grey will be at the front. Listening to her will inspire you but unlike Keko, Naava is around but her career diminished. . She also sealed a deal with the same record label in 2013 in which the company was to carry out worldwide digital distribution of her music making it available commercially to masses of global audiences.


Sony Music in partnership with Rockstar4000 was to distribute Naava’s music to millions of digital stores including iTunes, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody, Mobile carriers like Samsung Apps, Nokia and Verizon Wireless, among others. Ugandans celebrated this deal and it believed she would take the industry to greater heights but only managed collaboration with Speedy dubbed ‘Soka Lami’. That was it. All the songs we are enjoying from her are dated seven or more years ago.


The former artiste manager who turned artiste is the current signee to Sony Music. She sealed the deal a few days ago with the help of Swangz Avenue, another label she is also signed to. We saw photos of her popping champagne with Sony representatives and that caused a lot of excitement but unlike the others above, Vinka is not as talented as they are but she has good guidance from Swangz.

According to what we heard, Sony is not entirely responsible for her. Swangz still has to play a part in the agreement that they signed and will play a part in her management at least locally. Perhaps this is some great news as she might still be relevant both home and abroad

So basing from the above experiences, its clear that signing with an international record label is not necessarily a direct route to international stardom and could actually lead to one’s downfall. However with Vinka having a slightly differently arrangement with Sony Music, it remains to be seen whether this could turn out as the master stroke.



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