Iyanya has shocked everyone. Let’s admit it. You never thought he will sign for anyone else. When he announced his split from Made Men Music Group, a company he owned with Ubi Franklin, you thought he was going to go the ‘normal’ route.
The normal route in Nigeria for these things becomes an artiste who breaks out from a record label going off on his own to set up a mushroom record label. Everyone who has ever left a record label has gone on to set up their personal business, brand it with a new name and proceeded to try and start all over with limited funding. We have an abundance of examples in this light.
But for Iyanya it is different. He chose to go under the Mavin banner, why?
Ask yourself this question: Can Iyanya run a record label? Does he understand what it means to create and manage a behemoth of a company and steer it to profit?
Iyanya never did a day of management in his life, with people always available to handle his business. In 2011, under the guidance of Ubi Franklin, he struck out on his own.
Under Made Men Music Group, Ubi managed the firm and the talent. Iyanya’s job was very limited to creating the content, and handing over to Ubi, and working on the performance. It was Ubi who did the bookings, handled the business end of everything, digital sales, expansion and more. Iyanya took care of powering in the money via entertainment. That combination worked wonders for a period in the Nigerian music space.
But it was bad for Iyanya. An artiste of his calibre, Iyanya relied too heavily on Ubi Franklin for just about everything. Relationships were forged by Ubi, all aspects of the business was handled by him too. There was no deal that Ubi Franklin didn’t take the front row, including the very minute details of album design, art direction and more. “Perform Iyanya, perform,” and he did, while Ubi made the moves off the mic. That combination was deadly, with division of labour creating a sexy brand that was sold for money.
But like all good things end, the relationship turned sour, and Iyanya was out on a limb. He honestly did try to recreate the magic without Ubi Franklin. For him, it was like starting from the scratch again, and learning the ropes. He might have had an idea of how the system worked, but the finer points of industry networking has eluded him thus far. Truth be told, he literally would have difficulty running his business.
He was on the lookout for new talent, and a team of industry-savvy experts. For the release of his single, ‘Ayaya’, he handled everything. He made the calls himself, and supervised it. Oh, how strange that must have felt for someone who is fast approaching the dreaded ‘veteran’ status. It’s a bit like attending adult education classes in your old age, where you regret your past decisions that have left you illiterate, but forge ahead with courage, knowing that only you possess the power to alter the future.
But not all is gloomy for Iyanya. He is a star, with a dope album, and two flopped ones. Many hit singles have passed from his lips into the Nigerian music space, and that will not be forgotten in a hurry. On that score, he has leveraged on his status to make things easier for himself. The name Iyanya can knock on doors and have them opened. But he has to learn how to knock on those doors, and that is like learning to breathe in the music industry. That’s a basic of survival in these cold streets.
For Iyanya, it is still good business. People might wonder why he is returning to a new setup that still makes him unable to make his independent decisions. But you have to look at the facts. Iyanya at MMMG was just a figurehead with a controlling stake. Ubi Franklin ran the business autonomously and with an iron fist. Iyanya exiting just gives him a breath of fresh air. Instead of chasing independent success and encountering resistance against his plans at every turn, he is aligning with a stronger force. Mavin Records have the funding, the structure, the hands and the expertise to push him through his doldrums and into the light.
For so long he has been in the dark. Waiting for something and someone to come give him second life. Mavin Records is that second life. Mavin Records, on paper, is the solution to his problems, the cure to his malaise, and the drug to his disease.
On paper, this is good business for everyone. Admittedly, it is a shock pairing of two forces, but one that has the potential to birth a greater movement and momentum. The likes of which the industry rarely affords. That is why he is shunning the road well-traveled, and joining a bigger structure. It takes the organizational stress off him, and gives him the freedom to create amazing work and flourish side by side, with Don Jazzy of course.