On May 2 2019, it was announced that one of Africa’s biggest female acts, Tiwatope Savage was stepping up to becoming an international act by signing a global recording deal with America’s Universal Music Group.
This deal makes Tiwa the first Nigerian female musician to be signed to the international label and has also sparked arguments concerning who the biggest female artist is in Nigeria. Now, the TiwaFans have acquired the best defense for the argument of the superior.
From her early days as a backup singer for international artistes like George Michael, Mary J. Blige, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, to her recent move to UMG, one can say Tiwa has rightly paid her dues and her cards have as well been wisely played.
Tiwa, who has over 25 collaborations, started with the Mavin Crew in 2012, and released her first album ‘Once Upon a Time’ in 2013. She has through her music shown her determination to have a place in the global market and the public witnessed this in 2016 when she signed a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation thereby making her the first Nigerian artist to be signed to the label. Another feat which earned her the title, ‘woman of the firsts’ after being the first lady of the Mavin crew.
However, the move to UMG has been accepted with mixed feelings from fans. While some might have treated this score as a blessing, some have perceived it as a means for her to go into relegation. There is the fear of Tiwa’s music sound and style changing. This is because, when an artiste signs to a foreign label, it is believed they change to the foreign style. This however, may not be the situation in Tiwa’s case; with her background in the U.S music world, the same product is expected.
This deal also means she is coming into the full circle as she is indeed returning where it all started for her.
Few days after Tiwa’s UMG deal, a fellow Nigerian Afro musician, Burna Boy talked about music artists and contracts with international record labels. He stated that he feels “so sorry” for Nigerian artists “jumping into these international deals.”
His comments sparked reactions from artistes; Dammy Krane who seconded Burna’s comments and DMW’s Peruzzi, who was totally against Burna’s notion.
Surprisingly, Tiwa agrees with Burna stating that he is ‘absolutely’ right. According to Bellanaija, she made it known it was because his notion was taken out of context.
“I think it’s important for artists to be 100% sure and aware of what they’re getting themselves into, especially when it comes to contracts. Burna is 1000% correct. People took it out of context, maybe. It’s a great advice to any artist: make sure you see your lawyers and do your personal research,” she says.
Tiwa agrees that you won’t always get 100% what you want from any deal, so, there may be advantages and disadvantages of international deals.
It should be recalled that the top three artistes in Nigeria- Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy- all have deals with major international labels in the global music business.
Tiwa’s exit from Mavin Records also sparked speculations suggesting the label might be in crisis, since it lost a major money maker. This might not be the issue. On a brighter note, this could be an opportunity for the label to sell itself as a brand that harbors talents with global prospect.
Tiwa’s journey to be the best and one of the biggest acts to emerge from Africa, has been an inspiring one and with these deals coming in from around the world into the Nigerian market, it can then be said that the Nigerian music on a larger scale, has a chance to influence the global music market.