Music mogul eLDee has revealed the sole reason why Alaba International Market has fallen from grace as Nigeria’s major music distribution hub.
eLDee who has put in decades in the music industry as an artiste, label owner and now tech innovator, wrote a blog post on his company website about how Alaba has fallen from grace and failed in its role as the biggest music distribution hub of Nigeria.
eLDee, who is popular for his revolutionary music when he owned Trybesmen Records, and his innovation with setting up a national distribution network for music, began his career in 1998. At that time, Nigeria lacked record labels with the infrastructure and skill set to fully generate value for musicians via record sales.
Eldee's “Return Of The King” album artwork(Trybe Records)
He launched Trybesmen, an independent record label at a time when the industry was just beginning to show signs of commercial profitability before looking for a distribution system.
He approached Alaba market, which was primarily the country’s electronics market hub and possessed the best distribution channel for their products across the country. He introduced them to the idea of making profit from expanding to selling physical records, by mass producing and branding via their already established distribution records.
A group of shops at Alaba International International(TechCrunch)
Before eLDee’s idea, Alaba was a den of pirates, who flogged off mixes from Deejays looking to benefit from the lack of a legal structure. But the appearance of eLDee gave them a new direction, and opened their eyes to a world of possibilities and benefits.
“To get them on board, we would have to earn their trust, and convince them on how they could make even more money if we marketed legally licensed products for them.” eLDee explained.
“The vision was clear so I made a move with my close friend and record label manager at the time (Babajide Familusi aka FAB) and approached them with our proposal.”
eLdee, Olu Maintain and Babajide Familusi aka FAB.(Playdata)
eLDee and his associates approached them with the plan, but could only find one willing person in 2001. His name was Tochukwu aka Tjoe. Tjoe understood, signed a deal with them, and began to rake in the millions for himself and the artistes. They set a price model for CDs and the money flowed. Tybesmen’s “L.A.G Style” was the first record to be officially distributed legally via Alaba.
Soon other marketers joined the new wave, and struck deals with artistes and movie makers. Alaba became the largest official distributors of music and movies in Nigeria, and by extension, West Africa.
But today, things had gone South.
“Unlike Tjoe in 2001, many of the merchants got greedy and it was only a matter of time before most if not all the distributors began ripping off their content creators.” eLDee said. “They went legal for a few months, but soon went back to being pirates.”
“They figured out ways to produce more than they declared to the creators, sometimes up to millions of extra copies of music and movie works.”
Tybesmen’s “L.A.G Style” was the first record to be officially distributed legally via Alaba.(Playdata)
The Nigerian copyrights commission could nothing to stem the tide of dishonesty and bad business. Turns out the commission lacks proper funding for enforcement from the Federal Government. In the end, everyone got burned.
Alaba imploded due to greed and shortsightedness, which bred dishonesty and cheating of content owners.
“Content owners lost confidence and millions, greedy merchants and marketers got cocky and cheated rights owners with impunity, they even declared battle against copyright agencies and anyone who attempted to disrupt their operations.
“There were multiple raids on many Alaba stores by content owners and the police and then portable mp3 technology began changing consumer habits. Numerous Alaba marketers who were once capable of paying content creators distribution advances of up to N50,000,000 can barely pay their store rents at the market today.
“The Alaba market is still alive today but they have been reduced mostly to pirates, selling “latest” mixes once again.”
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