This week Haiti-based, singer-songwriter Mikaben and Warner Music France entered into a distribution deal under the music giant’s Caribbean Pop division. According to a press release that Mikaben’s camp released to the media, the pact was negotiated by the singer’s attorney Georges Andy Rene.
Turns out that the singer has a production company called Mikaben Productions, and as the flagship artist for that label/production house, Mikaben’s long-anticipated album will be released under that deal. I have the following thoughts on the matter:
Warner Music France is a proven label. Duh! Not to mention it has a track record of nurturing artists.
Warner Music is one of the most still-powerful record labels in the world, so this development is no small feat. The French branch of the music label giant is equally formidable. It’s home to French-language artists from all over the planet like Zaho (Algerian-French), Feloche (Canary Islands), Les Nubians (Senegalese-French), Karim Ouellet (Canadian-African). Warner Music France has time and time proven that it can really push its African Diaspora artists not only in their home territory, but on a global basis.
Distribution deal as opposed to a record deal
In Mikaben’s case, it makes more sense to get a distribution deal than a record deal. According to my research, he’s been self-produced, self-marketed, self-everything since the dawn of his career. But how long can an entity be a one-stop shop before it gets exhausted. It’s the marketing push that he needed more than anything else, and that’s the primary benefit of this deal.
Explicit details of the deal were not revealed of course, and are understandably confidential. But with most deals orchestrated by Warner Music Group and its affiliates, including, ahem, Warner Music France, there are considerable gains on both sides. This distribution deal allows Mikaben to continue to have full control over his musical style and album content, while getting wider distribution for his music from a billion dollar-revenue-making, 75+ year-old-record label.
On the other hand, Warner Music France will get access to Mikaben’s future music, and since the artist is also a producer, he can serve as a sort of musical scout for the label for talents out of Haiti. What’s more, whether some acknowledge it or not, Haiti is a hub for rare sounds and a fertile ground for fresh musical movements. Mikaben can become Warner Music France’s official eyes and ears when it comes to musical trends, so to speak. He can even be a catalyst to sign other artists, or even start a subdivision…Hey, the possibilities!
Opportunities Galore for Mikaben
The fact that Mikaben is now more or less a Warner Music France artist through this distribution deal will also mean opportunities for collaborations with other artists affiliated with the label, either as singer or as producer. As stated in the press release for the deal, the contract is for Mikaben and his stable of artists. But, this doesn’t mean Mikaben can’t leverage his new association with Warner Music France to write for artists from other countries who are on the Warner Music Group/Warner Music France label.
Novel Revenue Opportunities
Let’s not forget as well, that Warner Music Group is home to…movie soundtracks. Movie soundtracks have always meant additional revenue stream for songwriters and producers. In the past couple of years, Warner Music Group has been the label behind soundtracks for hit series for sister companies like HBO, (“True Blood”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Girls”, etc), and for films like Twilight, The Fault in Our Stars, For Colored Girls, Furious 7, The Dark Night, among other films.
Soundtrack music supervisors are always looking for new sounds. The songs don’t even have to be in English, and the more foreign-sounding the sound, the better. Have you ever sat at a movie theater and a foreign language song came in the background…rather exotic, no? Mikaben could produce some tracks in Creole, English, and French—and whatever other languages that he might know—for a Warner Music Group/France soundtrack, or even produce an entire soundtrack. The residuals from most movie soundtracks can be minimal, but can also yield big pay days too—depending on the deal.
Warner Music is also the parent company for Chappel Music, a music licensing branch that licenses beats and actual songs to the gaming industry. The gaming industry! In the next year or so, the gaming industry is set to yield $87 billion in revenue. While Warner Music isn’t affiliated with every gaming company on the market, it does significant enough business in that industry to give Mikaben yet another iron in the fire if he chooses to license his songs and compositions for gaming. And all an artist needs is one gaming credit to get additional credits and contacts in the gaming sector. And if he so wishes (and if the clauses and terms of the Warner Music France allows), Mikaben can also work with non-Warner Music gaming companies.
And it won’t stop there. Licensing is huge. There’s television commercials for huge brands. Oh, and of course, there are apps, that other billion-dollar industry and even educational games for children’s mobile devices. As far as I can tell, Warner Music Group isn’t too big in the app or educational game industries, so perhaps these are two sectors Mikaben can explore on his own. And with the marketing push, he’ll attain from this deal, it shouldn’t be a challenge to get a meeting with Leapfrog, Isabella, and Fable and kiddie app developers.
The immediate musical beneficiary of this deal is Mikaben’s song “Ti Pa’m Nan”, a track in which he duets with fellow Haiti-based singer J.Perry. The song was initially released more than two years ago, but is getting new life through this deal. It remains to be seen whether Mikaben will hand over other past works to Warner Music France. But then again, the deal is for future albums. But wouldn’t repackaging past work—say Mikaben’s past two albums—and giving them a wider release be conducive to the quest for international domination?
One aspect currently lacking in the Mikaben brand is consistent release of music videos to accompany his released songs. Will Warner Music France foot the bill for some music videos too? Was that part of the deal? But yeah, this is a distribution deal, so hopefully Mikaben got a hefty advance to boost himself in that area. When you study music history from the past 5-7 years, you realize that despite all the tech, structural and marketing changes that the international music scene has gone through…the music video is the one thing that hasn’t totally lost its appeal and its marketing ability. Heck, it revitalizes old songs and expands the longevity of a track.
It will be interesting to see how this deal plays out for this artist. For the time being, this is a huge booster for Mikaben, and a huge gain for Warner Music France. May the singer use this deal to its fullest potential and use it as a springboard to build and expand a musical empire.
This is your girl Kreyolicious signing off…Until next time…