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Whither old recording labels?

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IN THE days past, music recording studios throughout the country, both foreign and indigenous were always housed in large befitting buildings with all the tramping associated with good music production that is well blended which made productions in those days look natural and interesting.

  In those days, recording studios were very few, and as a result, artists have to do thorough work while compiling their music for, no recording studio would want to produce and market their products for ‘failure’ is an orphan without anything to hold onto.

  Those old days, musicians have to book for sessions in advance before they would have access into the recording studio where trained studio engineers and other auxiliary workers would be in control and a musical production might take up to one month before it would be completed for they go for “near perfection”, hence any slightest mistake, the work will be cancelled and started afresh. That was why in those days, recording and marketing studios were delight to listen to.

  While growing up, I saw my late father using his old gramophone turn-table player made by Phillips with the player plate that had a dog as logo “his masters’ voice” inscribed inside the player plate and the analogue recording company was named “DECCA” studios, that saw to the production and marketing of various Nigerian artists that made waves in the music industry like late Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, late Chief Sunday Akanite (Aka, Oliver De Coque), etc.

  Other analogue studios that held sway in the recent past before the advent of digitalisation include EMI that produced musicians like the Fuji maestro – Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, Sonny Records, that produced Sir Shina Peters of “Ace and Shinamina” fame,

Tabansi studios, Roggers All-Stars Studio, that produced people like late Nico Mbarga, Nelly Uchendu, Bright Chimezie – the Ziggima Crooner, Melody Studio, Sammy Sparkle All-Stars Studio, Graceland Musical Studio, to mention but a few.

  Today,  these analogue studios with trained professionals have all gone extinct while few of them still surviving do not have enough patronage from today’s millennium musicians who have gone haywire at filling the music market with all sorts of garbage in the name of music in an effort to make quick money.

  The question now is, today’s studio musical productions and those of yesteryears, which are better? To get to the bottom of answers to this question, I and my anointed seven parrots went on the prowl and got the following feedback:

  To Chief Malife, a German-trained studio engineer, who hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, the music industry has lost its flavor with the advent of “make-shift” studios occasioned by the introduction of computers, laptops and other ICT equipment into the music industry,

for according to him, this is the reason why the music industry is oversaturated with all kinds of nuisances in the name of music all in the quest for the new age musicians to grab fast money. He regretted that the music industry, which should apart from playing an entertainment role in the society and also mould morals of the citizenry, is now a mockery because of the use of ICT equipment without caution by the young artists.

  Chief Malife, however, agreed that the trend can hardly be changed now, more so when people in their group are retired and even the analogue studios have phased out except very few that would in the very near future, close shop for lack of patronage.

  For Chief Sammy Nwobu of Sammy Sparkle All-Stars Recording Studio and Graceland Records, there is nothing wrong changing from analogue to digital studio. He was of the opinion that today, the player plates used in the early 20ts-40ths are no longer in use today and people have adjusted to what is in vogue.

His only regret is the fact that amateurs have hijacked the music studio production industry in their frenzy to emasse fast wealth.

He insisted that why most analogue studios have closed shops was the fact that the operators did not want to change with the tide, adding that why young and even old generation musicians shun analogue studios is the cost, time wasted and fatigue the artists suffer during recording, unlike digitalised studio where things are cheaper and easier.

  Chief Emmanuel C. Okonkwo, the MD and CEO of Roggers All-Stars Recording Studio, in his observation in a telephone interview, stated that analogue studio productions are better than what is being shunned out these days.

He, however, said that there was nothing any person could do because the world is dynamic and changes must occur, adding that when such happens, it behoves on the people to try and adapt to the new tide of events.

He also stated that most analogue recording studios closed shops for the fact that most of the operators were dead, some aged and could not cope with day-to-day running of the outfit while their kids who would have taken over is in vogue with digitalisation.

Finally, he posited that another militating fact is that the parts to maintain the analogue machines are hardly available, hence the few ones that want to continue are digitalising’. “But for me, I have paid my dues and I am resting”, he concluded.

  While most of those who operated analogue recording studios bemoan their travails and tribulations caused by digitalisation, young and even most musicians and artists say they enjoy the air and euphoria contained therein in digitalization. Even digital recording studio owners are not left out.

  In his opinion, a reggae crooner, Sam Theo posited that digitalisation was the best thing to have happened in the music industry as artists do not need to undergo vigorous sufferings now before releasing an album (LP). “It is quite easier not to record and produce an album in a record time. It is also very cheap, sharp and less rigorous”, he asserted.

  Commenting, Angus Nwangwu, a musician turned producer, who owns a digital studio said that digitalisation has come to stay and there is no going back. In his words, “digitalisation is wonderful. It is less cumbersome, cheaper than analogue productions and most importantly, it makes our musical productions and other products compete favourably with productions from the developed world.

  All other commentators whose opinions were sampled emphasised that nothing can be compared to digitalisation as the world is metamorphosing; so should the music industry also be.

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