How I Just Signed 3 Record Deals!

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This is a very exciting week for me!

Every musician has probably dreamed of that moment when they can say those magic five words …

I have just been signed!

The words that somehow seem to legitimize an artist’s creed, making them a professional in the business as opposed to being a hobbyist who’s unlikely to be taken seriously in the music world. Lets face it… the music industry sees a load of revenue and there’s money to be made.

So how did I get signed not once, but three times in such a difficult period for music? Well, the answer begins with my unique perspective on the music business…

I am now a consultant for musicians who wish to crack that elusive code that is keeping their careers from taking off. The industry has changed immensely since the hay day of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I get to enjoy watching independent artists start to see what’s really ‘under the hood’. That Eureka moment, as my job is to upgrade their thinking as to how to navigate the industry in 2018 and 2019, which is nothing like it was in 2008!

With fellow Zim Artists B-Kay and Kazz in Victoria Falls
With fellow Zim Artists B-Kay and Kazz in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

It is not so easy to get a record deal nowadays. We live in a time where a lot of signed artists are trying to get out of their contracts or where some of the music legends outwardly protest at the measly sum they make despite having literally hoards of digital streams. The problem is usually that those artists don’t own all of their music rights and publishing. Independent self-published artists are literally killing it on Spotify right now.

Not that the music industry isn’t full of people who work hard and genuinely want to help artists. The major labels are just so big and high up that it’s not easy for them to have a handle on what’s going on at ground level, or to be able to change direction very quickly hence often being late to the party.

So how did I get three deals at once? To be honest, I’m already looking at signing even more deals as things progress, and here’s how…

I’ve started my own record label. I really had no intention to do so as I’m so inundated with everything else from the songwriting all the way to the production and touring. However, after reluctantly trying out TV shows like The Voice and X-Factor and even getting a record deal offer out of New York which I declined for good reason, I’ve come to the conclusion that starting my own label is the smartest move by far.

Ryan Koriya Singing live at Cafe Mambo Ibiza
Ryan Koriya Singing live at Café Mambo Ibiza Spain 2018 – Photo by © Mambo Group

I’ve constantly been on tour since 2012, performing solo and connecting with people in over a dozen countries a year spanning four continents. The important question of whether I’m good enough to achieve global success was answered during this time.

The powerful and overwhelmingly positive feedback I get from people across the globe continues to fuel my quest.

My main priority has always been to have an amazing product. With a smaller marketing budget, force-feeding the market is not an option, so making solid and emotionally potent art will go much farther for less.

I’ve also been studying and taking classes along the way as I have always been interested in learning all aspects of the music business.

Some factors that play into my decision are as follows…

  • 98% of all acts that sign to major labels fail (2015 figures)
  • Signing to a record company means they own the master recordings not me
  • Their financial investment means I’m in debt to them from day one
  • My creative control is to be compromised at some point with a label involved
  • Zimbabwean Pop is not something a foreign label may be built for
  • I would have to be in a queue of artists in order to release music which can take years

My chosen method gives me all the control I desire and it is certainly possible in 2018. Especially for someone like me who has the skill sets, knowledge, experience and drive to go it alone.  After all, a label is also the marketing and branding machine for an artist. Now I’m using those acquired skills to consult for businesses outside of the music world too.

Besides, a label needs money in order to function.

But why three signings instead of one?

Well, that is one of the exciting aspects of my decision. I’ve always had a wide spectrum of sounds musically and now I get to allow each style to fully breathe…

My acoustic/folk songs get to have their own brand name and record deal.

My pop songs get to have their own brand name and record deal.

My TV/film soundtracks get to have their own brand name and record deal.

I will go on to make other types of music and essentially also release them under new pseudonyms in future.

Ryan Koriya on ZiFM Radio
Taking my mom with me for the ‘Drowning In Space’ promotion at ZiFM Radio Zimbabwe

The reason why I’m going this route is largely influenced by the fact that I can…

  • Release music across difference genres with no hassle and market it accordingly
  • Release a lot more music than ever before
  • The more music I release, the more royalties I make (especially being the full owner of the master, copyright and publishing)
  • Release music as often as I like
  • Have full creative control and freedom to try different musical ideas
  • Help other artists to carve out their unique path to success as I also have a team of label interns who I’m training up for the benefit of their own careers

Now the marketing process begins, as that is largely what record labels are for, to get their artists out into the world and make them hoards of new fans.

Challenge accepted!

You can immerse yourself in the new world of Runway Vertical Records by going to the official website where you can hear some previously unheard songs and even signup to receive an immediate sonic feelgood gift from us.

You can also find us on facebook, instagram and twitter

If you don’t tell your own story, someone else will tell it for you…

Ryan Koriya

Founder, CEO and Artist – Runway Vertical Records

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