How I Just Signed 3 Record Deals!

Runway Vertical Records Space Banner

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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The African Alchemist (Documentary)

I'MPOSSIBLE The African Alchemist


A New Web Documentary Series Called I’MPOSSIBLE

Subscribe to the YouTube Channel today and watch the previews and catch the first episode when it is released.

Season One

Just how much can one determined artist who lives out of a suitcase and has no home base do on their own?

Impossible is a mindset!

If you say you can, you’re right. If you say you can’t, you’re also right!

Despite the odds … #iAmPossible!

The first season focuses on my latest international tour that started in my native Zimbabwe, taking me and my guitar to 27 cities in 13 countries in the space of a year.

The episodes will delve deeper into the how, the where and the why!

The Drowning In Space tour (#DIStour) is in support of my latest digital single that was recorded in the magical Victoria Falls Zimbabwe.

This marks the 5th year in a row I have played in as many countries on each cycle, spanning 4 continents. All independent, without management, booking agents or any outside assistance in today’s over-cluttered music landscape where the industry only tends to get involved once you’ve landed on the moon in your own home-made spaceship.

Just how much can one determined artist do on their own? Quite a lot it seems …


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #1 – Yes, We Speak English In Africa + Ethnic Diversity

Judging by the numerous conversations I have with people from all over the world, I had to start off by addressing common misconceptions.

I spend a lot of time having to explain why I speak English (which is my first language) and advocating the idea of a Zimbabwean Ed Sheeran or Zimbabwean John Mayer (Global Top 40/Pop Artist) as opposed to the clichéd World Music,  Afro-Jazz etc


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #2 – You Can’t Build When You’re Always In Survival Mode

Despite my circumstances, one mindset I have adopted to help me achieve success is to not just be surviving… but somehow make sure I am surviving… forwards!

Life begins where fear ends

Never give up!!


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #3 – The Snow Hath Returned!

After family goodbyes at the airport, it was time to hit the skies, starting with South Africa then moving onto Europe and Scandinavia… It’s cold in Scandinavia! Brrr!!


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #4 – Zimbabwean Ed Sheeran

Like Ed Sheeran, I write pop songs, play acoustic guitar, perform solo whether it be in a pub, club or on a festival main stage, but instead of looping a beat or my voice, I play live drums with my feet (kick, snare, hi-hat) and sing my own vocal delay in real time, live.

Here’s what some more fans have to say about it…


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #5 – Ibiza – The Kygo Effect

I love Dance music. I have released a Beatport-charting House single that was remixed by a few hundred producers and I would love to pitch my vocals to and write a single with Kygo, and a few other Dance Artists I digg like Coldplay, Calvin Harris, DJ Snake, Alan Walker, RudimentalAvicii, Roger Sanchez and Bob Sinclar.

I went to Ibiza to see if it could become my European base while I somehow work towards my dream move to the US.


I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #6 – The Dream Team

The #DIStour culminated in the US where I was based in my dream location of Nashville TN for the Summer. A town that I’d love to live in and assemble a dream team to keep this stellar rocket flying way past the moon!

Allow me to demonstrate some of why I love the US and its music culture…


Please share this page/these videos and help give this project a great start as I continue to work towards inspiring others and continue sharing how I am single-handedly building the seemingly impossible with the help of a few powerful mindsets.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel to get each webisode as it is released:

Signup by email on and get insider access to my adventure of a lifetime!


The African Alchemist

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African Alchemy:

Samora Machel Avenue

Tonight, I packed up my belongings and moved out of a room in the Danish capital of Copenhagen’s Amager district in which I’d lived for the past three months tying up a three-month residency of gigs.

An interesting fact hit me as I filled my suitcase with the various belongings that had been allowed enough time to park outside of their small permanent wheelie home …

These last three months mark the longest period of time that I’ve lived in the same room since April 2012!… true story! (It is now November 2015!)

Since 2012, I’ve been no less than a rolling stone, going to The UK (multiple times), Belgium (twice), The Netherlands (at least five times), Germany (three times), Spain (once), The US (twice), Australia (twice), New Zealand (once), Zimbabwe (three times), South Africa (twice), Zambia (twice), Denmark (five times), Sweden (twice) and I’m off to play in Norway for the first time in two weeks 🙂

Most people ask two things, first… ‘why?’ and secondly… ‘how?!’

I finally read the book called The Alchemist a couple of weeks ago and now I see why people have been bringing it up and recommending it to me for years. It’s a story of a boy shepherd who spends years walking with his sheep and goes on an incredible international journey in search of his own personal legend that ends up making him very, very rich and wise. He even gets to marry the woman of his dreams, quite literally.

Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, over shadowed by financial difficulties, I’ve never been one to let my circumstances limit the size of my dreams (and I am very ambitious by nature). I’ve always been interested in getting bigger, better and going far in whatever I set my heart on.

Your attitude determines your altitude

African Alchemy:

How does one go from being grounded in Africa for two and a half years with an empty bank account to performing on four continents numerous times, playing solo and releasing new music by carrying around about fifty kilograms of luggage and recording gear, as shown in this video?:

The How (abridged):

In mid 2012, I had about 100 USD to my name and was living by the majestic Victoria Falls where I moved to from Harare knowing no one in that town apart from a face or two I’d seen at the festival I played there. Why did I move there?

It was the way that place made me ‘feel‘ whenever I was there for a few days at a time to perform. There’s a sense of calm and a sense of community in that transient little town by the mighty Zambezi River.

Victoria Falls by Tom Varley (

I had started focusing on following my heart/intuition more, no matter how crazy it seemed and did less worrying about what people are ‘supposed’ to do or what is ‘expected’ of me…

By November that year, I flew back to London armed with my new EP recorded in my backpacker bedroom studio. Still low on cash,  I had never been to any of the countries mentioned above apart from The UK, The US and the ones in Africa. Focusing on what I did have, I opted to use my newly acquired European passport to actually see places I would have found it hard or impossible to get to on a non-EU passport. I was and still am a full-time musician and I couldn’t afford to rent in London or anywhere really so it was time to improvise with the accommodation thing.

Bedroom Studio
My bedroom studio in Victoria Falls at Shoestrings Backpackers in 2012

My main focus was to keep performing and growing as an artist. Nothing great ever came without sacrifice and yes, of course I’d like to have my own home one day. I totally plan on owning a wonderful home that will be fully paid for by my art/skill. I may not have much money right now but I am very aware and grateful for the many other riches I already possess.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

One of my greatest tools is to focus on what I do have and to start from there. I can get very far, when at the start of each day I am aware of my travel-friendly passport, my network of friends/family, my musical/artistic talents, my sense of humour (audience members often tell me I should become a comedian lol), my various computer skills, my intrinsic optimistic nature, my great passion for singing, my huge desire to excel, my boundless energy and current good health along with the other gifts I already have at my disposal including the very day itself that I get to live through. Life is a precious gift!

When starting to build your dream from scratch: If you learn to use what you already have, you won’t need what you have not, the rest will manifest in time – Ryan Koriya

Dream Time

Which brings me to…

The ‘Why’:

To build a successful music career takes quite a lot of money and support from the relevant sectors of the entertainment industry. I was quite deficient in both of these at the time and so rather than give up or be tied down by an office job to pay for a small room in an expensive city, thus relegating my music to the lower ranks of my time and energy banks, (with such an evolving industry as is the modern music world that is full of new possibilities), I opted to start building my career from the ground up. Brick by brick on my own, fan by fan, show by show, song by song, lesson by lesson, new skill by new skill, hurdle by hurdle.

Most importantly, like an Olympic athlete who trains every single day, I am now a musician who is at the top of his game, ready to perform and entertain at the drop of a hat having just sang in public (gigs) for around 210 hours (actual singing time) in the last three months alone, and that’s not including any singing I did in practice.

Besides, isn’t travelling globally and performing music what the well-known successful artists do?!

So that means I am now already living the dream. Being an artist is a lifestyle and it is who I am everyday. I create and perform, I have people in the countries listed above and more, who have already heard my music and who have met me in person, or know someone who has met me.

The fandom has begun, it may be small now, but it is already pretty spread out and bubbling. I’m building a career to last unlike the prominent flash-in-the-pan mentality of today. One day, I envisage all of these RK supporters becoming one big community of fans when the crucial hype machine finally kicks in.

Cairns Couple
New fans in Cairns Australia with their bird upon shoulder in 2015 🙂

Thinking back, as a Zimbabwean kid who took four years and three months just to get out of the then sanctioned country overcoming what seemed like a dead end situation, dreaming about a successful international music career, it now feels like it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but more a matter of ‘when’!

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

– William Ernest Henley

Going for gold!

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How Said Name Was Birthed:

Sky Divers

Where to begin? … with the name of course.

African Astronauts:

I am an artist; a singer, a songwriter, a producer, a multi-instrumentalist, but when it comes down to it, I am a singer. I love singing and that’s what I want to do… Sing!

For me, singing is meditation, it is fun, it is healing, it is prayer, it is self-expression, it is my connection with other people, it is my release… Singing is my true passion!

When I meet people who ask what I do for a living, they often offer advice as people usually want to help. Advice that often demonstrates their lack of understanding of the business as it is today, which is not like it used to be, as with most industries, since the advent of the amazing internet. I often term this as BM (Before the Matrix existed) and AM (After the Matrix came to exist).

In an attempt to explain what it’s like being an artist today, barring the very, very lucky few, I say ‘humour me for a minute’…

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to be an astronaut, you’d have to be one of the  lucky few chosen and capable ones, who were trained up by NASA and got to fly to the moon! Like… Wowzers!

Today, if you want to go to the moon, you have to build your own rocket! I mean, figure out how oxygen tanks work, learn about rocket science, chemical, electrical and space engineering, figure out how to build a crapper that works in zero gravity and so much more!

You just wanted to fly the thing to space, after all you’re an astronaut, that’s your chosen career. Well, not until you build a rocket by yourself matey! The sky’s full of them! Plus, you don’t have the zillions of dollars in budget or the multitudes of genius-level people that are behind such NASA projects.

Then after years of not giving up, of trial and error, of sweat and tears, of heart ache and many amazing moments too of course, you finally land your little ol’ rocket on the moon and there you find the music industry guys who say “Ah, welcome to the moon, now that you’re here, let’s talk business!”


One of the main points is that since the internet leveled the playing field, pretty much anyone can dream of, and actively pursue a career in music/the arts when before, it was only the few super stars who got to enjoy such privileges as having their songs recorded, with fans in different countries having access to those recordings. Now comes the problem of a very oversubscribed industry (understatement of the year) so this journey is not for the faint-hearted, especially if you have no financial support and come from a continent like Africa which is about as far from the Pop music ecosystem as the moon itself!

So yes, people think the idea of a home-grown Zimbabwean aiming for the same job that John Mayer or Ed Sheeran has is absurd! Just as ludicrous an idea as Africa having a space program. I must be a nutcase! Well, welcome to the mad house! lol

I am a fully capable musician who lacks the benefits of having grown up in the main ‘incubators’ of today’s Pop world, whether it be London, New York or Los Angeles etc. Where people like Adele and Amy Winehouse get to attend Arts Schools that can connect you to the elusive gatekeepers of this industry once you graduate. I can’t even afford to pay rent most months never mind consider such formal avenues!

So my chosen path has been the longer road involving self-development which labels don’t really get involved with nowadays. As one industry guy in LA told me when I played him my demo,

We don’t really do development deals anymore. It’s like trying to sell a half-cooked meal, so we go for the full ready-to-go meals, the cream at the top, which is in abundance (thanks to the internet). You have great songs and a great voice. You need a producer to make your songs radio ready…

This was a huge setback seeing that good producers want to be paid (like musicians do too)… I’m usually living off the smell of an oil rag!  Where am I going to meet someone willing to donate time and resources for free or swaps?! This is where I decided, fine, if I have to learn to cook the whole shebang myself… challenge accepted! This way, I never have to go hungry ‘creatively’ until the right connections are made.

That was in late 2009 so it feels great to be standing in my metaphoric kitchen that is now in pretty good shape!

What I also see, is my unique African background filled with optimism and resourcefulness,  coupled with my unusual story as being more of a strength than a weakness, especially once this rocket really starts to gather speed.

Most of the World seems yet to catch on to that general notion of the talent being harboured south of the Equator. Some contemporary artists are often tempted to hide their African connection as a result, but onward I fly, my personal journey is well underway but my best efforts are yet to be seen. I’m only just getting started and I hope you enjoy the ride as much I do 🙂

Ready for launch!


Ryan Koriya | Ghostrider (Deep-Space Edit):

Ghostrider is my first (twin) single released independently in 2014 and in ‘rocket’ terms. I built the whole thing myself doing all of the following: Songwriting, Vocals, Music Production, Studio Engineering, Mixing, Performing of Instruments, Programming, Music Studio Editing and Music Video Editing! I managed to save up enough to pay someone to Master the track for me (Phew!)

This was recorded when I was touring in Copenhagen Denmark in February 2014.

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