International Haitian-American artist and producer Wyclef Jean; is using his business acumen to empower and invest in songwriters and producers in African countries and other emerging markets.
His music has always been influenced by his Haitian and African roots. In 2004, Jean traveled to Africa for the first time to perform with Femi Kuti, the son of music legend Fela Kuti.
He had then released what would be a worldwide hit song Diallo Diallo; on the back of an infamous killing of an unarmed black man in New York on February 4, 1999, by police.
Wyclef Jean On Funding
Wyclef Jean’s company, Carnival World Music Group, revealed that; it raised $25 million in capital funding; that will be allocated toward providing creative artists with music publishing and distribution resources. To promote their music and earn royalties.
According to Wyclef Jean, artists need this type of publishing and distribution support. Especially in light of the rise of Afrobeats and the growing expansion of digital streaming.
“The demand for music from Africa and other developing regions is growing; and these creatives deserve to be part of the international marketplace,” said The Fugees founder, according to Forbes. “There is a need for them to have open access to global publishing and distribution options that protect their rights and ensure that they are fairly paid. This initiative not only introduces and launches new talent but helps creatives around the world thrive in their careers.”
Publishing Is The Real Money
After decades in the music business, the hip-hop veteran says he’s learned that; producing, rapping, and singing will only earn so much cash. The real money is generated from publishing rights; which are often awarded to the songwriters, composers, and the publishing companies behind the music. For example, he and the Fugees only saw a fraction of the money earned from their iconic cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly.” Much of that money, he says, went to the song’s composer Charles Fox.
“When I produced ‘Killing Me Softly’ for The Fugees, we were making money; but I made somebody like $3 or $4 million that had nothing to do with us or Roberta Flack,” Jean told Fast Company. “The person that I made the money for was the composer. I understood then that I was on the wrong side of the business; I can’t just be on the side of the curtain cutting samples and doing a remix, I have to be part of the songwriting. And so for me, I also encourage kids that writing music is very important right now; not just for putting music out right now, but so that you can build your publishing catalog. In order for you to survive in this industry, we encourage kids to understand that their publishing is real estate.”
The U.S.-based music superstar and FaceList Award awardee has so far been behind charitable programs to support his native Haiti and other developing countries in Africa.