Anokute manages several clients including Curtis Waters, who recently went viral through his TikTok hit “Stunnin’.” While Waters was courted by many major labels, at Anokute’s counsel, he signed a shorter-term 60-40 profit-split deal with BMG. “I will never work for a major record label again,” Anokute says. “When you’re awake to this, you can’t be the perpetrator anymore.”
While Anokute points the barrel primarily at the labels dishing out deals — arguing that these deals perpetuate the very inequalities for black artists that the labels have said they’re looking to change — he acknowledges that labels alone can’t take all the blame for unfriendly artist deals. Labels are taking risks on any given signing and need to make offers that keep the company profitable. Ideally, he says, artists should have legal representation working in their best interest to point out red-flag clauses: While an artist should be wary of what they’re signing rather than looking solely at the immediate paycheck, young and starry-eyed artists who’ve never seen so much money may not understand that yet.