July 11, 2020

Bojo Mujo – A blueprint for Independent Artists

Bojo Mujo created a blueprint for Independent artists.

The late Bojo Mujo might not have been a household name in the music industry but he definitely achieved success on his own terms.

It might sound rather odd because more often than not, success in this industry usually means fame and fortune. But fame doesn’t necessarily translate to fortune.

However, Bujo Mujo was a rare breed, although he didn’t really become a big name artist but managed to achieve what many established artists can only dream of.

His sales were second to none and he managed to achieve all that without being signed to a major label.

During a time when House music compilations became popular in the South African music industry, Bojo Mujo and his team at House Therapy Music Production redefined the rule book.

Of course, the music industry at the time was still organic and the music was purchased in the traditional format in the form of Compact Discs and Cassettes.

But what I want you to look at is how Bojo Mujo laid a blueprint for Independent success. This blog post will take you through that – read and learn.

Who is Bojo Mujo?

Bojo Mujo was a South Africa-based self-taught disc jockey and music producer. Born Jack Lehlake in Modimolle, Limpopo, he moved to the Capital City, Pretoria (Soshanguve to be exact) in his pre-teens.

Bojo Mujo Music

This is my favourite part of the article and not because I was a fan of Bojo Mujo songs. But I’m simply fascinated with his work ethic and ability to be self-sufficient and consistent with each release.

During the mid-90s and early 2000s, the music industry in South Africa was dominated by your Kalawa Jazmees, 999 Music, House Afrika, TS Records – All boutique labels.

Mainstream success was pretty much guaranteed if you were signed to any of the mentioned labels. It makes logical sense right?

Because everyone wants to be associated with a winner.

But the guys from Pretoria had a different mindset and approach. In the early 2000s, underground producers, Dj’s and artists were making and promoting their own unique sound known as Bacardi.

However, Bojo Mujo, in particular, was one of the first underground artists from Pretoria to really demonstrate a sense of urgency.

In 2001, together with his elder brother, Sello Cry Lehlake and another influential DJ/producer from the Barcadi movement, DJ Mujava, founded a label called House Therapy Music Production.    

The House Therapy Sessions Series derived from the label name (House Therapy Music Production) took Bojo Mujo and the label to greater heights from a sales standpoint.

Here’s what happened:

  • House Therapy Sessions One (2002) – Sold 100 000 units
  • House Therapy Sessions Two (2003) – Sold 250 000 units
  • House Therapy Sessions Three (2005) – Sold 350 000 units
  • House Therapy Sessions Four (2007) – Unknown *
  • House Therapy Sessions Five (2008) – Unknown *

Source: http://artistwiki.com/bojo-mujo/biography

*I wish I can get a hold of Sello “Cry” Lehlake (co-founder of House Therapy) so he could provide me with those numbers but anyway….

By the time Bojo Mujo got to the House Therapy Sessions Five (his firth album), he was considered one of the all-time best selling artists in Southern Africa. And he was probably the biggest Independent selling artist at the time by numbers alone!

He stayed Independent for as long as possible but that also taught him the value of releasing product steadily and learning more about his market.

If you have plenty of music that is lying around in your hard drive, there is no use keeping it there. The internet has made it easier to self-distribute your own music without relying on the labels to do it for you.

I’m not saying that you will experience the same sales success as Bojo Mujo did, but building momentum and staying consistent is the way to go. Just keeping dropping music until you get tired of it and you never know which single or EP will finally take off.

Bojolution Studios

Bojo Mujo’s sales success allowed him to shift his attention for a while on developing his own roster and that’s when Bojolution was created. Bojolution was a label and recording studio which operated as a subsidiary of House Therapy Music Production.

Under this new Umbrella Company, Bojo Mujo was in charge of his own acts while House Therapy handled the marketing, promotions and distribution. Artists such as DJ MaEli, DJ Hunose and Biblos were signed to the label and mentored by Bojo until they were ready to release.

As you can see, Bujo Mujo and company created a similar strategy used by the major labels. But the only difference is that he created his own company within his own company. I don’t know if that makes sense?  

The Pressing & Distribution Deal (P&D Deal)

The pressing and distribution deal (P&D Deal) was probably the most lucrative deal you could get in the music industry. I say “was” because the music industry has changed so much since then because distributing music online is now commonplace.

During the heyday of the music industry getting this kind of a deal was not that simple because you had to prove that your music was already selling in large volumes. And in South Africa, only a handful of labels had a P&D deal (I’m not referring to label deals).

In nutshell, a pressing and distribution deal is when you pay a distributor to manufacture and distribute your CD’s ONLY for a fee of not more than 25%.

The remaining 75% goes into your pocket. But you are financially responsible for the marketing and promotions for all your albums. So you basically bare most of the risk like a real business producing products would.

Bojo Mujo and his House Therapy Music Production label went against the industry norm and decided to do it themselves and therefore staying 100% Independent by signing this type of a deal.

But the odds were in their favour, and when Bojo Mujo’s sales jumped through the roof, both artist and label profited handsomely!

I mentioned earlier that his first album sold 100k units, and therefore keeping about 75% of the gross profits – but I will leave you to do the maths.

Sure a traditional P&D deal might be out-dated and unrealistic at the current state of affairs but as an independent artist, you should at least aim to retain all the rights and master recordings of your music.

If you are signed to your own label, don’t partner with a middleman label or a third-party digital music distributor. Instead, approach a reputable music distributor so you can earn more margins from your digital sales.

Digital sales are not as lucrative unless you can scale to thousands or millions which is not impossible however it might take a while to do so but under the right guidance. So it only makes sense that you keep everything for now until you are ready to partner with the right company should you see the need to do so.

Conclusion

Throughout his entire music career, Bojo Mujo’s music was heavily criticised (by music-enthusiasts) for the lack of perceived “quality”. But you can’t take away the fact that Bojo Mujo was business-savvy. Only a few artists in South Africa (and abroad) managed to do what he did, and yet he couldn’t break into the mainstream.

However, there is a reason why the music industry is often referred to as the music business. And at the end of the day, Bojo came into the industry, did his job and managed to achieve the main objective – which is to sell music!

Rest in Peace Bojo Mujo.