Home to some of the finest music exports on the African continent, the Nigerian music industry has become a money-spinner. Indeed auditing firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, reports that $56 million was generated from music sales alone in Nigeria in 2015.
The firm also predicts that the industry’s revenue could shoot up to $88 million by 2018.
Little wonder the influx of young people into the industry, struggling for attention, cash, and fame. Sadly, many Nigerian artistes of yesteryears did not relish the economic boom and fame that the younger artistes currently enjoy.
But the reality remains that music is no longer viewed from the standpoint of the art in itself.
It is serious business and to thrive in any industry, certain principles and false notions must be either upheld or erased.
Because much more than talent is required to become the next big thing like Wizkid, Pyhno, Kiss Daniel, Mr. Eazi, Davido and Yemi Alade, we have highlighted five things upcoming artistes take for granted in Nigeria.
As an upcoming artiste, you cannot feed your prospective fans half-baked music, poor lyrics and lacklustre music video. Any serious artiste is expected to know the difference between a music producer and a sound engineer. Because lot of music producers moonlight as sound engineers today, the standard of music output is constantly being compromised. Blogs and other media houses take quality pretty seriously and you do not want to appear stupid or unserious when your music materials are frowned upon, ignored or out rightly rejected.
And for those who can afford to shoot a quality music video, proper research needs to be carried out before the video is shot in the first place. As an upcoming artiste, you must realise that visuals matter and the quality of your music must also be reflected in your visuals if you must leave a lasting impression in the minds of your fans. Quality should not be confused with expenditure. As such, an artiste can advise or suggest the artistic direction he or she has in mind to the music-video director. The cover art, as we know, also endears fans to the music before it is listened or viewed. And bloggers also give more preference to quality covers arts too.
2. Social Media
This is the 21st century, do I have to reiterate Marshal McLuhan’s the world has become a global village again? Social media is a hub that connects people from all works of life and has also proven to be a veritable tool for music promotion. Unfortunately, some upcoming acts continue to take it for granted. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are some of the mediums that upcoming acts can explore in order to build a vibrant fan base and network. It is a very sensitive sphere, thus, the knowledge and fear of social media is also the beginning of successes and breakthroughs.
There are quite a number of notable blogs in Nigeria that any upcoming artiste hungry to succeed needs to take serious when trying to build a name and a brand. Some upcoming artistes do not understand the power blogs wield and how much they influence careers. Upcoming artistes must maintain cordial relationships with bloggers, their owners, and freelance contributors.
4. Publicity Stunt
Now, publicity stunts could either make or break an artiste and it all depends on how well or otherwise it is executed. “Fake it, till you make it” or “Fake it to make it” is a common phrase in the global music industry. We are not going to name artistes that have benefited and are still profiting from publicity stunts. Established artistes are also guilty of not understanding how much publicity stunts could help boost their careers. A clear example of a missed opportunity is ClassiQ’s controversial “I Love You” video, which features Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau. The controversy that trailed the video dominated news headlines for several weeks, yet ClassiQ and his management, failed to seize the opportunity. If well exploited and handled, ClassiQ would be smiling to the bank by now.
5. The Art Vs. The Business
Upcoming artistes in Nigeria need to understand the difference between their love for music and the music business. This understanding could change how they see the art. Upcoming artistes must understand that music business obeys the law of demand and supply.
Every music corresponds or is peculiar, to a particular audience or environment at any given time. As such, an artiste must strive to satisfy the demands of his audience without compromising the quality of his music.
Artistes who have been able to master this technique have thrived beyond their wildest imagination. These lucky stars include Psquare, Wizkid, Olamide, Flavour, Yemi Alade, MI, Tiwa Savage and Davido.
As an upcoming artiste, you cannot afford to feed your prospective fans half-baked music, poor lyrics and lacklustre music videos.
Music business is serious business and to thrive in it, certain principles and false notions must be either upheld or erased. Upcoming artistes in Nigeria need to understand the difference between their love for music and the music business. This understanding could change how they see the art.
In the concluding part of this series, we highlight some of the blunders many upcoming artistes commit when launching their music careers.
Some artistes are confused about their style of music and cannot lay claim to a particular genre. As much as versatility should be encouraged, an artiste must define and stick to a genre of music. While consistency is the key to longevity in music, an artiste cannot achieve it when if or she keeps switching genres with every new song and album. Often times, expectations are shattered and disappointments set in when you buy a reggae album and find out it is rock ’n’ roll, or a rap album replaced with soul, or even a classless CD.
7. Pursuing Trends
Trends come and go and if you are one of those artistes who tweak their music to follow the times, which is good – you might be lucky; or you will end up as a copycat or a one hit wonder. In most cases, upcoming acts invest in the music trends of the day and end up switching into something else before the music or video they shot becomes popular. But good music is timeless and will survive the times regardless of the craze of the day. So, do your thing, do you, without compromise and you will be shocked at how many people are waiting to hear that sound, that voice, that narrative energy, that leads us to the next point.
Here, we are not saying that only political songs, party songs or edifying songs are relevant. Each of these genres are great depending on how they are explored. Most music acts do not even know that the title of their songs must have a narrative. When writing or recording a track, there must be a seamless transition from point A to B, or to D. Don’t just jumble things and put it out there in the name of art or inventing new music. The new hip-hop heads and the music taste of the new school are very sophisticated. Failure to put all these into cognizance when making your next music is a direct passport to failure.
9. Being selective
Most new acts long to and only feature the biggest music celebrity in town on a track because they feel it will translate to revenue and buzz. Some don’t even consider if there is some kind of chemistry involved before striking such deals. These artistes are carried away by the belief that once they have Mr A or B on their track, it’s a done deal, a hit, Maga Don Pay.
Ironically, most ‘hit songs’ are made by unknown acts collaborating. Ice Prince’s Oleku featuring Brymo is a great example. Both artistes were on the way to the top when the single was born. Choose wisely, study trends, as these are the only way you can find out what works or will work for you. Most times what wows, is not necessarily what works.
Before you claim to be an artiste, you must have either independently produced a body of works. Most artistes make the mistake of wanting to tour the entire country on the strength of a single song in which they feature an established act. Months or years later, they are not yet to receive the attention they deserve or presume to deserve and are not being featured on new songs. In no time, they start screaming blue murder. Blame yourself. You need to prove that you’re capable of standing alone and doing so without depending on an established act to make you make you famous. When you’re an upcoming act or artists, as the name suggests; you must regularly come up with creative ways to deliver timeless songs.