So... I'm chilling by the pool area in Piccadilly Lodge and Event Center in Lekki. A massive space with very affordable rooms, a pool area, a viewing Centre, a food court, a bar and very courteous hotel staff... I was having a ball! Then I looked at my blackberry messenger and saw Rhythm FM's Anita aka Omalicha's display picture (the one above), and I thought about how it applies to the artistes in the Nigerian Music Industry.
I thought about why the industry is so saturated. I wondered why there are suddenly so many “Record Labels” being set up all over the country. I thought about why an artiste would record an awful song but strongly believe that it’s a fantastic song and would continue to promote the song regardless of what the audience thinks of it. I wondered why the lyrical content hasn’t improved at the same rate as the quality of production… don’t get me wrong we are still improving but do you watch TV or open links you get on twitter, facebook and bbm?
The mouth-watering aroma of the Shawarma interrupted my train of thought… Bliss! You guys should try it! Back to what I was saying…
I started to feel a little sorry for the OAPs and heads of library of some radio stations because when you think about it, thousands of people woke up this morning and decided that they would become musicians, including your brother, sister, cousin, and even your uncle! Then the “two things involved” joke comes into play.
Either the person has access to the money to fund his/her own career or the person looks for a producer (one whom is also struggling) that he can work with. An artiste who has funding and discovered his talent because he was bored, could get whatever he/she wants because they can afford it and the producer has bills to pay so why tell the artiste that he/she is rubbish… You wan lose business???? Let the rest of the world tell them, right?
The not-so-rich artiste who discovered his talent because he couldn’t find work goes to an equally “aspiring” producer who tells him to bring some small change for a beat. Forget the terrible music quality, it’s the best he can get from there. I could go on… What I’m trying to point out is that it’s a “dog eat dog” world and nobody cares about your feelings as long as they can make a quick buck… So they lie!
“We all lie, girls lie, boys lie, women lie, men lie… you and I, lie, lie… We all lie” In Frank Ocean’s Voice
As a result of selfish interests, people aren’t being told the truth. Managers cannot tell their artistes what they really think about the music because he/she is really a Personal Assistant and is not being paid for his “opinions”. Producers are worried about losing work and that guy that promised to put your music on air, wont tell you he really doesn’t have a say with regards to what gets played on radio because that’s not his/her job!!!!
As these lies continue, the artiste develops a shocking and disturbing and false sense of his abilities and most times, he begins to forget the concepts of respect for others, humility, and courtesy.
This brings me to one conclusion… They like being lied to!
I have a personal experience with an artiste (if you are reading this, you know yourself). I listened to his music and told him its average and that though it was an “ok” song, as an artiste you want to create something better. Now I didn’t tell him to get a new beat, the production was amazing but the guy singing wasn’t letting the greatness of the song shine forth! He got upset and said and I quote “All my guys love the song and they think it’s a mad jam”… Yup! All 6 of them! So I simply left… they didn’t need me and my “opinions” he just needed me to come in and say “your song is great, to promote this I will charge…”. He wasn’t looking for someone to tell him the truth because he rides and strokes his ego and self esteem based on the fact that his friends love his music. He didn’t need me to come and spoil that!
The most successful artistes have people who they respect sitting over them and telling them, constructively, what they think about the music, the business and personality. There is always mutual respect. Regular reality checks help good artistes grow. MI has Audu, and Paul… Banky W has Segun Demuren… Wizkid has Banky W., Segun Demuren and Osagie… P Square has Jude Okoye, and Justin Bieber has Usher! To be honest, the person who should be responsible for this is the A&R Rep. Unfortunately a lot of record labels in Nigeria do not employ the services of or do not respect the job of the A&R rep. And that too is a sad thing.
As an artiste you need the right direction and to get on it sometimes, we may not like what we are told. Spend time studying and improving yourself. Learn about the music and if you can take it, do surveys and find out what people who don't even know you think about the music... Wait, we already have those blogs!
Ask yourself honest questions… Why are you a musician? Is it because you truly have talent or is it because you saw Wizkid ballin’ out in the club and felt you wanted that life too!
This is also a challenge to managers. Take control of the artiste’s career and show them how it can be done. Speak confidently to your artiste… The only reason you really can’t do that is because you don’t know what you are doing. Fix that quickly and earn your respect.
As a musician, to earn the benefits of being a successful artiste you have to become successful. It is not rocket science, if its not wanted people will not buy the music nor buy into your brand! Give your time, resources and energy to create music people love and want to hear and then focus on ensuring that supply is consistent. Just like the Shawarma at Piccadilly!!!
If you want to be an artiste, be good at it! Stop trying to be comfortable all the time. Challenge yourself to be better and learn to accept constructive criticism. Anything worth doing is worth doing the right way. The right way is a lot of work, with or without money. It is sometimes hard to advice yourself so surround yourself with honest people… and they don’t have to be your friends! You might enjoy the “Yes Men” activities around you now but as you get older and hopefully more popular and pressure begins to mount, then you will understand why you don’t need them around you. The earlier you realize this the better though.
As a “wannabe”, you really need to know when to stop. If you have money, invest in a career that is more likely to succeed. Spending money on a talent that is non-existent is like spending all your money on a girl that doesn’t like you, eventually, you will be broke and she will walk away!
Think about it!
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
Frank A. Clark
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."