How do we Change the Music Industry in Nigeria?

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Culture and LifestyleMusic

By Gboyega Adeoya

Editor’s note: Jay-Z’s album, 4:44, released on the 30th of June, hit Platinum within a week. And it was not even on popular platforms. As Wizkid’s ‘Sounds From The Other Side’ comes down on July 14th, how do we get our Nigerian audience to pay for quality?

The entertainment industry in Nigeria is not properly set up as has been mentioned on different fora. Piracy in Alaba and on the internet saps profits from many artistes who pay so much in energy and logistics to put music out and promote their craft. I once watched a front liner in the industry complain about the fact that in some cases, artistes do not get what is deserved after so much money is spent on creating and promoting songs. He mentioned that artistes, most of whom are not signed under a record label, work out their way to write songs, pay for studio sessions, for production, to shoot videos and then do promotions on radio and TV, on blogs and in the clubs.

Whenever there is new music out, bloggers who are paid and even those who are not hired by the artiste all publish reviews and upload these songs on their blogs. I tend to ask myself in what ways is this in the favour of the artiste? Some upcoming artistes enjoy this because it is a form of promotion for them to get people to listen to their music. But for the made artiste who actually spends a lot of money to put an album together, they do not get legitimate buys from people. They probably make back their bucks from playing shows “before the song expires”.

It’s a singles market apparently. You can very well relate to this because all through the years, only a few big artistes get to drop albums that make it to the stores and the charts. Some artistes are just all about dropping singles, shooting the video, performing the song and no albums afterwards. And some of them have music in store but do not have the advantage of recording on a good platform and getting promotions done.

Then comes the question of whether or not it is possible to regulate music blogs against illegal upload of protected works. The whole point here is that we need a structure for the music industry in Nigeria, a system that will compel fans to buy music instead of free downloads. The Industry has been projected to grow bigger and bring reasonable investments in the next few years and beyond. Indeed investment is deserved.

The Music Industry is expanding in leaps and bounds, not just in Lagos, but all over the country. Lately, the craze is rife among teenage boys especially. All of them “want to rap”. I was at a bar recently for a rendezvous where upcoming artistes were invited to perform and as you may have guessed, they were woeful. No content. No definition. Do you blame them? They are products of popular Nigerian music. They watch and listen to the rather empty musical content that dominates the airwaves and they also hear the news of how much corporate bodies pay artistes in endorsement deals. These young artistes spend “quality time” fantasizing and daydreaming to be like the overrated “endorsement-seeking” cliché trap music practitioners we have all over the place. You hear the cliché lines among these lyrically unavailable artistes everyday: “Yesterday, I was broke, today I have blown. Ati gbowo, a ma saye, bring the beer and bring the girls…” I’m sure those lines are not strange.

But this is not to say that “crap” music is all we have. There a really great artistes and musicians in the industry and we can recognize them. It really does not take too long to identify great talents whose works are real and well delivered. Those are the ones who deserve the well-structured music industry. These guys work hard, do things out of the regular cliché methods and bring real entertainment. Indeed, Nigerians can love or they actually love good music. Even when you make music for the clubs, it can still accommodate some sense. House Music genre in popular culture readily comes to mind.

Comparing the American system of promotions to what we have in Nigeria, we see an incredible contrast, just like in politics. Record labels strike massive promotion deals with the media – electronic and the magazines such that maximum profit is made from tours and record sales.

Channeling Investment in the Industry

A lot more can be achieved with large audiences across the country. Album and other tours can be properly branded and quality turnover can be made. Well-structured tour performances, the media promotions, good sound systems and stages, like it is done in other climes. This is one of the ways in which the proposed fund can be invested in the industry. More focus should be placed on making original music which can compete incredibly with music from other parts of the world on global charts.

While Nigerian artistes should try to make global sounds, they should however not remove the Nigerian content in their music. There should be music schools to groom young people who have passion for music and indeed want to learn to play whatever type of music instrument. They can properly understand the rudiments of music of different genres and master the craft. Corporate bodies spending so much money on endorsement deals with every Dick and Harry who has some hit songs that are probably wholly noisy with no real music content, could redirect part of these funds to establish music schools and make it easier for real musicians to emerge.

The fact that most Nigerian artistes, including music producers, started their music career in church tells that rarely do you find other places in our communities (other than churches) where “music-hungry” teenagers find a means of expression – playing the drums, the guitar or the piano and other instruments. If there are music schools that will train original musicians, you can be sure there will be more “alternative music acts” otherwise known as “real musicians” who understand what indeed the art should represent. Not just club songs all day on radio even in the early morning.

The Nigerian sound is blowing up and growing bigger by the day. There must be more to Roc Nation’s parley with Tiwa Savage. Wizkid, whose massive ‘Sounds From The Other Side’ drops in days, seems to be integrating very well with the American and indeed global audience. Tekno, Davido, Kiss Daniel and many others are enjoying great reception in other countries. A number of other Nigerian stars have international deals and collaborations. Some of the guys over there too are beginning to find an alternative in the African sound of which Nigeria’s is a major deal. The eventual evolution of Nigerian music will mean great fortune for players in the industry and for the consumers too.

Feature Image: glamsquadmagazine.com

Follow Adeoya on twitter @gboyega_adeoya.

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