When I was on the sideline, I saw the music industry as one unfair industry; questioning everything I saw and judging them by the standard of the Hollywood music movies, I had watched while growing up.
One thing about those movies was that there is only one good artiste and the movie has been written in a way that the artiste in the lead role will make it to the top. Such movies had inspired lots of people into doing music and the end product has always been a bunch of frustrated youths who end up spending their life savings hoping that the song, everyone in their family was enjoying, will turn out to be a national hit.
In such movies, there is usually one radio station, a record label and one TV station which is different from the Nigerian reality where an artiste has to scale through the hurdles set by bloggers, DJs, On-Air Personalities [TV and Radio], Newspapers and Magazines, fellow artistes and finally, the almighty ALABA.
Alaba is one important phenomenon no one had ever cared to make a movie of and it is one world in the Nigeria music industry, many are still learning how to live in it.
Lack of promotional vision
If one must excel in music in Nigeria, he or she must expunge the Hollywood movie dreams from his mind. If one must pick something there, he should be looking at the part where the artiste becomes courageous, sells his properties to promote his songs [I am not encouraging this though].
He must be ready to sacrifice something because music has become business to him. Every business needs to be promoted, and if you must excel, you must form the habit of promoting both your songs and yourself. This is the only way or avenue people will know you and your songs. If you are not ready for this, don’t even make a single move near the studio. It doesn’t matter how good you are, promotion is the only thing that will put your songs on the lips of people who do not know you.
Why take a little when you can have all?
This is the part that gives me worries. I see people being contented with one when they can afford all with ease. Some artistes would choose one medium of promotion instead of spreading their tentacles in all. I have seen an artiste who was busy sharing mynotjustok, hulkshare and soundcloud links for a whole year, bragging that his song is online. The truth is this, for the Nigerian standard, your songs are still in your phone.
There are thousands of music blogs in the country and I wonder why an artiste who manages to get his song on just one of them is still busy bragging that his song is online. Why take just one when you can have it all? Why not ask your blogger what it will take to have your songs in other blogs. At least 30 will give you enough online presence and never go believing that when you pay huge amount to have it on the ‘big’ blogs, the ‘smaller’ ones will make the ‘copy and paste’ move to share your gospel. It is never that way.
If you don’t do it the right way, you will never get the right result.
You must never be in Lagos to succeed
Success is one thing that needs to be managed very well and I just feel sorry for artistes who feel they are not yet anywhere because people in Lagos say they don’t know them.
The real music success stories in this country did not begin in Lagos. Take the likes of Timaya, Psquare, Flavour and even Kelly Hansome for instance, they were kings in their various locations and within a short time, they found themselves in Lagos.
Although a lot has changed in the industry since 2007, regional stars are still springing up regularly. Every artiste must learn how to exploit his present environment else, he will have nothing to show for his days in music.
If you think that everyone in Lagos is a star, how many stars do you know, is their number same with the total number of artistes in Lagos?
Lagos has more radio and TV stations; it is the commercial capital of the country and no matter how hard you try, you can never have what it has in your state or city. Yet, one can rise like a king in his state and Lagos will call on him, like I said earlier. This is about doing things the right way and not complaining about everyone around you when others are busy making it.
Believe in the media
By the media I mean every medium that can spread your gospel to a lot of people. There are radio stations for a start and TV stations for those with a video. Don’t just play your songs out loud everyday through your home theatre hoping that every passerby would have enough time to cram it. They have so many things in their minds and your song might be the least of their problems.
No matter what form of airplay you can afford, get it and make sure your songs are moving out to people.
Newspapers and magazines are other media outlets an artiste who wants to be known must never overlook. While the newspapers have a short shelf lives, they take your words and face to people who mostly do not watch TV nor listen to radio, while magazines which have longer shelf lives puts you in a certain class, depending on how they are being packaged.
Go to the DJs
No one plays songs to the public more than the DJs; any artiste who wants to succeed should go to them. Don’t sit at home believing that they have your song because it is online and they are on the same city with you.
For one to succeed, he must walk with his songs and there is no two ways about it.
Never joke with Alaba
Even if you see Alaba as an annoying phenomenon in the music industry, one must not totally ignore it. For those staying far away from Lagos, there are still some regional music markets one can patronize and they are doing a lot to help their regions.
Publicity is a continuous thing, and if you cannot afford that continuous Alaba promotions, invest that money in that regional promoter because one thing I believe is that any star in South East for instance is a king and whenever he is walking into a place like Lagos, he goes like a king even when he is not well known there.
Finally, you are not the only one
This is actually the part that makes reality different from Hollywood fantasy. There are thousands of artistes scattered everywhere in the country and all of them want the same thing you want. “Success”.
There can still be parallel success for you and them but there will never be success for anyone because everyone I have mentioned whom you must pass their huddles wants nothing but money.
These days promoters are ready to play wacky songs because the artistes paid. This simply means that having a good song is not enough for you to succeed. You must run the music race, having in mind that there are plenty people scrambling for a limited space.
Music is business and anyone who is not doing anything to make it business will never succeed. Every business needs to be invested in and until those who want to do music understand this, they will keep being time wasters in the game. People who will spent the most industrious times of their lives working without being known.
Chinedu Hardy Nwadike, is a novelist, blogger, newspaper columnist, he writes from Owerri, Imo State. firstname.lastname@example.org 08038704454, BBM 763D08AE