The primary reason for doing music is for the money and the eventual fame that comes with it, although after a couple singles, artistes go for interview and say they do music for the passion. Maybe passion is the ignition, but money and fame is the fuel. That being said, the essence of making music is the direct conversion to fame and money. For music to convert to fame and money, one major key is PROMOTIONS.
There isn’t any hard and fast rule to music promotions, often times what works for artiste A might not work for artiste B, but some things are just essentials.
My name is Wale Applause. Having worked with quite a lot of acts such as Olamide, and currently working with Lil Kesh, maybe i know a little about music promotion i would like to share.
In a lay man’s language, promotion is the constant, almost back to back play of a song anywhere and anytime. From experience, people tend to like and sing along a song that they hear as many times as possible.
The best way to sell your music is unconscious marketing of the song. Unconscious marketing is when your song is being played everywhere at anytime, by everywhere i mean marketplaces, boutiques, bars, canteens, i mean every public place.
The quality of a song doesn’t in anyway determine the strength of a song, apologies to Small doctor. Promotions determines the strength of a song.
The first assignment of the artiste is to know and understand the audience you are singing for. Truth be told, you cannot sing for everyone and everyone cannot like your song. Olamide & Kesh chose the streets, Phyno chose his brothers from the east, Mr. Eazi chose the Ghanaians and London babes, Adekunle Gold went for the mature folks. Choosing for fan base is important because it helps you expand, these first set of fanbase become staunch fans who will eventually carry you on their head and do the main promotion for you.
The next thing is to create a song that can be played anywhere at every time. Your first mission is to ‘blow’ people will find out how talented you are later. Do a song that will fly on radio, bars, clubs etc. It doesn’t necessarily have to be noisy or vulgar. Just do a song that can cut across. Take a cue from Burna boy, Adekunle Gold and Mr. Eazi.
What PR and PR companies do is make your song available on every platform, they don’t necessarily blow a song. A SONG IS ONLY BLOWN WHEN IT IS ACCEPTED BY THE PEOPLE.
Let’s take the channels one at a time stating its function, strength and importance.
This includes music websites and social networks. It is very important that your music is on all major platforms, but DO NOT neglect the “small blogs”. They play a more important role than top blogs. Let me break it down. Top blogs give you a platform, and presence but ask yourself, how many people actually go to top blogs to down new songs by a newbie, just a small percentage. It’s almost very compulsory that your song are on top blogs but it is more important that you have your song on smaller blogs as they are called because they do more promotion for you than you think. These so called smaller blogs send Whatsapp and BBM broadcast messages, they send mails, they post almost every new material on their social network, they advertise their websites on other platforms, they do unconscious PR for you, because they are also in your shoes, they need audience for their website. Another reason is that most of these small websites publish sensational news, these news are inviting and you find out that more people click on these news and visit these websites, because they offer more than music. That way you stand a higher chance of being seen. Also, talking about Top blogs, aim for sites that give you more downloads, sites visited more by Djs, i mean street Dj (coming to this later) a good example is naijaloaded.com, Tooxclusive.com. The likes of Notjustok gives you a platform and indeed for artistes in need of sponsors and investors, it put you in the eyes of these people as the site has a good audience outside Nigeria where data is almost free.
Social Media promotion is good, but not as effective as it used to be back in the day. Back in the early days of twitter, trends used to happen because a certain topic is being talked about by many people at same time, but today, most trends are induced. It’s good to have your material talked about by Social media influencers, but not to the extent that it becomes annoying. Most tweeps have unfollowed “trending account” because there is nothing interesting about them, all they do is trend. Get social media influencers that talk about various other things than music, they have more audience. Have them talk about your song subtly but frequently. You cannot crowd people’s TL with a link to your song. It can be annoying. Find your way to their heart gently, it’s more appealing. You can’t force people to download your song, you did not buy them data, even if you did.
I will ask you one cogent question, HOW OFTEN DO YOU LISTEN TO RADIO? If you did not do music, would you possibly listen to radio everyday? May be not. This is not to say that Radio is negligible, it’s not, but alas radio promotions isn’t as strong as it used to be.
We live in the age and time where OAPs live more like celebrities, if you ask me they need money to keep up. Where do you think they get this from? Salary? You must be laughing too. Radio is indeed losing it’s essence because way back, good music had a way of finding itself on air but now every song is tantamount to an advert, someone must be paid.
What is the essence of having your song played on radio once a day and that’s all. I listen to your song on radio, i like it but i don’t know the title or your name. Must i always go on twitter to check tweets, HELL NO!
This is the situation we find ourselves now. Sadly i see a lot of new artistes rejoice over a couple airplays which they paid for. What a wawu! They more often think about the tweets and not the effect of the airplay. For radio promotions to be effective, you need to employ the services of radio stations and OAPs that can play you often without you having to place a reminder call. You need OAPs that will mention your name on air before, after or while your song is being played. Your name shouldn’t just be mentioned on the day you come for interview which would most likely be listed to by your friends.
If you must rely on radio promotions, your song must be playing as many times as possible on at least 5 radio stations. DO NOT be radio station specific. Let the audience of the song you are pushing dictate what radio station or OAP you are talking to. You wouldn’t take a noisy song to Classic Fm, same way you won’t take a full english song to Faaji FM. Every radio station has a “type” of music they can play back to back. UNDERSTAND THAT!
Also, take your music outside Lagos. We all know that Lagos is over crowded musically, but there is a saying that Once you can sell in Lagos, you can sell anywhere. Let’s not forget that songs like Yahoozee and Gongo Aso blew from Ibadan. The OAPs in radio stations outside Lagos are a lot friendlier, less cost intensive and a lot cost effective. They honestly put in work than Lagos OAPs who are hustling just like you, forget the facade. OAPs outside lagos will very readily see you as a brother and friend than the ones in Lagos would. Think about that.
Wondering why i had to take this out of the online subtopic, its intentional. People oftentimes forget that facebook of all the social networks is one place where you can be the real you. Facebook has your friends, neighbours, cousins, maybe your entire family on it. These people form a core of your fanbase. They can ‘off shirt and fight’ for you if need be. People on Facebook know the real you. Some people on there even know what you had for breakfast, support is easy because they know you. As long as the online sphere is concerned, you need the people on Facebook more because most of them even know you before you started music. Invest in Facebook ads. There are daily, weekly and monthly options. It gives you a good reach.
Oh those lovely days of Terry G, Danny Young, Kleva J when alaba promo was the magic, but alas we have left that age. This is the new age.
Alaba promotions is very good especially if you can afford it. What it does is that it spreads your song to other parts of the country, but what is the effect of the spread. Alaba promotions is very good especially if you get the right hands to handle it for you, but the disadvantage is that once you start alaba promo, you cannot go back.
For an effective alaba promotions, be ready to spend money. There are 3 classes of people who must get something from you for your job to go well. 1. The Marketers 2 The Djs 3. The Jacket Designers.
These 3 classes of people are very numerous. You would be lying to yourself to think that you can give everyone something. Even if you have a budget of N5000 for each person (which would not work though) you will be in need of millions to reach everyone, so here is what you do.
I advise newbies especially to get “someone” who knows the market well, someone who knows what marketer can handle which song. When the right marketer has been identified, subject to the available budget you have him get you other marketers you can trust. These people will be sorted while the major marketers happens to be your supervisor for the project. This same supervisor will help you get Djs, (number also subject to budget) who work for different marketers. The Djs need to be sorted because they are the ones who make the mixes to be dubbed en masse, while the marketers are sorted because they are the ones who pay to dub the cds, i hope you understand that. The Jacket Designers are given something to make sure your picture appears on the Jacket which is another form of promo, such that even if a customer is not buying the Cd, he/she can see your face.
After all these is done, week in week out, the “someone” who was assigned to the job has to visit Alaba international market, to make sure the job is being done effectively, to be sure your song is way up in the track list, to acknowledge that the song title and artiste name is correct for every production and more. There are weeks he has to go with several bottles of wines and alcohol to be distributed to Marketers and Djs as motivation and reminder.
From my brief, you can already see how stressful and cost intensive it can be.
In this age and time that we find ourselves, Alaba mixes don’t do well in (especially) Lagos like it used to because people get to download mixes from prominent Djs online, you find out that more mixes are sold in the east where you necessarily don’t have your fans.
The term street promotion is an ambiguous one and cannot be strictly defined. Street promotions cover the Clubs, Market places, Boutiques, brothels, restaurants and bars, petrol stations, the list goes on.
As of today, street promotions happens to be the most tasking but most effective form of promotion. Let me be quick to add that NOT EVERY PR / ARTISTE MANAGER CAN SAIL IN THIS WATER.
Street promotion is the best form of promotion because once your song keeps popping in many places at same time, that’s all you need. There are several example of songs that took off from the streets, but i will site Shoki by Lil Kesh and Double Wahala by Oritshefemi as examples. These are songs that ordinarily wouldn’t have been played on radio, but the street took it to the radio. Once your song is popping on the streets, everyone wants to identify with you because you are winning. Who doesn’t like winners? The question of how do you get your song to these places, how do they play my song back to back is one that bugs every newbie, but as difficult as it seem, it’s the most effective. Loudspeakers in public places have no dimension, people pass to and fro in front of them hereby getting music into their head unconsciously. Take for instance a loudspeaker at the entrance of Computer Village Ikeja, That speaker probably has more effect that radio because it can play one song all day without any questions being asked, and people get to listen consciously or unconsciously. The owner of the speaker has the sole right to whatever come out of the speaker. Whatever comes out of the speaker get to the sellers and buyers.
(Here let me give you a secret about blowing, you only blow when people think you are about to blow, more people begin to identify with you and your song. What street promo does is give people a feel that you are about to blow, making you more susceptible to acceptance)
Street promotions gives a pseudo-blow feeling and people begin to assume that you are almost there because your song is popping on the streets.
For street promo, you need to target best location of fit for your song. e.g. Small Doctor and Agege & its environs. You need to know where your song will be very well accepted.
Another hint is target bars and brothels. The Djs here can have your song on repeat for as much as 10 times with no one to question them, but a club Dj will almost find it difficult because the club is for turn up. How many times in the club does the Dj finish playing a hit song before going to the next song, it’s their job to turn the people up, in this case people only turn up to hit songs, but in bars and restaurants that are visited all week, (bearing in mind that most club nights start from wednesday) the Dj or bar man can have just your promo Cd playing back to back for hours.
It’s easier to get more playtime at the bars than at the club and people pay more attention to new music in bars than clubs. Do not forget that most club Djs are celebrities too, they need money to keep up and shoot videos too, even if you are going to be contributing to that, make sure its worth it.
You have to live and breathe your song, this doesn’t mean you need to bore everyone around you. You need to visit your social networks often, be your own PR. One mistake often made by artistes is that they only frequent their social networks when they have a new material, and all they do is come online to retweet or repost. That’s not right. You need your budding or already existing fan base to see and know that you have a life outside music which you do. You will be making more fans when people find out you have more to offer than your music and you share things such as football clubs, perfumes, ideas and ideologies in common. It’s actually very rude to just come online and all you do is retweet mentions about your song. It is a major key that you communicate often with your fans. Go outside music, deal with life on social media. Take a cue from Adekunle Gold and Mr Eazi. These 2 have a fanbase that will support them even if they decide a change of trade.
Your immediate community needs to know you are an artiste and you have a song that you pushing. You need people who can and will always want to identify with you. Olamide will always have Bariga, Wizkid will always have Surulere. WIN YOUR STREET.
THE PR/PR AGENCY
As said earlier, it is honestly not the Job of the Pr to make a song a hit, but what makes a hit is the acceptance by the people, but before a song can be accepted by the Pr, it has been made readily available through all channels. The PR needs to understand the artiste, the song and the target audience. In the Nigeria music scene today, an effective PR is one that is street grounded. One that is connected to not just Top Djs, but street Djs who can “carry the song on their head”. Packaging doesn’t do it anymore. The PR/PR agency needs a strong connection with the street and the audience. It is more than bank transfers these days. They want to see you on the street. Hold meetings with them, visit their bars often, you never know the magic 2 bottles of beer can do. I have said it severally that not all Artiste managers can do PR and not all can do artiste management, they are 2 different entities but you would be lucky to have a Wale Applause who can adequately combine both when deem fit.
There is still a lot to be said about Promotions that can’t be said in just one epistle. Hopefully i get to do another write up where i can extensively focus on the channels stated here and more, As much as possible, seeing artiste grow as a brand and as an entity is my passion, in other words PR and artiste Management, i also like to get paid for my passion. I see you in Part 2