How to make it in the nigerian music industry part 1

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to make it in the nigerian music industry part 1

It's a great time to be in the Nigerian music industry and it can only get better. Starting from the year 2000, we've continually seen a trend that doesn't seem to be phasing out anytime soon. Might be a direct result of the general Nigerian mentality - Whatever is selling, we all do.

If a product is selling, you see most folks jumping on the parade. The creative side of the Nigerian music industry as unfortunately suffered tremendously from this enigma. The good news for the upcoming ones is the opportunity it brings to the table for them.

There are few songs that have captured our hearts and have propelled unknown chaps into overnight stardom. For the sake of brevity: Kiss Daniel - Woju; Ice Prince - Oleku; Davido - Dami Duro. I will as well highlight those things you need to be wary of if you want your music career to kick off or want to sustain it.

It's tough to break into the Nigerian music industry - not a breaking news - I know. But, it's important to note because most times we think all needed to make a song popular is by spending a whole lot on radio and TV promo. While the necessity of money can't be overemphasized, it's important that you the musician have something you bringing to the table. Davido is not the only dude from a silver spoon that has veered his head into the music industry. If it were to be about the money alone, we should have most of these rich kids becoming A-list artiste. That however isn't the case. Money is important but it's not the most important thing. The very first most important aspect of your music career is the need for you to sound different.

We hear it all the time - Sound different. It can be interpreted differently. 'Sounding like' is not the same as 'singing like'. That's where one of the major issue lies. Which is why you have folks mourning about how most Nigerian music sound alike. Once a song with a particular rhythm becomes popular, it's not unusual to have replica of such song for the next six to nine months. Countless songs sound like Woju - Kiss Daniel; some like Duro & Pana - Tekno and recently Mad Over You - RunTown.

During the 'Pangolo music' era, it was a deadly pandemonium. All that was needed was a bpm of almost a thousand, a deep sounding kick, some awful sounding chords and accompanying instruments and lyrics that made absolutely no sense as a body. Once a producer cooks up a beat, the artiste will keep free-styling on the beat. Looking for words that fit into the rhythm. So long as the words fit it, meaning was meaningless. A few folks were doing their thing though and excelling at it as well. Wande Coal of the Mushin to Mohits era, D'Banj, Sound Sultan, Eldee, Tuface, PSquare and a few others. They had their own sound. The few that didn't want to do the Pangolo sound opted to sound like some of these veterans.

They mostly failed. Why should I want to listen to someone who awfully attempts to sound like D'banj or Wande, when these A-list guys keep dropping hits after hits. Even people that have tried to sound like Fela only survive on shows hosted at beer parlors. Many of the Fela wannabes would sound, sing and as well dress like Fela. They think copying the three will help them break through. Not so easy.

Jo-El of Kennis music jumps to mind of someone that's been lucky on this aspect. He sounds and sings and looks like Tuface Idibia. Here's the thing though, if you can't look like Wizkid, sing like Wizkid or sound like Wizkid, then there's no point sounding like Wizkid while leaving the other two parts unattended to.

If you do that, you already nailing your career into the coffin before it gets started.

Another way I've noticed artist try to have a sound of their own is yelling out their stage-name or signature slang in every song. Annoyingly, some have it at the beginning and end of each song. For an unknown face, it makes no difference. People are not interested in cramming your stage-name or slang into their head. If you are screaming your name on a beat that sounds like a beat that's been used by 200 other artists, then its of no use to the listener. It evokes no emotion and if it evokes no emotion, it's noise.

No doubt, dance track sells. That's how it is, worldwide. The only problem is that, in Nigeria, in order to infuse our Nigerian flavor and still make a song not sound like Fuji, we are limited to about 4 drum patterns/loops. Why this is noteworthy is that relying on a completed beat to give you an hit track might work once in a while, but will not sustain you. It's no wonder the sky high numbers of one hit wonders we have in Nigeria.

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