Over time, I have come to critically observe the contemporary Nigerian music industry and I’ve questioned the many factors that surround it. Eventually I was able to come to conclusions as to why this is like this and that is like that, and with my knowledge in the creative advertising and case studies was able to reach these conclusions as to why many newbies in the industry get it wrong.
Image: Kimson Masters for The Kush Chronicles
1. You steal beats from already famous hits for your debut.
Unless you’re already successful or you have well connected persons pushing you on the scene, try not to steal beats from already existing hits for your debut album. It doesn’t project you as an original. You’ll get to be seen as someone riding on the success of another artiste. Well…except you are able to make your song far more interesting than that of the original such that people hardly even notice the borrowed element.
2. You’re afraid to experiment with tunes, beats and lyrics.
If you’re not a daring artiste then you may be missing out on opportunities to come out with unique productions. Check out those who did it – Dbanj and Don Jazzy’s manner of fusions that set their music apart. Or check out Kas who sings in monotone and combines it with crazy beats. And if want an international example, explore the works of Robert Kelly (R.Kelly). What’s the result? You can see it all on the charts.
3. Your videos consist of you in sunshades and sexy girls dancing around you.
This has fast become a cliché in most music videos today. Just tune into any Nigerian TV station during lunch hour or in the late evenings today and you’ll discover that 80% of the music videos being played all look like this.
I’ve already talked about the sunshade issue in an earlier post. It hides your identity; it kills the perception of your facial representation as a brand (I hope I made sense with that). Let your face register as the REAL artiste with your audience. Nothing’s bad with wearing them, only don’t make it a brand thing. It makes you look like every other artiste.
And you singing all through the video with sexy girls dancing around you is overrated and only shows lack of creativity. In case you don’t know, your video strongly markets you as a brand; a perception of you is created in your video and when a video shows creativity, it becomes more memorable and gives people a reason to talk about it. When your song is not too good, you still have the opportunity to make an imapct if you’ve got a superb video.
4. Your videos also showcase you drinking alcohol, smoking and flashing cash and jewelry.
This does not tell the audience how cool you are because it only shows that you have low self esteem. Why would you flash all the cash to let people know you don ‘hammer’? It’s the cheapest way for a failing artiste to lie about his/her status and believe me, your audience know better. Display of alcohol and splashing it about is not a trendy thingy either. It’s been way over-used and is usually a useless element that’s of no significance to the video. Except your song talks about booze, adding it adds no color or essence to your video.
5. Almost all your tracks have been auto-tuned
For those who may not know what the ‘Auto-tune’ is, it’s the part or plug-in of the software used in recording studios to manipulate your vocals to sound better or different. This was an effect pioneered by the Late Roger Troutman back in the 80’s with his Talk box, a device attached to his keyboard to give his voice different effects.
Thanks to the computer, American artistes like T-pain and Lil’ Wayne have helped bastardize it. The same also goes for Naija artistes who are indulging in massive auto-tuning. It’s become so rampant in contemporary Naija music. Now anybody can release an album; many so-called upcoming artistes with bad voices now auto-tune the living daylights out of their vocals and fool the public into thinking they can sing. But they can’t keep up the façade for long – wait till the time comes for them to perform live. That’s when you know who can truly sing! As an upcoming artiste, its better you stick closer to your real voice so that you don’t traumatize your audience when it comes to the live performance.
6. You’re always showcasing yourself as a ‘bad boy' in your music and videos.
Many artistes think the ‘bad boy’ image is dope. LOL! It’s not. Why? In a society like ours you can’t afford to be a bad example on the entertainment circuit if you intend to stay relevant. Upcoming artistes should realize that artistes can also become ambassadors which means someone who cuts a responsible image; someone the society wouldn’t mind being a mentor to their children. Taking such positions would mean more exposure, publicity and endorsement deals for the artiste. Can a ‘bad boy’ or ‘bad girl’ be given such a role? I mean, imagine a Terry G who glorifies internet scam or a Kelly Handsome who fights in public being made a role model for kids…Not!
7. The themes of most of your songs are about making money and spending it lavishly.
Just as mentioned in the 2nd point, you’ll only be tooting your horn arrogantly but will only sound like you’ve got a low self esteem. Why not teach people about what it takes to make it and not what it takes to show it?
8. You only offer to perform at a live event if offered money.
Many upcoming artistes make the mistake of being too focused on the money they’d end up making after a performance. Mind you, you’re a nobody and nobody likes to hire a nobody to perform. But people will allow you to perform if you make it free.
Always offer to perform for free in any event you get the opportunity to show yourself. In due time, your popularity will build and by them you would have trained yourself in live performance, gotten to meet others you can learn from. Once you become known, you can begin to attach a price to yourself.
9. You shoot your video by yourself
Especially when you’re not trained to shoot videos, don’t ever attempt to do this. Let a professional do it for you. Your first video should be an investment into a good quality and creative representation because first impression matters and sticks longer. Don’t get overwhelmed by the mentality that you must do everything by yourself.
10. Your mind is warped in the belief that sex sells and you infuse it in your songs
True. Sex sells but only lazy uncreative artistes would go that route. Why? Because it’s the easiest but it’s not memorable because you’ll sound like every other desperate artiste and eventually fade into oblivion.
11. You’ve got no mentor
You’re entering a territory where there are those who already know how the system works and you decide to do it solo? Bad idea. If not for Dbanj’s mentoring, Wande Coal would have been zero. If not for Banky W, Whizzkid would be nowhere, and the list goes on.
Lastly, I’d like to mention that if you’re under the delusion that you can sing when everybody is telling you you can’t, and it is very glaring, please wake up, face reality and find your true calling elsewhere. Don’t wait for some judge at an audition to tell you you sound like crap. Otherwise, good luck with auto-tuning!
PS: Na my own I talk Oh! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion!