Opinion: 2017 goals | This is how the Nigerian music industry should evolve

chemistry

by Adeoye Gboyega

 

 

So daiz how I now henter this their twitter of a tin. There was fuss all over social media, people talking about Chemistry – the EP from Falz and Simi. EPs seem to be the new trend as if Nigerian artistes just noticed the term. In October 2015, alternative rapper, Blackmagic released an EP titled “Black Friday”. This year, Davido released Son of Mercy, Mitch dropped Last Minute, Lynxx was here with The Album before the Album, YCee’s First Wave is soon to be released. You ask yourself whether these guys are just doing copycat ventures or it’s just mere coincidence. What differences are there in these EPs and actual albums? In fact, the meaning of the term is being changed (by Nigerians I suppose) from ‘Extended Play’ to ‘Electric Package’ or something like that. But that’s talk for another day.

Top albums we had this year include Kiss Daniel’s New Era, Lil Kesh’s Y. A. G. I, Illygaty from Ill Bliss, Reekado Banks’ Spotlight and of course, the incredible, alternative Adekunle’s GOLD album among others. These are brilliant bodies of work that Nigerian artistes work hard mentally and business wise, creating music to entertain people and make good fortune doing it.

The entertainment industry in Nigeria is not properly set up as has been repeated in different fora. Piracy in Alaba and on the internet saps profits from these artistes who pay so much in energy and logistics to put music out and promote their craft.

I 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.

Brings me to the issue of piracy and legitimate acquisition of music. 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 a promotion for them to get people to listen to their music – be the next Wizkid and all that. 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 a few shows “before the song expires”.

When Adekunle Gold dropped his 16-track debut, he was protective against piracy and illicit sharing of his work on the internet that he threatened, (so I heard) to sue any blogger who uploaded his album for free. I’m sure he had spent a lot of money to produce the project or whatever the agreement he has with the label.

It’s a singles market apparently. You can very well relate to this because all through the years, only a few big boys (and girls) 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 however have music in store but do not have the advantage of recording on a good platform and getting promotions done.

Back to the chemistry between Falz and Simi. The craze all over twitter got me feeling like I was missing, because I had not heard any of the songs. As a big fan of Falz and his music, I was eager to listen, to find out what they have on the EP. I’d been waiting for something from Falz as it was almost a year after “Stories That Touch” which I really enjoyed and appreciated. As usual, I wanted to download the songs from any of the bloggers who must have uploaded it but I could not find “regular” websites on Google’s first result page. My faves did not have the EP or any of the songs for downloads on their platforms. They only had a review note and then dropped a link to itunes.

Spotify, Spinlet and a bunch of other web platforms are places to buy and sell music digitally.

And there I was, with this over N400 to dollar exchange rate, Falz and Simi want me to buy one song for 0.99 USD: that’s about N396 – one song o. 7 songs on the project was going to cost N2772, thereabout… “Inside recession time. E pass music? Abeg I go find another place to download illegally jare…” and of course I did get to download from other blogs. 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 dem want to rap. I was at a bar recently for a rendezvous where young boys, 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 filthy razz music that dominate the airwaves and they also hear the news (or rumours) 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. Adekunle Gold’s “golden experiment” is a perfect omen that “real music” can fly. Nigerians can love or they actually love good music. Even when you make music for the clubs, it can still accommodate some sense.

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

An example is J. Cole’s classic 2014 Forest Hills Drive that has gone double platinum since December 2014. Cole performed the album on tour across The States and in different European cities. Audiences packed in thousands from within and outside the country. Back to Nigeria. Why should it just be Lagos and Abuja and a few others that will host tours? Only on a few occasions will you find artistes performing in other parts of the country except during random campus shows or some promotional artistes’ invitation by corporate entities.

Channeling the industry investment

A lot more than this can be achieved with large audiences across the country. Album tours (or EP tours as the new wave is moving) can be properly branded and quality turnover can be made. Well-structured tour performances, the media promotions, good sound systems and stages like is done 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 not however 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. He lamented that instead of 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. Such funds can be used to establish music schools across states in the country and make it easier for real musicians to emerge.

The fact that most Nigerian artistes started their music career in church tells that rarely do you find other places in our communities (other than the church) 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 early in the 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 seems to be integrating quite well with the American audience. 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. Jidenna’s Little Bit More, Drake’s One Dance are examples of the seeming emerging fusion of American pop with that Afro flavour. The eventual evolution of Nigerian music will mean great fortune for players in the industry and for the consumers too.

 


@gboyega_adeoya writes on different themes including Nigerian music.

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