Breaking into the Nigerian music industry
The Nigerian Music industry has found itself for one reason or another recycling the same sound, same ideas (same outfits but let’s not get distracted) because of the initial need to do something entirely different. Actually, that is what we are going to be discussing, something I like to call the ‘box syndrome’.
More often than not we hear people say ‘Think outside the box, be creative’. While we do need to be creative especially as content creators and part of the creative industry, sometimes this can put you under undue pressure to create some breaking edge, Avantgarde product. Don’t get me wrong, if you can do this even better but that is not everyone’s turf some people do better within the box.
A better approach I like to take to thinking outside the box is to manipulate the box as much as possible and soon enough you will be able to form another shape from that box. You can think outside the box but you must not forget that there is a box. Make sense? I hope so! Now let us talk about this concerning music in Nigeria.
If you are knowledgeable about the entertainment industry especially music, you know that having the singing talent does not do much for your career as an artiste. Don’t crucify me, you know it is the truth. If anything it may hinder you from striking that safe balance between good music and fat pockets because the happening sound right now is the Afrobeat genre. Now imagine being a jazz musician in an industry that side eyes any sound that does not fit into the Afro group? The pressure of being a minority can bend or worst case scenario breaks you.
By bend, you may find yourself adjusting to the norm just so that you can find your spot and breaking can have you totally of the music scene if conforming is not in your nature. We have seen this happen over again with multiple artistes. A typical example of talent who had to bend is Skales. The young man came in full of dreams and passion for rap but as time went on he realised that the rap culture in Nigeria especially at the time of his breakout was zero to non-existent. Possibly against the advice of his management then, he delved into rap and a solid 9 years after he has come back to singing the usual.
We have seen this vicious cycle happen with various acts and could this rinse and repeat have been avoided. Definitely!
Hear me out, if we were not so caught up in creating something entirely new that would be received by the market, these artistes will not feel the intense pressure associated with the vicious cycle of having big dreams for your sound, getting into the industry, insisting on doing music your way and most times failing, coming back to square one and following the Afro trend just to pay bills and repeat.
What about baby steps? Coming into music with your sound and infusing that into what the people already love and consume, you grab their attention with the rave and your talent, get your loyal and slowly migrate to producing your original sound. think of it as weaning a child. Most mothers just don’t take the child off breastfeeding but alternate breastmilk with solid food.
Take a look at the young talents springing up like Rema, Santi, Fireboy, Lady Donli and so on. It is evident that these people have their different styles and sound but even now and again, they drop something for popular consumption.this is what I mean by manipulating the box till you find a new shape.
So dear young talent, never lose your originality but remember that there is a market to feed. While working for inclusivity in the music industry, you might need to marry your sound and the sound until you are solid enough to push your sound alone.
Avid music listener.