The music industry is without question the lucrative, competitive, and glamorous sector in the Entertainment business. While the industry is embedded with gallons of talents, strategic visionaries, and handful of structured labels it is also chock blocked with myriads of wanna-be celebrities, avaricious music executives and phony unwelcoming haters.
As a fast rising or upcoming artiste it is important you know a few things that could make your journey to fame smoother. So here goes nothing.
Record, Record and Record:
You think having a flash drive containing six nice songs is enough to get you signed? Lol. What is the probability that after this six songs you will be able to create fire again? As an upcoming artiste you need to think from the perspective of a music business executive, nobody is looking for a one hit wonder or a hit and run artiste.
As a creative you would be doing yourself, your future self, and future label a huge favor by having a stash of songs. This is how you indicate that you can be consistent and you have the discipline and drive to be a superstar.
I once worked with an artiste who had over 400 songs before he got signed. After he penned his deal, he simply focused on creating while the A&R picked from his collection. This is important and takes a great deal of pressure off you.
Understand your Brand, Develop your Sound
While there is Coca-Cola with its own great taste and a pioneer in the Cola drink business. There is also Pepsi with an interesting but different taste. What do they have in common? Both brands are huge, make tons of money, share the same market and over the years have competed with other.
While Afrobeats is the reigning sound across Africa, lots of artistes all around Africa are making Afrobeats music. But there is also Wizkid, Tekno, Davido, Burna boy, Runtown, with different kinds of sound in the same genre and what do they have in common? They are all huge, make tons of money, share the same market and over the years have competed or/and complemented with other.
As an artiste your uniqueness is an important factor (Trust me you do not want to be that person that sounds like somebody else). Remember Joel from Kennis Music and how he sounded like 2 face Idibia, how did that work out for him? Being influenced by other artistes and genres is different from regenerating artistes. If it is Afrobeats you want to dwell into, you need to make it different from the rest; if it is not, stay in your lane and develop your sound, you definitely have your target market out there.
Create your Fan base
Where are your Malians? As an upcoming artiste, a cult following is your most important asset. You can’t afford to underestimate this. You say you live in Ikotun but do they know you there? Do they carry your name on their head like they carry Zlantan in Ikorodu or like Buju at Babcock University?
Record labels find it relaxing to sign musicians who have die-hard fans, that way they are assured they can make their money back. You need to have your own crowd, know your market and interact with them. Never forget you can never be an artiste without listeners and also your family and friends are often your premier fan base, record label and A&R.
Quality and Professionalism
You need to realize that your songs are like your CV so if you think because you are an up and coming artiste you deserve a pass for an unmixed or unmastered song, you are jonzing.
Professionalism in the music industry is as important as any other industry, you need to be open minded to new concepts, be teachable, re-learn and accept feedback. I also understand the feeling of putting hours into a craft and you get a negative feedback. It can be quite discouraging, but as a creative, feedback is necessary.
Do a lot of Research
What does a 360 deal mean? Is it possible I get distribution deal from another record label? What makes Mr. Eazi a different breed of artiste? How did Jay z become the first hip hop billionaire?
You can never know too much. A lot of artistes seem to forget that after all the creativity, this is a business and just like in any other kind of business there is a need for deep research. You need to understand the legalities around your craft so that you are not cheated or taken for granted.
Another mindset common with upcoming artistes is that because they are on the come up, they think contracts are not necessary. As an artiste it is important you ensure all agreements are put into contract, there is nothing like word of mouth, that little favor you think you are doing is probably worth gold in the future.
Explore other Streams of Income.
Last year, while watching Ndani’s TV Phases, I instantly fell in love with a song played on one of the episodes and that was how I got introduced to the artiste Wani.
As a creative you need to find ways to attain various streams of income. You really don’t want to stay in the studio all day creating and waiting for when a record label or sponsor would look at your side. There are lots of artistes making huge amount of money from writing songs for Advertisements, movies, shows, video games and even other artistes.
Speaking on streams, ensure that you put your songs on streaming platforms, never underestimate the power and reach of those platforms. You might be surprised that it is people in Australia that mess with your content the most.
Content Collaboration is King, Take it seriously.
Have you ever listened to a song and pause a bit and you like, wait who is this person?
Collaboration is one of the sweetest route to getting famous as an upcoming artiste. It not only gives you an opportunity to showcase your sound and explore creatively but a sweeter one to tap into another artiste’s space . This is not a joke, and as far as I am concerned music is as competitive as any sport so when you collaborate with an artiste you go in there and do anything you can to body the other artiste. You need to make your lines memorable. Do you remember the line “I am only nineteen but shawty I can make your night’’ That is a memorable line and that got me paying attention to Odunsi.
Develop Genuine Relationships
A wise man once said ‘’ with genuine relationships comes great power “–Joseph Dike Abiagom
As interesting as this sounds, when you have friends working in the music industry things would happen. It is important that you do not make everything all about business, chat up an OAP ask her about her boyfriend, and still go see a movie with her, talk about football with your producer, ask your manager about his baby mama.
People love to see the genuine humanity in other people and also some of their stories can be inspiration for content.
Management is Key
While you are being creative, it is important that you have a team of people who are invested in you and can make smart business decisions on your behalf. A lot of people carry the manager title on their head and are as confused as the artiste in terms of directions or next step.
Your manager or management team should be well connected to the music industry, understand your sound, communicate with your audience, consistently work on building a brand and critic your content. You need that “your best is yet to come spirit” from your management team.
And so with this few points of mine I hope I have been able to convince and not confuse you that…. Lol. Godspeed.
Article by Joseph Dike Abiagom