There’s a common pattern in what people perceive around the world, according to Tommy Darker in his book Why Musicians Don’t Thrive in the Modern Ecosystem, a notion that is widely accepted as true even with no proof of research that musicians face problems merely because of their flawed music scene or environment. It is believed that there’s something wrong with the aspiring artist, the music producers, the show promoters, the audience and the entire system while other systems are doing just perfect. These notions have given me the opportunity to discuss with aspiring musicians, producers and other personalities about their views on the problems hindering the growth of the music industry in Benue state (yes, there’s an industry so long as music activities take place) and to suggest solutions that could possibly lift the industry from its current predicament. These have brought me to the conclusion that aspiring artist in Benue state suffer the same fate as aspiring artists of other regions/countries with the difference being the inability of the aspiring artist in Benue state to convince the general audience into widely accepting and giving attention to their art. The different might not be true in the sight of many due to the challenges and struggles the music industry and aspiring artists face but don’t also be quick to forget that in spite of all these challenges, music is still done. Another is the refusal of aspiring artists to accept criticism, take blame for a poor content, always having the urge to explain yourself out of every situation for example, artists want to explain the lack of financial support for an individual artist or the whole collection of a local music scene and compare it to that of other regions but even if you use explanations as survival mechanism, you should also note the success stories of other local artists we often hear around the world.
According to one of my respondent, the struggle aspiring artists face is not peculiar to only the music industry, it’s a fundamental problem that has eaten deep into the state and that only the government can fix it. The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s a serious business but the common challenges facing the Benue artists ranges from lack of support, finance, enabling environment, the negligible number of specific entertainment investors, the proper mindset from the audience to support Benue music practically collaborative projects and grants, to insecurity and disunity among artists, pride, workshops that teach musicians about business and other practical stuff.
Artists are used to the syndrome of doing it all by themselves in order to release a project and this tend to consume most of their time and it leads to frustration and lack of motivation. You encounter all this when you don’t source for help from third parties, fans, interns, when you don’t build a team around you and allocate tasks to each member of your team, when you also don’t collaborate with other associates or brands that will enable you create an exceptional product worth talking about. These are all wrong starting points for an aspiring artist.
Over 80% of my respondent suggests the solution to bringing an end to the predicaments of the Benue music industry solely lies in the hands of the government by providing an enabling environment for musical activities to flourish but why some made it a governments responsibility, some apportioned it to it to investors, promoters and even the artists themselves.
Building a team of professionals (band mates, managements, producers etc.), funding your projects, staying motivated/positive according to Darker, is paramount to developing yourself as an artist or the whole collection of your music scene.
Promoting your music today I think is pretty straightforward, it is unlike in the 70s and 80s where live performances were the only tools of promoting your work. From my personal observations, the most used social media platform of most aspiring artists in Benue state today is Facebook but I find that quite limiting due to the caliber of followers on Facebook. There are the local blogs but the aspiring artists find it difficult to patronize because they want the fame and money for free (remember, funding your project is key to developing your individual self and the entire music scene). Actively engaging in other social media platforms like twitter, Instagram and YouTube by constantly posting photographs or short video clips of freestyles or stage performances helps by taking artists messages to anywhere across the world. It also enables you to create a new audience and possibly make an income. Justin Bieber for example, was constantly posting homemade videos of him performing as a pre-teenager at 12 years old nd it caught the eyes of the hierarchy at Island Def Jam recordings to sign Bieber to a huge deal. Carly Rae Jepson also released her song call me maybe on September 2011 in Canada, Justin Bieber found it a month ago and he just made a lip syncing video and twitted it out to his fans. Aside from the song going insanely viral, she was signed up right away by Scooter Braun. Also Falz the bahd guy whom is highly skilled and combines his skills in acting, singing and comedy came to fore with his Instagram Ellobaes challenge which quickly attracted massive likes. Today, he needs no introduction in the Nigerian entertainment industry. You also know the story of how Reekado Banks became a mavin artist, he was selected out of 5,000 entries on a music challenge on twitter. These examples are proof that all it takes on social media platforms is an amazing video to help launch a career . Other examples of people who became famous on social media platforms include Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara, Chalie Puth, The weekend, Austin Mahone, Ed Sheeran, Mayorkun, Emmanuella, Kenny Blaq and other emerging comedians, etc.
In the course of my research, most of my respondents supported the idea of aspiring artists doing free pub shows as it is a way to express their passion, find a new audience and come one on one with their already existing audience but most aspiring artists have denied themselves the opportunity by ignoring online performances, personal gigs in their houses or gatherings with friends and also performances in unexpected places. Most aspiring artists make the mistake of turning down invitation to perform for free forgetting that it is huge publicity platform that connects you with your online audience. Free performances are a great platform for showcasing your talent and building a stronger fan base, it is more like paying your dues and preparing yourself for the task ahead. Aspiring artists should embrace the invitations regardless.
It is important to note that, as an aspiring artist, you need to write your songs, find your own sound and be known for it. Most aspiring artist makes the mistake of trying to sound like someone else simply because they inspire their art.
Aspiring artists should also note that no one wishes to be disrespected not even by a star, the people who appreciate your work should always be appreciated back (be a fan to your fans), they are the people who indirectly market your songs, the music producers, the DJs, the bloggers, the show promoters, family and friends (who form the backbone of your career and always defend you) etc. always have a good attitude towards everyone who associate with you and your music.
I would like to end this piece with what I think is the most important in a struggling music industry, love, artists need to love and support each other, there’s the need to believe that oneness (organized private sector) can produce the entertainment industry of our dreams in Benue state.
Joshua d anomaly is a lover of football, show promoter and artist manager for wfk promotions. Follow him on twitter where he share his explicit thought on the nature of music and entertainment.