The making of an album is a process, which could be strenuous, uplifting, exciting and fulfilling and every artist who aspires to attain the tag –consummate, must go through that drill.
Making of an album takes the artist through an experience – the collaboration with songwriters, producers, studio managers, executive producers, label heads, distributors and even that cleaner who gets the studio ready for recording every day – makes the practice worthwhile.
Internationally, albums are still a big deal, largely due to the fact, they have been able to deal and cope with digital influence on the release of albums, albeit facing some challenges.
In Ghana, the euphoria that accompanies the release of albums dwindled some 15 years ago – arguably, considering the fact that, technology couldn’t be matched as the labels folded up, distributors ventured into other businesses and the pirates besieged the trade!
Ghanaian Artists Still Release Albums
Indeed, Ghanaian artists have become obsessed with the release of singles; singles not off albums, but singles that are compiled in a duration of 5 to 10 years to make an album. Blame them not, the system had not been conducive for such endeavours!
In the wave of singles, some artists were still going through the process of releasing quality albums – E.L. M.anifest, Efya, MzVee, Wiyaala and others and even for Sarkodie, who has released 5 solo albums in a spate of 8 years – quite impressive!
What makes the release of the Sarkodie’s 5th album, ‘Highest’ distinct from the rest, is how it was strategically, professionally and expertly released – making it look like it is the first time any artist in Ghana is releasing an album.
How Did He Do It?
‘Mary’, the 4th studio album which was recorded live, and touted as one of the best works of Sarkodie – was not heavily promoted and not patronized widely, in spite of all the rave reviews it garnered from music aficionados.
Another album and something was going to change and several days after its release, the ‘Highest’ album is still generating all the talk and headlines. Something did change!
From the time the word, Highest, was settled on by the artist and his team as the name for the album, everything that would come after that, was strategically planned and expertly executed.
There was a scheme on how the album was going to be released, what kind of publicity drive was going to be used in projecting the album, how the distribution was going to work and the kind of aplomb to attach to the release and its aftermath. Everything was planned!
Listening sessions and listening parties for albums are an integral part of the awareness-creation but not many Ghanaian artists have taken advantage of such an opening – and after so much exposure to what pertains on the international music arena, Sarkodie had learnt and was ready to implement.
Before him, the likes of Afrobeat/Reggae artist, Eboo and sultry songstress, Becca, had all done listening sessions to the respective sessions, but none received the level of attention Sarkodie did. Why not? It is Sarkodie.
Respectfully, the Sarkcess posse invited influential industry enthusiasts and gave them the opportunity to view and hear the audio-visuals to the album. That ploy worked to perfection as news of the album and its poignant album cover made social media rounds for weeks.
A Plea To Bloggers
Sarkodie has been tagged as arrogant and full of himself – and for many bloggers, he was not a friend. The artist even had the effrontery to record a diss song to bloggers – but, in times like this, there was business to execute and no room for the so-called arrogance or grudge.
Technically there's nothing like free download cos you still Use data … But me and you don't get paid by none of these companies
— HIGHEST (@sarkodie) August 28, 2017
We(Musicians) know when we wanna put out music for free downloads and when to sell em… So support when we put it out for sale / Free
— HIGHEST (@sarkodie) August 28, 2017
Again I respect y'all I just want us to work together 🙏🏾
— HIGHES➕ (@sarkodie) August 28, 2017
In a series of tweets, the artist pleaded with bloggers while dropping a few names and called for a partnership, where he expected bloggers and artists to help each other in selling his brand and Ghanaian music.
In a clever move, Sarkodie knew that the fight against piracy or bootlegging cannot be fought with diss songs or ‘subliminals’ – he had to strip off all the perceptions of his impertinence and beg! Interestingly, that worked too.
The music streaming portals and bloggers have never been supportive of any album as they have done to the ‘Highest’.
Six Music Videos – One Day
In this age and time, it will be suicidal for any artist or label to underestimate the power of music videos. Sarkodie is in no suicide mode, so, he goes all out with his videos and this time, he went all in.
Sarkodie barely compromises on the quality and releases of his music videos, a testament which makes him the No.1 artist in Ghana to have the most active and most-watched YouTube channel, which is managed by MiPROMO Media Network.
Releasing 6 music videos on the same day seemed unthinkably, but it was doable. After all, Beyoncé got the whole world on lock down with the 65-minute release of the visuals to her hit album, ‘Lemonade’ which encompassed several videos off the album.
All 6 six videos accompanying the release of the ‘Highest’ added to the publicity drive to the project and the artist is purposely placed to win at all fronts.
And, he just didn’t just release 6 videos for the sake of unleashing videos, he produced quality visuals that can screen on any international music channel and still score high marks.
Sony UK Distribution
Distribution of music is one of the key elements of music business, which has also been the bane of Ghanaian artists and their music to transcend the shores of the country in relation to global reach.
Although details of the deal were scanty, a partnership with Sony UK, whether directly or indirectly, surely did some wonders in the album trending tremendously on iTunes Charts across the region and on the international front.
News of the deal also boosted the publicity for the release of the album too!
You can’t have such clout and influence on an industry and not take advantage with making some revenue off your merchandise. This formula should have been utilized by Sarkodie and his team years ago, but, it is better too late or never and he couldn’t have chosen a better time to produce and sell some merchandise accompanied with the release of the album.
Aside having the album, fans would relish drinking in cups and clean themselves with towels with artwork and etchings of the artist and the album.
Sarkodie does not only command a mammoth following, the followers are loyal to the bone too! The level of enthusiasm, alacrity and frenzy with which the fans of the artist received the album is exemplary.
The passion that’s being exhibited by fans of Sarkodie is infectious and their succor for every move of the artist, especially in the projection, promotion and sale of the album is splendid!
By Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo (www.entertainmentgh.com)