By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The past week was inundated with series of interesting conversations that all address one core matter in the music industry. Patapaa made the news at the back of Stonebwoy’s seemingly awkward lyrics for his new song, ‘Putuu’. AY Poyoo caused a stir on social media thanks to his hitting 1 million views on YouTube with his music video, ‘GOAT’ and Akhan made the headlines for featuring the likes of Poyoo, Shatta Bundle and Ablekuma Nana Lace.
What stood out most significantly from happenings of last week was AY Poyoo’s incredible feat which sparked some fierce debate on the reason he was getting all the numbers, fixation and popularity ahead of other artistes the naysayers claim are more talented.
Critics growl over the rise of the likes of AY Poyoo, claiming that Ghanaians seem to give succour to persons without talent and project Ghana and Ghanaian music in such a bad light.
Unfortunately, such critics fail to realize that, in this 21st century of music business, talent is not enough and the earlier they get a grip on this fact, they better!
Ghana is abound with such talent and they are everywhere. It is amazing to realize the sort of talented guys out there that can sing, belt out notes and can compete with Lucifer, the angelic voice in heaven.
Personally, I get plenty notifications every week on persons who can sing and want their music out there. There are a lot of talented people out there but unfortunately, their struggle in making many others also realize their skill in itself, is an attestation that having talent alone just isn’t enough. We are also privy to the fact that tons of gifted artists have never had their talents see the light of day commercially and may never have. They will continue to linger in the doldrums with some still remaining oblivious to the world of glitz and fame.
Talent is golden but it is only a starting point; it’s all of the other things you do that will separate you from the pack. The sooner we can accept the fact that, the talented act out there is just one of many, the sooner we can get to the bottom of how we can, indeed, rise above the phenomenon.
Talent Alone Doesn’t Pay Bills
The next time your landlord or landlady request for rent, try offering your talent to him and see your backside sleeping on the streets, or, try using that talent to pay for electricity or water. In fact, try walking to your favorite ‘Waakye’ joint, and sing to the seller as payment for the food and see if she would not slap that voice out of you.
Patapaa, with all his so-called ‘untalented’ self, was able to buy a land and put up a 3-bedroom house in Swedru in the Central Region, thanks to his 2018 hit single, ‘One Corner’ – which was accompanied by a string of high profile performances across the country and abroad. Meanwhile, that fellow who genuinely has such a remarkable singing or rapping abilities has been floundering for years, still grinding and looking for that big break.
Today, the likes of AY Poyoo are garnering all the attention, critical mention and numbers, which would definitely translate into big revenue, yet, the likes of Kyei Nyom, Ayesem, Offei and their ilk, who are super talented are still hustling for those well-needed numbers and acclaim.
Audiences and musicians alike understand that technical excellence is a necessity if one wants to make it in music but that being said, it’s hardly all you need for success.
This Is Business
At this critical stage of the trade of music, people still think music is all about the show? Or about who has the most wholesome talent?
In the USA, Herbie Hancock is a Grammy-award Jazz great, is a million times talented than Taylor Swift, but quite frankly, the young lady has the highest number of Number 1 songs, Number 1 albums, has the most money, has the most endorsement deals and has the biggest fame.
Being a talented songwriter or performer without taking the time to understand the rudiments of the music business is the equivalent of a company that makes a great product that no one will ever hear about because they have no marketing department. In other words, having the talent is just the tip of the iceberg.
Like any business, that talented chap got to learn the landscape of the music business, know who the major players are and how to connect with them, and set specific goals along the way in order to get to the next level. It is essential to have a plan, albeit not being an easy road.
AY Poyoo and his team had a plan; to build a cult following on social media and also be bold in calling or reaching out to every known or popular figure in the business, both local and international. In less than a year since any music enthusiast heard of his name, he’s achieved both, attaining the numbers and getting the attention of international super stars like Snoop Dogg, Michael Blackson and others.
His call to South African star, Sho Madjozi got a response which has translated in many South Africans and other music lovers across Africa loving and patronizing his works.
Put In the Work
It is awesome to have the talent, but you will go hungry when you sleep on that skill. You will go unnoticed when you rely solely on that talent. Big labels would pass you by and corporate firms would want to partner with those that have the following, the numbers and the attention of the masses. They careless if you can display a high note than Celine Dion or Whitney Houston or rap well than KRS-One or Jay-Z.
It’s the ones who put in the work that win, the ones who are first up and last to go to sleep. The ones who choose to be out networking, looking for connect and avenues where they can be seen and heard.
AY Poyoo is out there putting in the work, releasing material almost every week and engaging a certain cult following. Within a year plus, he’s clocked over 20,000 followers on Twitter, close to 120,000 on Instagram, 80,000 subscribers on YouTube and commands over 200,000 reactions anytime he makes a post on Facebook.
He exerts the effort in the studio, projects a certain promotional or marketing style to sell the product and backs it up with an intriguing persona that draws attention and elicits reaction from audience.
Being Quirky Not For Everybody
To stand out from the pack, it is imperative for one to possess that extra element or factor that draws attention. So, a certain AY Poyoo has a unique branding that makes him unique and easily noticeable; a live goat in his videos, chains and others but most importantly, he exudes originality. He is original in his songs and his music videos.
Being outlandish in selling your brand can work only some. One random artiste in Ghana, after seeing how Poyoo was winning with his branding, decided to surge unto the market, going for interviews and taking photos with only in his under wear, yes, in his underwear. He and his obnoxious style of branding didn’t last a second He was cancelled as fast as he emerged. Stay original but be sensible with it!
The music industry is a rat race to success, so, it is crucial to differentiate yourself from the pack. There will be plenty of musicians of equal talent and dedication to compete with. To stand out, you must stay original, from the sound to the videos to the brand positioning.