Music business is as serious as oil and gas business and the requisite business acumen and ethics should be attached to it. In Ghana, it is unfortunate that just a few musicians are making big career moves in terms of revenue generation. The many others are all floundering with some selling their own CDs in vans and others begging to perform at events for peanuts. With the right attitude and approach, the ordinary musician stands a good chance of making the best out of his/her music career. Based on my experience in the industry, a little research and my interactions with industry aficionados, I present 5 of the many steps that will ensure that the musician is empowered and emboldened to stay relevant and successful in his/her music career.
STEP 1: CREATE A BUZZ RECORD.
There’s no denying the fact that, our music has lost its lyrical savvy and dexterity. Most of the Top 10 hit songs produced in 2012 were out of whack and extremely nonsensical but these were the same songs that the masses loved, they jammed to them with incessantly and made the records and their purveyors reap dividends with high-paying gigs. In this era, nobody seems to care about thought-provoking and edifying lyrics anymore. The right beat, the right hook and the right song can change a career. Whether you are a new artiste like Chris Waddle, Double or D2 seeking buzz or an established artiste like VIP or Kwaw Kesse, the buzz record is your ticket to a helluva career season. Yes, it is pathetic that songs like Keche’s ‘Aluguitugui’, EL’s ‘Kaalu’, and ‘Obuumo’, Double’s ‘S3k3’ and others can get maximum airplay and patronage over songs like Okyeame Kwame’s‘Sika’ but who do you blame? The system has changed, so whether you put out a good lyrical content over a quality production or put two ridiculous words together over a strong production, all you need is that buzz record, the key that will opens the doors of performances and endorsement deals.
STEP 2: GET GOOD MANAGEMENT
An artiste with poor management is an athlete without a coach – plenty of talent but no strategy. Hiring the right people to oversee your career logistics can make the difference between being a perennial under-achiever and being crowned the best. With astute business partners in your team, the artiste can focus on perfecting his punch lines instead of jostling for radio play. Normally, management handles everything from setting up marketing plans to helping select album tracks to picking up dry cleaning so the artiste must make sure he/she has a trustworthy crew. Some examples being Sarkodie and Doctor Duncan, Kwaw Kesse and Fenec Okyere and Castro and Amess. A good manager should understand their artiste’s brand and must do his best to help the artiste develop the brand and not just getting his cut. For an artiste to make it in 2013, he/she must hire the services of a manager, somebody with the wherewithal to balloon the career of the artiste.
STEP 3: NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT THAT MAKES SENSE TO YOU
Ghanaian artiste have been known to sign very bad deals, deals that takes away their freedom of artistic expression, deals that leaves them giving more than they get and deals that leaves them remorseful after they append their signatures. This year, whether you are signing a performance deal, endorsement deal, a television or radio advert deal – you should know what exactly you are signing. If you are signing a performance deal, know the kind of show you are signing for, get information on the organizers, know the kind of logistics that will be used for the show to check if they will be suitable and enhance your performance and most importantly, know your worth so you can sign for good money. Don’t go sign and then come complaining that the money was not enough, or the sound used was bad and didn’t help your performance and blah blah. If you are signing an endorsement deal, do not let the money involved cloud your sense of judgment. Read every detail in the contract including full-stops and commas to check it will have any adverse effect on any aspect of your career.
STEP 4: EMBRACE THE POWER OF THE INTERNET
This should be a given but lots of artistes still don’t get it. The internet is your friend; instead of whining about leaks and pirated downloads; consider the web as a tool for reaching your audience and controlling your exposure. In Ghana, most of our artistes do not have personal social networking sites and the few in existence are ineffectual. A personal social networking site will not only give you the opportunity to engage your fans but also to project your personality. Get hooked to facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, instagram and blogging and make it work. Whether you need to rant, address a beef, announce breaking news, promote projects or give unnecessary shout-outs, the web is your place to go.
STEP 5: LEARN TO PUT UP A GOOD SHOW
It is crucial for any artiste to move the crowd whenever he/she gets the opportunity to mount the stage. Performances or gigs have become so profitable for the artiste so much so that, the artiste should not miss the chance to impress. Performance fees keep artistes eating at a time when album sales are at an all-time low, royalties are non-existent and endorsement monies don’t come every Sunday. With artistes charging from GHC5, 000 to GHC15, 000 as performance fee, it is an ultimate sin for any artiste to get such amount and come mess up on stage. Learn how to be vibrant, agile and a toast of the audience anytime you perform. Engage the crowd, take breaks and stall your show but not excessively. The funny thing is, event organizers are observant, they monitor other shows aside theirs and so if you mess up on a Charterhouse platform, you should know that Empire Entertainment is watching.