I have been in music business for 2 years now. I majorly promote, manage and blog about music industry. It therefore means am in contact with a number of musicians, mostly through social media. Its been a rough time withstanding some habits by up and coming musicians that, if not well shunned, will continue to doom our industry’s prospects. I sampled a few.
1. Fame above Success- ‘Celeb Mentality’
An artist emails me, telling me he wants someone who would promote him/her to get bookings/shows. On asking about their profile, I find out they have a song or two that are poorly written and mastered! And they go on social media acting like a celebrity! You want a clothing line when no one is willing to buy your song in the first place? I advice guys to get a good following first and the best way how is to be consistent with good music. Even 100 core fans is okay; they will turn up to your shows and buy merchandise. One must remember that, with digital disruption, anyone can be an entertainer and you must fight for that shrinking space.
2. Lack of Professionalism
It is annoying when someone gets my number on Twitter- which I intend them to get, by the way- and instead of calling, texts me “vipi mzito. mimi ni msanii mnoma” and expects you to get back to them and start inquiring more about their content. For a blogger, promoter, A&R or Producer who handles tens of such emails/texts a day, you can bet such a poor introduction will be ignored. Some even use “xaxa” kind of texts. Really? Be professional. Use plain English or Swahili because you don’t know who is behind the computer. Be brief and concisely to the point. Also, ensure you plan well before mailing the industry professional whose support/services you require so that you include all information in a single submission.
3. Quick Money Mentality
A hard truth, not just in music but generally in life, never seek quick success. Do not go into the music industry and think you will be the next pop star in two years. Invest more in quality content and money will follow. Remember corporates only endorse those with a huge following. Build it first and you will get on billboards later. You can now sponsor videos to get more views, but if the music is whack, then it wont go viral.
4. Less Creative and Copycat Musicians
We are not promoting creative content development as a society. A musician shared a song with me and added “Naija type” as a parenthesis, thinking it would be more convincing. If fact, it reduces your value as a creative.
5. Poor Branding or too much PR.
Branding is very important so that you differentiate yourself from competition. In music it is important to leave a good impression on the to-be-fan. Its now a rule that you should create a popping cover art to create anticipation for a single, album or EP. Go for a unique blend of colors and use it consistently in your social media profile cover, website and and promos. You could also have a logo that becomes your (un)registered trademark. However too much PR may be bad. Most will like you for being real. Remember there’s great value of music that is influencing people’s lives.
6. No Desire for Knowledge
It is a cliche to hear that the best artist started in a church choir. But there is so much value in that. You become molded as a musician. You get support from composers and voice coaches, especially for singers. If you didn’t grow up in a music background, go online and study more about music industry to avoid being taken advantage of.
7. Poor Live Performances
One would repetitively attend your live music performances if you provide a valuable experience. Its not about you..its about them. You could even give freebies like tee-shirts and caps. Lip-synced performances will lose you fans quick! Do you know the difference between fans and consumers of your music? A fan will be on your Facebook page waiting for you to release your next video and share it…a consumer will wait for you to announce sale of your album or caps. Try to convert a good number of fans into consumers.
Now you have it. Remember to consider such pieces of advice, and you may never regret venturing into this art.