By Joy Ehonwa
Even for the casual observer of the music industry, there are certain questions that come to mind over and over again. Do you ever wonder how mediocre music gets massive airplay, while some artistes who are really good never get their songs heard? Why do some artistes “blow” while others who are equally talented never make it big? Why isn’t Skales as successful as Wizkid even when there’s no obvious difference between their songs? Why does it seem like we have only a few genres of music here?
This episode of Nasco Moments with Joy Bewaji brings enlightenment, as award-winning rapper Mtrill Teria, who is also a lyricist and an entertainment entrepreneur, debunks some myths while confirming what we’ve always suspected:
- Yes, there is a certain formula to music acceptance. People will accept an artist how he’s marketed. The art is just one part of it; the marketing is the second aspect. It’s 50-50. Without marketing it’s really difficult to impress on the audience what you want them to get.
- Yes, some artistes are held down due to lack of big PR. This is because of the way the industry is set up. There is no structure so it’s about who can get the most attention. That’s why some new artistes who are talented don’t get enough recognition no matter how good they are. Promotion plays a major part, and a lack of funds hinders the spread of good music.
- No, the raunchy songs are never going away. There is a market for them; it just isn’t fair that everyone else has to listen to them too because for now there’s nothing else. Worse still, you hate the song at first and then, thanks to big money and big PR, you are bombarded with it and after hearing it countless times, it grows on you.
- Yes, we can still call Etcetera a musician. Even though he has moved from singing to writing articles slamming musicians, he is still an artiste. We must realize that most creatives have several talents: in his case, we just got introduced to the music first. He does have deep issues with the industry, and appears to have burnt many of his bridges there,having found a platform to vent, but only he can say what his true grouse is.
- Yes, fate has a part to play when it comes to music careers. That is why one artiste succeeds over another even when they’re in the same genre. Jason Derulo is successful in his own right but not as successful as Chris Brown; sometimes an artiste is just destined for a particular path.
- No, the music industry is not thriving as much as it appears to. The new financial muscle and influence that some artistes like Ice Prince, P-Square and Wizkid have, thanks to endorsements and international collaborations, do not translate to general industry growth. These guys built up their careers on their own, so now it all goes into their pockets because they don’t feel like they owe anybody. Less than 1% of the industry is successful; the rest are still suffering.
- Yes, what Nigerians want from music right now is diversity! As a music entrepreneur and an artiste, Mtrill knows that music is very diverse and people feel like listening to different things at different times. Unfortunately, in Nigeria we don’t have that variety. We basically have one genre being shoved down our throats and we have no choice in the matter. Boy, do we need that variety!
- Yes, music is contributing to the debauchery in society. “Music is spiritual,” Mtrill says. “You listen to a song and it transports you somewhere.” The consequence is that without control, music as a big part of pop culture is a gateway to a lot of vices because of the power of words and imagery.
- No, music is not entirely to blame for children being prematurely exposed to adult content. It is bothersome to see children at birthday parties dancing provocatively to raunchy songs, but it’s not the music industry’s fault per se. Parents should take responsibility for protecting children from lewd lyrics and music. Parental control- which we had when we were growing up- is still important. Parents should choose DJs carefully, and pay attention to lyrics.
- No, we have not yet maximized rap in Nigeria. Rap is very cerebral, and our general literacy level is a hindrance. In spite of this, our rappers have done very well. In a pop dominated industry, rappers, from Modenine, Naeto-C and Ice Prince, to Olamide, Phyno and MI, have done quite well.
The need for more creativity and diversity in our music industry cannot be over-emphasised, but it’s up to us listeners to support our artistes if we want them to grow.
Of course the episode wouldn’t be complete without trivia time: Name 5 brands under the Nasco range and you can be the winner of a NASCO goodie bag. Simply send your answer to 08033286604 or tweet it using the hashtag #NascoMoments