Ladies and gentlemen, you are welcome to the new game in town. For better or for worse, our music “industry” is embracing a new form of art. The focus has shifted almost entirely from making music to something else. Now the transition is finally complete and the sync word here is LIE. In Nigeria today, every artist needs a “lying” platform – or three, to reach their target audience. Years back, radio used to be the dominant “platform” for breaking new artists, you may say it is still important, but the radio is certainly no longer the only game in town. It is becoming simply too limited, too expensive and too difficult to control to be the sole platform. A better and surer way to expose the artist to the public has been discovered. Now the artist with the biggest LIE has the bigger and better head start.
The Nigerian music “industry” has now brought a vast array of gifted liars. We have seen managers lying blatantly about the activities of their artistes just to be noticed. So far, it is working for them here in Nigeria. Our gullibility has made it too easy to become an artist here in Nigeria. What was your reactions when Burna Boy tweeted about his new songwriting deal with Universal Music Group? Did you notice how the blogs went gaga congratulating him? If truly Burna Boy got a deal, why didn’t Universal Music Group issue a statement to that effect? Well, strange stuff has happened.
Isn’t the Nigerian music “industry” at risk with this lying game taken to this new level? Is it no longer worth noting that the actual quality of the artist’s songs should be a predominating factor in a decision to recruit him as a songwriter? Why are we acting as if we don’t know that Burna’s songs won’t find many readily available patronisers outside the shores of Nigeria? If they do, they can only be appreciated by only a few Nigerians. Even in cases where there is a proven audience for a particular artiste’s work, it is not enough to make it a big deal to corner a deal. As a musician reading this article, would you approach Burna Boy to write you a song? Judging by what you’ve heard from him so far! If you can’t, why would a foreign company with a long list of songwriters employ him as a songwriter?
One reason why there are no record labels in Nigeria is that a lot of our music stakeholders are sentimental in their approach to the business. The guys at Universal are not jokers. They are strictly in it for the money. They don’t attach sentiments to their dealings. They know that songwriting is not actually a business. There’s no financial element attached to songwriting in itself. It is the job of the music publisher to turn the song into something that can generate income. Can Burna’s song guarantee the kind of financial returns we are talking about here? How many CDs has he sold in Nigeria as an artist? I am not talking of the free downloads of singles on blogs, but the copies of actual albums he has sold. How many people have his album in their homes? The pink and brown contract sneaked up on us on instagram could have been printed at Oluwole. Until Universal Music Group authenticates these claims, everything Burna has said could not be true. It is a shame that Nigerian journalists will never see it necessary to investigate any issue before plastering it all over their platforms. I was on set on Nigezie, shooting the Etcetera Live TV show when the producer asked if I heard about Burna Boy’s new deal with Universal Records. Right there and then, I went online and checked the authenticity of the story. The first thing I checked was if Universal Music Group issued any statement to that effect. I wasn’t surprised that the story could only be found on Nigerian websites. The websites of Universal in America, South Africa and other countries had nothing suggesting they have anything with Burna Boy. Their facebook pages said nothing too.
There is an official statement on every deal they have made. It is the norm with every recording company in the world. You employ a songwriter who is like a talent magnet; a record maker.
Someone who brings forth the talent in the singer. Someone whose role is to write songs that define the artistes and give them a reason for existence and you keep that under the carpet? It doesn’t make any sense. The truth is, there’s no song of Burna that suggests he is anywhere close to being the kind of songwriter we are talking about here. This guy sounds like he doesn’t want anyone to pick out his lines.
Finally, it is very important for all those with music interest to note that in this new LIE eco-system of ours, there are three things a musician needs, and his success or failure can be predicted almost entirely on the basis of how many of these three things are in place. If you can provide a clean sweep of three out of three, like Burna Boy, you’ll likely be signing a record deal with Universal Music Group even without being able to hold your notes vocally. If you’ve got two out of three, you will probably get an offer, like some other artistes have claimed at different times. Though it might not be exactly the deal you were hoping for. Bring only one out of three and the best you can hope for is a polite invitation to come back sometime in the distant future. So here are the three things every Nigerian will pay for – the essential components to a successful “Music Career” – 1.LIE, 2.LIE and 3.LIE!