The Struggle of the Underground Nigerian Musician

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For every big artist in Nigeria there are possibly a million other unknown aspiring Nigerian musicians. From the thousands of students in different universities both in Nigeria and abroad trying to either be like Kiss Daniel or Davido to the upcoming guys in different ghettos trying also to break out like Oritsefemi or Timaya. These unknown Artists are in various Nigerian States and in many countries all around the globe. They all have a minimum of a Demo record and most times are very passionate about their music believing that their music is the next big thing. These are the unsigned musicians who by themselves are also the manager of themselves by performing all the duties that a recording or distribution company would have easily done.

These artists go through a lot in the process of trying to blow. The real journey starts from making the first demo/single. Singing a song in your bathroom is free but the moment you knock on the door of a recording studio in Nigeria the prices you hear can scare the talent in you away. A local producer will charge as low as Twenty Thousand naira for a beat while a popular producer may charge anywhere 350k to 750k per instrumental/beat. This fee is excluding of Mixing, Mastering and Studio sessions.

The next struggle becomes trying to promote your music. Most artistes start by sending their music to blogs and Radio stations. Many Blogs will post your music if it is dope but many viewers will not listen or download it if the artist is not popular. The fact is nobody wants to spend their data bundle downloading music that are not mainstream. Radio stations on the other hand have bills to pay and are trying hard to keep their listeners tuned in that they will not spend their air time on an unknown musician.

If the artist makes it past the audio promotion stage he /she starts to think of shooting a music video. If an average Joe black video cost 750k then you can imagine how much a Clarence Peters will cost. If your video is of very good quality then TraceTv and Soundcity will play it but these days there are many good quality music videos so TV stations stick to the mainstream popular videos that their viewers actually want to watch. Other marketing channels exist for the upcoming artist and these include promoting your mixtape through Alaba mixtapes and performing for free at events and shows.

Most times for an artist to be taken seriously he has to release at least 3 good songs which means he /she will go through the process above about two or three times which involves a lot of spending without recuperating any money invested. This can be discouraging especially when the artist is supported by family or is investing money from other businesses into the music business. After putting in a lot of energy and finances into music, it becomes very difficult to leave music. The persistent artists start learning music production as a result of long hours spent in music studios while some of them become sound engineers to mix and master music or even apply to become radio presenters.
With the evolution of Nigerian music it has become more difficult to break in to the mainstream music industry. Underground artists sometimes need the endorsement and guidance of other more popular artistes as seen in the Olamide- Lil kesh success story or a Davido’s father to be an angel investor. These days only raw talent doesn’t cut the deal anymore, artistes need investors to foot these bills before they can become showstoppers like Wizkid or Davido. People want to go into music for different reasons either for fame or for passion but whatever the reasons are , there are big profits to be made therefore the entry requirements are becoming higher and tougher.

Ayo Alloh
Engineer / Blogger
Twitter: @Kingceiver Instagram: @dkingmaker

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