Tending to all areas of your music career may make the difference between a one hit wonder and longevity in this business.
These days Kiss Daniel, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Patoranking are stars. They headline shows, make money from various streams, have fans who attack them with love from multiple channels and also give them personal reasons to go on.
But for every Patoranking right now, we have had near-misses, plenty of stars who almost made it, but failed to ultimately stay in the sun. Many Nigerians will be quick to call them one-hit wonders, which on a level is correct, but that will be simplistic and without substance. The root cause of their problems, or what made them fail to consolidate their successes right and thrive for the long-term is their lack of artiste development.
Artiste development is what comes before, and after the hit song. It is the one ingredient of music success that sets you up for the long haul and transcends the successes originating from recording music, down to the fundamentals of the business, and legal aspects.
Let’s explore the question, “What is artist development”?
A record label A&R rep once “discovered” fresh new faces in clubs, bars or word of mouth and would then support them, cultivate their creativeness, build up their fan base, and guide their direction with the intent of turning them into superstars. All of these would as expected be done with the sole aim of selling those CDs and music. Gradually, many labels moved more into product development, which meant they are focused more on the immediacy of sales of the latest album and single released, and not bringing the artist up to that point. And more often than not, naive artists were at the labels’ mercy.
In this Internet age, it is more the artist themselves that must build the quality sound that is ready as a commercially viable product. On top of that, they need to have an already established fan base, basic music business skills, perhaps even the early music sales of a well-produced record. Labels are looking for pre-packaged, very talented musicians that are already showing their value.
A music career is a charted path to follow. Artist development involves all the issues surrounding and arising from that charted path, and crosses into knowledge of product development – the ultimate sale of the music.
Artist development in the music industry has evolved over time, leaving most of the early progress to the artist themselves. For the most part, the days are gone when a record label developed up and coming talent. The question continuously arises for those young artists about where to begin. With the advent of the Internet, the possibilities are mind boggling.
Many artists simply want a record deal, thinking that is all they need to succeed for career in music. Most don’t have a clue what it takes to get that deal, let alone maintain that career. Artist development is a huge area overlooked by far too many artists in Nigeria.
Artiste and product development include the following:
Exceptional vocals, musicianship and/or songwriting skills
Continued education and enhancement of musical skills
Image creation and maintenance
*Plan of action, goal setting
*Exceptional promotion materials, including photographs, press releases and artwork
Business management skills
Marketing, publicity, and promotion knowledge, online and offline
Basic knowledge of recording, producing, engineering, and mastering
Basic knowledge of manufacturing, distribution, and sales online, brick and mortar and air-play
Good choices in members, staff and advisors
Physical and mental preparedness
Basic knowledge of finances, accounting
Law and legal issues: publishing, copyrighting, trademarks, and an attorney
Alternative career options – everyone needs to have other options
Tending to all areas of your music career may make the difference between a one hit wonder and longevity in this business. The music business, again, is a business. Businesses need to make money. Take the time to find out all you can about each of these steps in your journey.
That being said, an up and coming artist must begin somewhere…and if a career in the music business is the goal, then any naiveté must be addressed immediately! Knowledge is power. Power gives you leverage. And who knows…that entrepreneurial artist may just find they don’t need that particular record deal after all.