Music is the most popular form of entertainment, so there is no wonder the Nigerian music industry is a very competitive field. Several influential and globally recognized artists have come from Nigerian music.
To be successful as a music artiste, you have to constantly up your game and be creative. Whether as an aspiring artist or a seasoned musician, there are some essential tips you need to know that will enable you to thrive, be relevant, and sustain a lasting career.
I reveal vital information that will make your journey in the music industry much more rewarding and commercially successful than ever.
Who is Considered a Successful Artiste in the Music Industry?
A successful artiste in the music industry is someone who has consistently delivered quality music while their career continues to grow to greater heights.
You will agree with me that it’s not everyone who started out successfully in the music industry that is still relevant. Some made waves with one hit song or an album and just disappeared into thin air, while some are struggling to get back to their former graces. Having talent and skill alone cannot guarantee success in the Nigerian music industry. Other factors relevant to success must be considered. You need to use your skills to make music that people will love. With the fleeting nature of trends, you have to have a good sound that is adaptable, in tune with the trends, and continues to be in the faces of your fans by releasing new songs to entertain them. Let us help you get into that thriving percentage with these tips and tricks.
6 Tips and Tricks for Success and Longevity in the Nigerian Music Industry
1. Build a Reputable Brand
As a music artiste, you are no longer an individual. You have become a business trying to sell a product, in this case, music, to your audience. Your music career should extend beyond the songs you create. Branding has to do with your image, it is how you want to be seen, known, and perceived by your fans. Pay attention to your appearance, and define your persona (the public image of your personality) and your message.
Ask yourself how you want your fans to appraise you when they check your page out. Is your profile picture professional enough, or are you just using any random picture available or an avatar? (This is a huge turn-off, by the way). What is your brand color, logo, and message? Do they align with your music personality? Letting your brand message out through well-curated, unique storytelling will draw your fans in because there is something consistent and noticeable about you and your music.
2. Define your Unique Sound and Master it
With the amount of music churned out on a daily basis in the Nigerian music industry, you will agree with me that the industry is a very competitive one. To get your sound etched in the sands of time, you have to be unique and a lot more creative. Come up with musical content that has not been heard before, the type of sound that resonates with your audience and is uniquely yours. Also, make sure your sound corresponds with the kind of music genres that sell in Nigeria because, at the end of the day, your music has to be heard and enjoyed by your fans, who are going to get you the fame and fortune you are looking for.
You can be unique in your sound by infusing your personal experiences and culture through storytelling. Take them on a journey to unveil your personality and heritage through Afrobeat, you could also borrow beats and other cultures from parts of the world and incorporate them in your music, like the amapiano music from South Africa. The likes of Omay Lay, Flavour Nabania, Adekunle Gold, Falz, Tuface Idibia, Phyno, and Patoranking all have distinctive sounds and are doing well in the industry.
3. Choose and Know Your Genre
Once you know your unique sound and master it, you can now apply your sound to a genre of choice. Discover your preferred music style, which should be in line with your talent and skill set, whether rap, gospel, highlife, fuji, R&B, Afrobeat, Hip-hop, etc. Don’t attempt to become a jack of all trades by carrying three or more genres in your music, especially when you are just starting out. This is a No-No! because it will prevent you from concentrating on the unique sound and genre you have carved out for yourself, and your fans will be left confused about your genre of choice. Let your fans know you for a particular genre because consistency sells, and then, as you become successful and consistent, you can alternate between other genres. In the industry today, the likes of Johnny Drille, Simi, Chike, Banky W, and Praiz are all known for R&B, M. I Abaga, Vector, Blaqbonez, Reminisce, etc., are known for rap. Stick to a genre that you are well-versed in. You can hop and experiment. But only as long as you make great content.
4. Have an Alternative Source of Income
Music as a business is very capital-intensive. This is where most artistes get it wrong because they don’t have a financial plan before delving into music. To be rated as a successful artiste in the music industry, you need to invest in your music before it starts generating enough funds to support itself. It is a career, after all. You will invest money in recording music, creating album/music covers, promotions, music banners/designs, studio sessions, internet service, transportation, feeding, hiring a good music manager, etc. It is unwise to delve into music without any backup plan that can accommodate and compensate for any losses incurred in your drive to become a successful musical artiste. It is usually wise to get something doing that will generate some funds for you, save up some money that will come in handy and you won’t end up like Idowu, whom the whole neighborhood had to crowdfund for to help him in his pursuit of a successful career.
5. Build a solid Team of Music Professionals
As an artiste aspiring to be successful in the industry, you need to learn from those who have made it big before you. Learn the ropes from them and how they were able to succeed and scale through. What better way than to get a team of music professionals who will help you navigate the Nigerian music industry and strategically make decisions that will help advance your career.
Your team of Professionals should consist of a Manager, a Publicist, a Booking agent, and a Lawyer. Having a manager is quite important as they are the intermediary between you and the public and help you make informed business decisions. They handle your day-to-day music activities, negotiating deals, and generally making sure you are organized. Your publicist is responsible for promoting your music by making sure it gets in the faces of the right people using the right channels. A booking agent meets with promoters to secure gigs for you. They also negotiate performance contracts, manage performance schedules, make phone calls to venue managers, gigs, festivals, and a host of other duties.
Finally, your lawyer does all the legal framework that protects your interest in the music industry, including drafting recording deals, licensing agreements, publishing agreements, protecting your intellectual property, and helping you negotiate properly to avoid ‘‘stories that touch’’. Your lawyer will also review and vet documents before you can sign them. This might seem a little overwhelming, especially for the upcoming artistes who are new to the industry and feel it might take some time to put a team of professionals together. Do not let that worry you. As you gradually build momentum in the industry, you will find out that more people will want to work with you.
6. You Need A Strong On-Line Presence
Yes, you may have hired a team of professionals for your music business, and now you have to be present. Having a strong online presence helps to maximize your potential in the music industry. The digital space has made it easy for tons of upcoming musicians and very successful ones to promote their music, connect with their fans, and collaborate with other artists from around the world. Know how to “carry your market on your head” with these moves:
Create social media accounts on platforms
Such as Twitter/X, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Thread. Make sure you use very good professional pictures. Showcase yourself and what you are about. Make sure to follow the big leagues in the industry to stay abreast of what they are doing. I cannot reiterate this enough. Showcase your talent to the world. Post up-to-date recent information about you on your pages regularly using pictures and videos. Trust me, they are watching. Mayorkun got signed by 30BG boss, Davido after he did a cover of Davido’s “The Money” on Twitter. Rema was also discovered on Instagram while doing a freestyle to D’prince’s song “Gucci Gang” and was signed by Don Jazzy into Mavin Records.
Get yourself a website
As a music artiste, owning a website makes you look professional and credible. You can create and control the content of your site. Make sure you put the relevant information about you and your music on your site. Let your site embody your sound and speak to your audience. Social media platforms are very good to own. But a website is more authoritative, permanent and not subjected to any kind of changes in algorithm or buy-outs. Those not on social media can reach out to you on your website and get the same experience. Here is a fantastic artist website to give you an idea.
Use YouTube and other streaming platforms to distribute your music worldwide
YouTube is a free and major platform that has over 2 billion subscribers worldwide. It allows you to showcase, share, and market your music videos with friends as long as you have a Gmail account. You can take advantage of other streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Audiomack, Soundcloud, Deezer, etc. Take advantage of these platforms to give your music a wider reach. You can also earn from these streaming platforms.
See our article on how much you can earn from streaming.
In everything you do, make sure that your sound is relatable to your listener. Let your content be good enough to break through the thoughts of your audience. I bet that once your music is good and the right people hear it, you will be on your way to joining the big boys and stardom.
Becoming successful and thriving in the music industry is not a walk in the park. You need to be resourceful, dedicated, focused, hardworking, and consistent. Sell yourself to family, friends, and other artistes consistently. Stay on the course, be loyal, be positive, and Famz as many people as possible (It is very necessary) to achieve your desired goals.