Breaking barriers to stardom amid challenges in music industry

“There’s no well-defined support structure for the average upcoming artiste and excellent promotion process can’t be executed by minimal budget which makes the upcoming artiste unable to cater for these needs,’’

Breaking barriers to stardom amid challenges in music industryBy Folasade Adeniran

Debutante musicians believe that although many aspiring musicians are putting a lot of effort into making a name in the music scene, there are challenges ranging from payola, copyright infringement, and privacy.

Lack of funding and infrastructure, talent development and grooming, limited royalty and distribution systems are their major headache, according to them.

In spite of lack of funding, payola — the illegal practice of paying a commercial radio station to play a song without the station disclosing the payment – has had a serious drag on many talents.

Nigerian artistes gross N25bn in 2023 from streaming – Spotify

Music enthusiasts observe that Nigeria is home to a thriving and diverse music industry that has given birth to some of the most significant musicians in Africa.

They note that Nigerian music has a rich cultural legacy that has enthralled both domestic and foreign listeners, ranging from Afrobeat to highlife.

“Music industry possesses both the capacity to support millions of budding artistes and generate considerable revenue for the economy, but the industry is doing less,’’ they observe.

However, some artistes state some other challenges they face in music industry, apart from these.

For instance, Ebuka Hillary, a gospel minister popularly known as EbukaSongs, with international record label, Spotlite Nation, says that one of the things to be worked on in the industry, particularly the gospel industry, is the availability of genuine love for upcoming artistes.

“When they see an artiste rising, it is time for everybody to put themselves together, put force together, and help that one to stand, instead of criticising and saying all sorts of things about the young ones who are still coming up,’’ he notes.

Another music artiste, Lillian Iheonunekwu, by the stage name, Lilcassie, highlights some of the challenges she faced while advancing her musical career.

“Not having to know someone who knows someone; not having the right contact is a problem. Promotion as an independent artiste is draining,’’ she observes.

Other up-and-coming artistes also express their challenges in trying to bloom in the music industry.

Omotola Omodanisi says: “The challenge of finance is sometimes overwhelming and the inconsistent availability of excellent team players is daunting.

“There’s no well-defined support structure for the average upcoming artiste and excellent promotion process can’t be executed by minimal budget which makes the upcoming artiste unable to cater for these needs,’’

A budding hip-hop artiste, Sola Chinedu, says it is difficult to get brands and label executives to discover artistes that are good at music creation.

“I currently use streaming platforms to promote my music hoping for the best. Even the record labels that might finally get an upcoming artiste turn them into slaves,’’ she alleges.

Chinedu said he has been tempted to give up so many times due to the strain, fear and disappointments but the love of music continues to push him.

Arinze Nnamdi says his journey hasn’t been easy and that as an independent artiste, “you have to do basically everything by yourself.

“We do not have a support system; you are the only one carrying out your dreams yourself. It hasn’t been easy but definitely I keep on pushing, till I definitely get there.

“One of the basic challenges is funds, you don’t have a record label, you are doing everything yourself, nobody is supporting you.

“So, if you do not have sponsors, it’s not going to be easy for you because you have to bring out money for this and that. It’s challenging and also getting people to listen to you.

“Most people do not want to listen to your track, they underestimate upcoming artistes, they prefer to listen when you finally blow.

“You are lucky, if you are from a rich background and you are able to fund yourself, but what of those from poor background?

“If there are people that could help fund musical artistes, that will be helpful because right now, I don’t think the music industry is favourable to upcoming artistes,’’ he observes.

Sharing similar sentiments, Ifechukwu Raymond also known as Raymid, an up-and-coming singer and rapper, says nobody is ready to support or even listen to budding artistes.

“That’s why young artistes tend to give up when their efforts are in vain. It’s only grace and connection that work sometimes for a person,’’ he says.

The artiste says that apart from support from music professionals and experts, people do not listen to up-and-coming artistes.

“It’s just families and friends that listen to you and that cannot be your audience for a long time. So, the struggle to get people to listen to you is tasking.

“That is why some upcoming artistes think that hiring video vixens and displaying ostentatious lifestyles will draw audiences but does it work all the time?”

Raymond also pleaded with talent hunts and organisers of music competitions to be fair in their judgment.

“Give it to those who deserve it. There’s no need to play politics. Support true talent and throw them into the limelight,’’ he pleaded.

Esther Okechukwu has had an unfortunate share in trying to survive in the musical industry as she claims that: “My friend introduced me to a producer and I showed him my musical composition, hoping that he could bring it to life. After seven days of working with him, I was unable to reach the producer.

“I later found out that another artiste had used my song, only that some alterations were made. It was painful.’’

Okechukwu also said that lack of knowledge and guidance for budding artistes have been eliminating talents from the industry.

But the Chairman of Santabella Group and the parent company of Santabella Music Empire Ltd., Oladipupo Lawal, says international companies have a role to play in the gradual obscurity of artistes on the national and international scene.

He says concerns over the future of local artistes have been raised by the aggressiveness and dominance of international enterprises.

“One e-mail address serving the whole continent of Africa overloads the system, giving international companies an unfair advantage, and only artistes with connections to these corporations receive the much-needed editorial support, leaving others in obscurity.

“This is the reality of the role of streaming platforms such as Apple Music, which purport to provide editorial support to artistes.

“Significant negative effects result from this global invasion, including the decline in popularity of many local music icons and the general public lack of exposure to their works.

“Marketing and promotion are among the areas of the sector that are affected by this change,’’ he observes.

Lawal further states that songs that are trending on digital platforms are given priority over local content on radio stations, which used to be the main places to find new music.

Consequently, radio commercials are no longer as effective as they once were; this gives multinational corporations even more clout and denies many artistes a just opportunity to be heard,’’ he notes.

Also, the General Manager of Megaelectrics, Deji Awokoya, says for artistes to advance, they must endure and remain true to their trade.

“I wonder why young performers are chasing fame and fortune rather than honing their skill and establishing themselves in their local communities first,’’ he asks.

“Having good music is what will stand them out of the crowd; the second is creating a community, which can be accomplished by consistently putting oneself out there.

“Before leaving, they have to be well known on their streets. They ought to learn from Portable’s portrayal of the concept of being well known,’’ he suggests.

Alextino Sunday, also known as, DJ Lextino, says the music industry is very wide and continuously growing every day with a lot of challenges and a few people trying to feed on new artistes claiming to help them.

“The country alone is a huge challenge because nothing helps upcoming and independent Djs  like us in the industry and this highlights the reason why lot of talents are wasted’’ he says.

Afropop singer, Ifeanyi Ifegwu, also known as Siino, says artistes and professionals in the music industry face major hurdles.

He says many gifted people have financial difficulties when it comes to recording, producing, and promoting their work.

“The general development of the industry is hampered by the lack of well-equipped recording studios, concert venues, and trustworthy distribution methods.

“Opportunities for development and professionalisation can be obtained by promoting public and private investment, creating funds specifically for music, and enhancing infrastructure,’’ he notices.

The afropop singer adds that talent development and nurturing are essential to the music industry’s long-term viability.

“Artistes can enhance their abilities, broaden their creative vision, and negotiate the intricacies of the industry by having access to top-notch music education, mentorship programmes and talent development initiatives.

“Working together, government agencies, business leaders, and academic institutions can build a nurturing environment that develops the next wave of Nigerian musicians,’’ he says.

All in all, veteran artiste, Dare Art Alade, says it takes a community to raise a musician, insisting that: “Everybody coming together to support, give their time and helping that young artiste grow goes a long way in growing the creative industry.


News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)