Everyone with the talent of doing music tries to take advantage and make a career out of it. Unlike Europe where young musicians learn to play various musical instruments to back their vocal skills, young musicians in Ghana just hit the recording studio to tell us what they have to offer.
The situation is very worse in the Gospel music industry where every member of a choir wants to release an album with the hope of making money from its launching.
In Liberia, over 200 songs are released weekly by underground musicians. The number of releases in Ghana have reduced significantly in the past few years as most of these underground musicians have given up.
From my little experience in music, this is what I want the underground musicians to know and understand.
No one downloads your song
Ask yourself when was last you played or downloaded a song of someone you don’t know or have never heard of? Statistics available to owners of music download websites show that underground musicians receive almost no downloads. The few downloads come from Family and friends of the musician. Sometimes website owners inflate the number of downloads to deceive the public. You can contact them to know the exact number of downloads your song has received.
Paying money could be a waste
This is a point I’m struggling to write as I’m also paid by underground artistes to promote their works. Paying an online promoter to Promote your song is something underground musicians should avoid unless it’s part of a plan. No matter the amount of words promoters use to promote you on the internet, internet users see them as doing their job and do not worry to click on your links if you are not known. Keep that money to yourself, no one will listen to the promoter.
If you pay a website to upload your song, no that you are only finding a place to store your song or creating an online presence. It creates no impact. No one downloads music from a musician he doesn’t know or haven’t heard of.
NB: Promoters are expected to argue this claim.
Hold on! Get a plan
Underground musicians of today release more songs in a year than Shatta Wale who do over 100 songs annually. Know that you are wasting your works that are potential hits. You need to have a plan for each release. The plan should be influenced by the fans available to you, budget and how far you want a song to go.
If you don’t set a plan and execute it, a-list artistes would always redo your songs for a hit while you keep struggling down there.
Why online stores?
The desire for underground artistes to make money to support their talent pushes them to send their songs to online music stores. Who is going to buy them? You are charged to submit your songs to the stores and payment of those charges become the only money exchanged between the musician and the aggregators. Save that money !
Build your fan base
Your music isn’t downloaded so how do you get people to love it? You have to find means to force your music on influential people and when they become your fans, their followers are likely to join in. Instead of posting your song on music download sites and just spamming WhatsApp groups and social media platforms, contact these influential people, or even non-influential people privately. Tell them you have a new song that you want them to review. Let them know that their comments are very important as it will help you know which direction you are heading and what corrections to make.
Take note that getting someone to listen to the song is the main problem for underground artistes. So this is a perfect strategy to have people listen because they have to leave a comment. When they listen and happen to fall in love with the song, some people may want to associate themselves with your brand or become a fan who will always look out for your songs. Some may not be able to keep the excitement but go further to share on social media.
Out of sight, out of mind!
If you see Shatta Wale in the news always, he’s telling you that he’s still around. When TV and Radio run his news, they definitely have to play his songs in the background.
If you are an underground artiste and keep making news, people will start looking for some of your works. Comment on social issues, take up worthy causes and if the media is ignoring you, draw their attention.
If comments from social media users make headlines, then a comment from an underground musician can equally do.
When well-planned, publicity stunts also do work very well.
Take advantage of trending issues
Epixode just won the heart of the media and music lovers with his latest release on Ebony Tribute Concert Money saga.
If you are underground artiste and suffering to be heard, take advantage of trending issues and everyone would love to listen what you did on it. Remember to follow it with something better, else that’s the end.
It’s not always about money
It’s very funny that DJs prefer to play for free than being paid to play. Victor AD’s ‘Weitin we gain’ was making waves in Ghana and the Nigerian musician was on the verge to have a massive hit in the country, probably for free. Victor AD is in Ghana now and all the DJs would expect to be paid now. Now that Money is coming in, there won’t be any more free plays. They will play according to the monies they would be paid. He should have remained in Nigeria to enjoy the free promo.
So it’s not always about money. Zylofon Media has all the money. So don’t quote money as an excuse. Do good music and when it hits people, there’s nothing they can do. Victor AD’s song is a typical example of good music.
We can hate Shatta Wale for anything but not his highlife music. You will be insulting him and still buy it. Do good music!
know where and when to invest
If you ever plan investing money in your music, know where and when to. It hurts me to write on this because it’s going to affect my income badly as I charge musicians to upload their works.
Paying a website to upload your song should be the last thing to do. A website can have 10 million followers but not even one of the followers will download your song if you are not known, or song isn’t about a trending issue, or probably a diss song.
Direct your investments at where people would be forced to listen to your music. Where people will have no choice than to listen. Radio, TV, Club, drinking bars and even chop bars are the best places to spend on your music if you really want to invest. When one falls for song, he can follow up on the internet and get it on YouTube, Soundcloud and others. And when the song gradually becomes a hit, the music download websites will rather post them for free.
There was no where I was going to like Obibini and rank him as one of the best rappers if I wasn’t forced to watch him on TV.
I’m Akesse Sanza and I wish you all the best! Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with questions!