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How to Become a Successful Artiste in the Nigerian Music Industry


Every single day, scores of young, talented Nigerians wake up with one thing on their minds – how to break into the utterly competitive yet highly glamorous and rewarding Nigerian music industry.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that many of our favourite acts on the Nigerian music scene currently such as Wizkid and Olamide have experienced massive turnarounds in their fortunes (for the better, of course) because of the success they have been able to achieve with their music.

However, for every Timaya making gigantic waves in the industry right now, there’s at least a thousand other talented, promising and hardworking young persons recording demos, attending music talent shows and waiting for their big break to happen.

Think you’ve got what it takes but yet wonder just how exactly to defy the odds and break into unarguably one of the most bustling music industries in the world? We’re pleased to furnish you with a detailed guide on how to greatly increase your chances of success and earn yourself a worthwhile music career.

Follow these steps, and you just might become the next big thing in the industry in no time:

1. Develop Your Musical Skill

Before you even consider pursuing a career in music, it would be wise to ensure that you have the goods to deliver. Regardless of what sort of music artiste you hope to become, you most likely would need to have significant skill in singing and songwriting.

Being told by a couple of friends or family members that you have a good voice is never enough reason to want to jump right into the industry, neither is the fact that you enjoy singing along with your favourite artistes in the shower.

If you’re convinced that you’ve got something to offer, then your duty would first be to hone what you have and make it marketable. This would involve dedicating some time to study more about music, and making practice sessions regular and deliberate.

A great way to go about this would be to look up as much information as you need on the internet, watch relevant tutorials on YouTube, and listen critically to your favourite artistes not to just to enjoy their music, but to figure out how much of what they do on their best efforts you’re capable of.

You might also want to consider joining a local choir to sharpen your skills.

2. Find Your Style

Even though virtually everyone who has some musical ability these days might be considering the prospects of a career in the Nigerian music industry, they don’t all want to be the exact same type of recording artiste.

So while some might want to be the next big thing in Hip-hop and idolize the likes of M.I and Ycee, others might resonate more with the vocal prowess of Waje and Darey, or the departure from the norm that Simi and Adekunle Gold represent.

As different as Falz, Phyno, Bez, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Mr Eazi and Banky W are from one another, and despite the obvious differences in their musical styles, each of these artistes have found their own niches in the industry and are definitely some of the more successful acts at the moment.

In fact, some of the artistes in the industry who stand out from their contemporaries so easily do so because of their unique styles.

Figuring out what style of music you want to do is therefore a necessary step in preparing yourself for a successful music career. Do you want to rap, or sing, or maybe do a little bit of both? Are your musical strengths and interests better suited for Pop, Reggae, R&B, Soul, Afrobeat, or some other Afro-fusion genre that you aren’t fully able to describe yet?

As important as it is to ensure that you are capable of creating music that the Nigerian audience can resonate with and enjoy (which is basically commercial music that Nigerians can dance the away their sorrows to) bear it in mind that the likes of Asa, Cobhams Asuquo, and even Johnny Drille have only come as far as they have because they have found a way to stay true to their craft.

3. Have a Source of Income

From whichever angle you choose to look at the things, actively pursuing a career in music today will not only require significant amount of time and effort, it will also cost you some money.

Talent and confidence will no doubt go a long way to set you apart from the many other people who are looking for a major break as yourself, but – more often than not – talent and confidence won’t provide you with the funds you need to pay for studio sessions.

Data subscription for the purpose of looking up relevant video tutorials, purchase of necessary recording software, and even transportation to auditions and gigs all require one thing in common – money.

So whether you need to get a job to foot your bills or you’d rather find a sponsor who’s capable of providing you with the finances you require (which isn’t exactly the more feasible option), you need to have a source of income.

4. Record! Record!! Record!!!

It’s one thing to know you have the goods to the deliver, but it’s an entirely different ball game to let others know that you’ve got what you’ve got, and that’s why it’s necessary to start putting your music out as soon as you’ve got something to offer.

A great way to start your career as a recording artist would be to garner significant experience recording music yourself with relatively cheap software such as Ableton, GarageBand and Fruity Loops.

With time and experience, you could decide to take things up a notch by investing in more complex (and consequently more expensive) recording software such as ProTools and Logic to make your recordings sound more professional.

But what exactly should you record? Bearing in mind that record labels don’t sign artistes because they hope they’ll record smash hits someday, but because they are already recording great music, you want to create a demo of one or two of your very best efforts that you can always give anyone who wants to listen to your work.

We also recommend that – just like Banky W and Johnny Drille who got their big breaks by doing covers – you record creative, brilliant versions of some of the hottest songs around to increase your chances of getting noticed.

And that brings us to our final number on this editorial.

5. Get Noticed

Arguably the most important part of the entire process of breaking into the Nigerian music industry would be ensuring that people get to see what you’ve got. How do you make this happen?

Apart from sharing your music on music sharing platforms such as SoundCloud, you could go a step further by creating a YouTube channel or Instagram page where you upload your best covers of some popular songs.

If you believe you’re talented enough, you should audition for one of the many music talent television shows such as The Voice Nigeria or Project Fame West Africa. Just like Iyanya, Praiz, Niniola, Chidinma, Mercy Chinwo and Immaculate Dache, merely participating on such shows might just provide you all the exposure that your music career needs to take off.

If you don’t feel ready for such level of revelation just yet, while you work on honing your craft, you should introduce yourself to as many people in the industry as you get the chance to interact with.

If you’re fortunate to be in a city like Lagos, find coffee shops and bars that offer open-mic nights and show off what you’ve got. If you’re already recognized by a couple of influential people, seek out opportunities to open for some of the bigger names in the industry who might have concerts around you.

Whatever you do, and however you do it, just make sure people know who you are and what you’re capable of.

There’s no guarantee that adhering to the above steps will make you tomorrow’s Davido, but you’ll definitely be astronomically increasing the chances of such a breakthrough occurring if you do.

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