I am a frustrated Ugandan Music Lover, tasked with a responsibility that really isn’t mine. While most African artists are investing in strategies that are having them known across the continent, most Ugandan artists have left the discovery of who they are and their music (and especially beyond their country’s boarders) to the very few interested people like myself.
Here are 3 recommendations that could help Ugandan artists gain relevance beyond the Pearl of Africa’s boarders and to catch up with the rest of African music doing oh- so well:
- Make relatable music
You have probably heard that music is a universal language that does not consider language nor comprehension: as long as it is good, people will listen. IT’S A BIG LIE…..Well…Maybe not entirely but here is the thing, people have to identify with music at whatever minimal level, in order to enjoy it. Be it the song’s message, a familiar beat or a few words that they can sing along to, it has to resonate with them. Take Nigerian AfroPop for example which most artists are doing in Nigerian Pidgin. You may not speak the language nor understand the entire song, but you can at least sing along to a few of the words. Eddy Kenzo may be singing in Luganda, but has made his music relevant outside Uganda through his incorporation of dance with a hint of comedy, which as you watch his music videos, retains your interest as an audience.
- Quality lacks substitute
You have no idea how disappointing it is to listen to an amazing audio to a song, only to search for its video then have a major brain freeze and voices in your head telling you how you should start spending your time more wisely because you are getting too old for such games. This is not to say that all Ugandan videos are unappealing (trust me, I have seen some of Sasha Vybz’ work and had to confirm if indeed it was a Ugandan Production) but it is time Ugandan artists start investing in better quality music videos. As an artist, have to have a good audio with an equally good video that your audience can enjoy watching while listening.
- Bank on content
I can safely say that Uganda’s Music Industry is amongst the most vibrant in the East African Region. Unfortunately though, this vibrance is more about hype/side shows than actual work. From nudes to cheap publicity stunts by artists, there is simply no dull moment in the Ugandan Music Industry (I use “dull” loosely). So artists are making headlines, but very few are doing so based on their music. Here is the truth: people wake up to equally (or even more) exciting gossip each new day, which means temporary relevance for you as an artist if you cannot keep up with the side shows. You may therefore want to put in some actual work into your craft as an artist in order to survive the industry long enough.