Of African artists paying for music collaborations with international stars; Diamond shares his experience

You’ve probably heard that artists pay for collaborations, especially when it’s an upcoming artist (or even one that’s trying to widen their fan base), collaborating with an already established artist. This is because of the value added to a song with the already established artist, who also brings in their wide fan base, adding exposure to the song. What an artist will be paid for a collaboration is dependent on them and how they negotiate for it, but it’s some good money for sure. Now when it’s an African artist collaborating with an international star, the figures could even run into millions. Case in point,it’s alleged that M.I Abaga paid $50, 000 to Nas, for him to deliver a verse (just a verse, not two) on his song.

 

However, during an interview with Dizzim Online, Diamond revealed that he hasn’t paid for any of his collaborations with artists from the U.S. This includes Ne-Yo, Rick Ross  (which is yet to be released officially) and Omarion, (we are also still waiting on this one to drop).

I’ve seen such big stars jumping on a track by a less known artist or even an artist that is already popular but trying to widen their fan base. I have to be real, most are not always the best of works from either of the artists. Most are mere business transactions, where an artist was paid for a collaboration and just has to deliver for the sake of avoiding a lawsuit.

I want to be real for a minute. I loved PSquare. I admired their contribution to Nigeria’s Music industry. However, I wasn’t such a fan of their collaboration with Rick Ross. Not that it was a whack song, some people loved it, but I felt that they had done better songs on their own, just like Rick Ross has as well. I might be wrong, but that’s my honest opinion.

From Diamond, I think we should learn to build our own brands for ourselves, to a point where other artists are able to appreciate our work and even want to work with us at no cost.

Collaborations should be a smart move with intention. I watched an interview on Vanessa Mdee (can’t really remember on which platform), on which she says that she does not charge for international interviews conventionally, but instead has an agreement with an artist to earn royalties for the collaboration.

I hope for a music industry that will not just have artists collaborating for the sake of being associated with big names, but because of adding value to what they already have to offer the music industry.

 

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The importance of being an educated artist according to Alikiba

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Tanzanian artist; Alikiba

According to Alikiba, the knowledge gained over the years by an artist through education is important in determining the content of their music, as revealed during a recent interview.

“As an artist, when you actively engage your mind when creating music, you can come up with better and well thought of ideas. Forget about artists who sing only because they are talented, but with nothing really other than that to offer society. Education is very important in every aspect of life, “he said.

He went ahead to add that when an artist is well informed, they are able to think more critically when coming up with music ideas, which also reflects on their audiences as they listen to their music. This audience according to Alikiba can tell the difference between an artist that actively engages their mind when coming up with content and those that do not.

I agree with Alikiba on education as an important resource for an artist. I however think being “schooled” shouldn’t necessarily be through formal training. Perhaps “informed” would be a better word to use. An artist’s creative ability is expanded when they are well informed. It could be through reading or even being exposed to different perspectives other than their own, by learning about different beliefs and cultures. That I think would help an artist that may sing about an exhausted topic such as love, but with a fresh perspective that their audience may not have necessarily been exposed to before.

Of African music artists helping each other

They may have wanted to have held Skales for ransom for being young and handsome, but definitely not for being rich. At least not during the time when he was doing the video to “Shake Body”. Just in case you live under a rock, this is the video I am talking about….

 

Through a Twitter post, Skales revealed;

This broke period was in 2014, after Skales was let go from EME records due to creative differences between the two parties (he and EME records).

It’s amazing that Skales still acknowledges what Olamide did for him, 3 years on. Very few people actually remember those that help them on their way up. But what’s even more amazing is Olamide’s going the extra mile to actually help, without having anything to gain from it. By that I mean, you would think that he would want to pay for the music video if was featured on the song.

For some weird reason, some of us fail to help others not because it’s beyond us, but because we are afraid that they will eventually beat us at our own game and end up being more successful than we are.

The world would be such a better place if we could all help each other out. But let me narrow it down even more. Imagine an African music industry that would have party players all lifting each other up. It doesn’t have to be in terms of money, it could just be sharing knowledge with someone that is just starting out, providing mentor-ship, being a link between an artist and someone else that could help them get a step closer towards their dream. But not just that, have people that do it because they can and not for the world to see and start talking about how “nice”of they person are.

I hope that in whatever way you can, you will be sunshine to someone out there today.

 

 

5 Lessons to learn from the Creme de la Creme of Kenya’s Entertainment Industry

How-to-flourish-in-the-entertainment-industry-in-Kenya-right-from-scratch
Picture source: Web

 

Last night, Kenyans were treated to one of the most insightful conversations about the entertainment industry in the country, with the Creme de la Creme of the industry. This was on KTN News‘ Bottom Line, hosted by Yusuf Ibrahim. On the panel was Dan Aceda -one of Kenya’s most respected music artists, Sauti Sol‘s manager Marek Fuchs and Laugh Industry‘s Kennedy Waudo.

I took a few notes on what I thought were meaningful lessons worth sharing, especially with music artists.

  1. Music artists need to have a clear business sense of their art in order to be able survive in the industry. Treat music like you would any other type of business you immerse yourself in.
  2. There’s a great opportunity for Kenyan artists to create a unique edge by incorporating our classic Kenyan sounds.
  3. You cannot penetrate an external market such as Nigeria by trying to do what their artists are doing already. Your success in that foreign market is impossible without essential roots, which for your case is the Kenyan culture.
  4. We need more competition in the music industry. That way, people are motivated and challenged enough creatively. So even when it’s that Hip Hop beef between Femi One and Njeri, if that’s what it takes to have artists putting in all that they have for great content that will have them emerge as winners, then so be it. (I’m not sure if I agree on this one though)
  5. In this day and age, you can’t just be an artist. You need to be an all round entertainer. Build that with social media, your performances and general lifestyle.

 

Beyond anything else, aim to satisfy your audience, to a point that they yearn to see more of you. That way, you can negotiate for higher rates. I really hope that this is a first of such conversations and that we can bring in more stake holders for an all rounded conversation that will lead to industry growth.

Of Musical Supremacy Battles in Ghana

Not so long ago, Reefer Tym claimed to be better than Sarkodie. In his own words…

 

Rison
Rison- U.S Based Ghanaian Artist (Picture source: Web) 

It’s barely been two weeks since that claim was made. And now, Ghanaian- Nigerian singer Rison thinks that he sings better than Fuse ODG, an English recording artist who is also of Ghanaian descent. During a phone conversation with Razzonline.com, Rison was asked if he believes that he is currently doing better than Fuse OGD (*eyes rolling* why would you even ask that), to which he responded,

“Oh Yes. I sing better than Fuse ODG. If I am able to get a hardworking management team like what Fuse is having, I will be the best musician ever to be produced in our part of the world. Just compare our songs and be the judge. When it comes to high notes, am simply the best.”

Here’s the thing; God blesses us in such diverse ways, even for us who share talents, which is what sets each one of us apart. Otherwise, we would have all music artists sounding the same- which would be extremely boring. (Music wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in- if that was the case). And as my friend Sarah (@sara_zombi) says, music shouldn’t be about becoming the next thing. Artists should work to build their own craft.

Plus, your talent and effort as an artist counts the most. Everything else including a great management team can be acquired later. But first things first, prove your worth with just your talent. Make the best artist manager in town want to work with you because they are sure that with your talent and the skill that they have to offer, you can be an undeniable force together. It’s that simple.

Can we have artists that focus primarily on doing great music (which is their actual job) and then letting music lovers decide whose better (not that we care if you have great music. But because you want to be ranked…why not)?

Here’s the take home though;

But just in case you have never heard of Rison…

 

What do you think?

Drop me a comment below.

STL’s Unconventional International Music Success

 

Kenya’s Stella Mwangi’s (STL) “Work” was chosen to be the official trailer soundtrack to the movie “A BadMoms Christmas”, which will hit theaters on November 3rd. The girl hasn’t even recovered from the song being used as the campaign theme soundtrack for Tommy Hilfiger’s Summer/ Spring line 2017. Or the same song being featured on BET‘s hit series Being Mary Jane‘s Season 4. Did I mention it being the official theme song for Reebok Classics ‘Free Your Style” 2017 campaign?…And that the beats to her song “Set it off” was also featured on the second season of HBO‘s TV Series “Insecure“? (I know! I’m jealous too).

With piracy being the major challenge that it is for artists, there’s very little hope (if any) left for album sales as a source or revenue. Those that are a step ahead are exploring alternative ways to earn from their music. In Nigeria, ring-back tones are making Nigerian artists millionaires. In Tanzania and Uganda, local artists plan for self titled concerts where they are the main acts and fans actually show up. Some of these concerts are even sold out. Try that in Kenya and tell me how it goes. No, actually- don’t. (I’d hate to be the reason for your career misfortunes.) Unless there’s an international act headlining the concert, you can only depend on a few family members and a handful of friends to show up. (And maybe your friends’ friends’- who have probably been promised free booze or a free to and from ride home). It could be a cultural thing- where we just don’t have it in us to support our very own or maybe I am wrong- (which I honestly hope I am).

If STL’s international success this year is anything to go by, it’s about time Kenyan artists start exploring different avenues to earn from their music. We’ve had endless battles between artists and MCSK over “insulting” royalties .While the system needs a change, artists need to be creative and open enough to see what else  can earn them what they deserve. What really works for you as an individual? (Because hey! just because Avril was a brand ambassador to Oriflame doesn’t guarantee that you will score a brand endorsement deal yourself. Or because Diamond Platnumz has a “Peanuts” business you can succeed by launching your own).

If you are an artist reading this, you’re a creative, I will leave it to you.

 

 

A letter to M.I Abaga: The take home

As promised earlier this week, I finally got to watch the Loose Talk Podcast that featured M.I Abaga on what had all started off with an open letter to him from Pulse Writer, AOT2 . The discussion was centered on among others;  M.I’s Chairman Album, the switch in his rapping style, his take over as the CEO of Chocolate City and the role of entertainment journalists in pushing African art forward- 2 hours, 46 minutes and 15 seconds. (I know!- too long for a YouTube Video). But I can promise you this;  every minute of watching was worth my time (and will be yours too-if you haven’t watched it yet). Especially if you are a Hip Hop artist, enthusiast or entertainment journalist. I got upset, had my mouth wide open in disbelief , was laughing at some point, nodding  my head in agreement and sometimes, cringing  and hoping someone eventually takes back their words. Everything that you could possibly experience as you interact with great media coverage of arts.  Without fear of contradiction, this was definitely one of the most historic conversations about music that has ever happened- hands down.

10 crucial things that I picked up on;

  1. Entertainment journalists (EJs- for the sake of the rest of this article) recreate what is happening at every moment. We tell it like it is, even when the person we are writing about will not necessarily like what we have to say.
  2. A better part of EJs that came before and even those that are there today have failed. We need to have hard hitting journalism (even in entertainment) that’s not just gossip.
  3.  As an EJ, if I dismiss 10 of your songs that I think are whack, that doesn’t take away from you the fact that you are a great artist.
  4. Positive or negative reviews, it adds to an artist’s numbers.
  5.  Media has an important role to play in pushing arts and entertainment forward. It’s not just a matter of getting the job done. Get your facts right. Don’t just chase views.
  6. As an EJ, if you have the platform and contacts, use them both responsibly.
  7.  Build relationships with artists, understand their journey and how they view things. That way, you are able to write from an informed place and well rounded article.
  8.  If you are writing a review,  make sure that your critic covers the expanse of an artist- talk of the good, the bad and the ugly. Be balanced.
  9.  Make a clear distinction when you are giving a fact and when you are giving an opinion.
  10.  Artists have to keep changing and evolving with their music, in order to survive, which sometimes alienates some core fans.

In the words of M.I, “let journalists and artists work together to push art to greater heights. We are the hope for Africa. It’s not artists V/S journalists.”

(Referring to Osagie and AOT2) M.I also said that this was the greatest podcast they had ever done in their lives. I absolutely agree, not for entertainment value, but for the issues that were tackled. This was a great first step towards a culture change in Africa’s Music Industry as a whole.

The amazing Wizkid verse that didn’t make the cut on Drake’s One Dance.

I’m a bit late on this one. But just in case you don’t know, Wizkid actually had an entire verse on Drake’s One Dance, that did not make it to the final cut of the song.  Yes, Starboy did get international recognition for his role in writing the song. But do you know just how big of an impact having a verse on that song would have had on Wizkid’s career? I am talking about a song that was on the number one spot for 10 weeks straight, on Billboard Hot 100 charts and was the most streamed song on Spotify ever, (as of 2016) with over 950 million individual streams. Let’s not even get into the song getting a Grammy nomination. But mad props to Drake  for being smart on this one…If at all he let Wizkid’s verse be on the song, he would have stolen all the shine and murdered Drake 😉

What do you think about it?

 

 

 

A letter to M.I; my take

Some time not so long ago, M.I  Abaga was asked about his silence in the music industry.  He responded by saying that his work as the CEO for Chocolate city had taken over his life and that it had been harder than he thought it would be. He also said that as he got older, it was getting harder for him to write and sing about certain things, such as being in a club, as younger artists would be in better positions to write about such.

Then came “A letter to M.I“. Dope song, minimal instrumentals that rightfully channel all the attention to the sick bars; such an incredible listen. The song pays homage to Nigerian rapper MI for being such an iconic artist who was at some point considered to be a “rap god”. All this in 50 seconds before isht takes a real turn and gets into how M.I had lost his “mojo” over time, failing to deliver to his fans the kind of amazing music that they were previously accustomed to from him.

Disclaimer Alert: I LOVE M.I. But I do need to give credit where it’s due. A letter to MI is one of the most amazing HipHop songs that I have heard in such a long time. The lyrics are well thought of and the creativity that puts together an entire story through a rap song is definitely something that more  HipHop artists should learn to do.

However, if  you are a creative, then you better than anyone else know that sometimes you hit a plateau that has you revolving around the same ideas. Other times, you give up everything that you can for your craft, until you have nothing left to give. The result; exhaustion and possible depression. Nothing as horrible as feeling defeated in something that you love. That my friends is when you need to stop and just breath.

It’s OK to take a step back. It wouldn’t be a first. Nyashinski, Alikiba and Mafikizolo all did. They came back with such a big bang we almost forgot about everyone else in the game. If anything, a break (no matter how long) is the best possible time to re- evaluate, think about why you fell in love with your art, what worked, what did not work and how to do it even better.

So much as I miss M.I’s contribution to the music industry, give the guy a break. It might  just be what he needs to get that charm back.

Your’s sincerely,

Felista Esolio.

 

Picture source: Web

My additional 3 to 2017’s list of the 100 most influential Young Africans.

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2017 List of most influential young Africans (Image courtesy of africayouthawards.org)

The 2017 list of the 100 most influential Young Africans has officially been released, with 45 women on the list against 55 men, which is obviously something to be celebrated. The list is made up of people aged between 15 and 36, with Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya having the highest number of representatives on it.

Other African artists on the list include; Wizkid, Shatta Wale, Sarkodie, Nasty C, DJ Arafat, Diamond Platnumz, Davido, Cassper Nyovest, Alikiba and AKA. But because this is my blog and I make the rules, I decided to add 3 people onto the list that I think deserve to be acknowledged for their contribution to the music industry. Guess what?….They’re all women. Drum rolls please……….

 

Yemi Alade

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Yemi Alade (Image courtesy of houseofebonny.com)

No artist has embraced their being African as wholesomely and beautifully as Yemi Alade has. If at all I was to explain to someone that had no idea what African Music is all about, she would be whom I would point out to. Yemi is the best representation of modern Africa’s amazingly diverse culture and sells the continent to the world like no one else does.

 

Vanessa Mdee

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Vanessa Mdee (Image source: artsfon.com)

This girl has studied the art of branding like her life depends on it. Case in point; V.Money brilliantly blends her Swahili  roots with different contemporary influences to create progressive Bongo Flava– a sound that is uniquely hers. She is anything but boring with expressive signature looks that reveal her bigger than life personality, making her a gem in the entertainment industry.

 

Anyiko Owoko.

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Anyiko Owoko (Image source: http://media.meanwhileinkenya.com)

From TV personality and blogger, to being one of the most sought out publicists in Africa, Anyiko is a living example of just how far passion can take you. She is the girl to go to for some exclusive tea on what’s popping, the person to talk to if you need a hook up with the creme de la creme of Africa and the only one you should be talking to if you’re looking for good press that will take your career to a whole new level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel free to add on to the list of people that you think ought to have been mentioned on this list.