The 10 tips in this article are bound to help you become a successful musician, especially in Nigeria, so relax and read with full understanding.
Every upcoming musician will always face the problem of how to find success in one of the biggest thriving industries in the world.
I mean the Nigerian Music Industry.
It is no denying the fact that our very own ‘Naija Music Industry’ has grown so tremendously.
To the point that we keep witnessing young upcoming artists making it to the limelight every now and then.
It is therefore no understatement if I say that the Naija music industry is still young.
Because I can’t forget a few years back when Nigerians were only playing foreign music.
The likes of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and the late Whitney Houston were the favorites of those who liked Rhythm & Blues.
While 2Pac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, etc were the favorites of those who like Hip Hop or Rap music.
Back then, I used to keep updates on every new rapper who came out, and all the hottest rap song that was being released in America.
But today, I cannot even tell who is the new rapper or which rap song is trending in America. Because Naija music is what I listen to every day.
Considering the fact that the Naija music industry is still young.
It is therefore not shocking to discover that, the percentage of Naija musician still struggling in the background as upcoming, outweighs that of their counterparts who has made it to the limelight.
Now it is basic that to make it to the limelight as an upcoming musician here in Nigeria, an artist must be ready to promote himself.
But most of them, while starting out, will not know the essence of promoting their music.
Instead, they will occupy their minds with the following thoughts: “how do I get a record label to sign me” or “how do I get a sponsor to finance my music career, cuz everyone I approach just wants me to give them money”.
How I wish those artists with such mental states would understand that those who are asking them for money are those who have made it a point of duty to develop artists.
You might call them “artiste developers”, yes! They are the ones you must pay a fee to help you fix things up in your career.
The good ones will try their best to help in every area of your career by gathering their experiences and teaming up with various experts.
Above all, spend long days and nights studying and researching, and make available the tips and tricks that will enlighten, as well as guide the upcoming artiste rightfully down the road to making it in this industry.
Finally, you must understand that it is a great advantage and privilege for you to find the right people.
I mean, those who are primarily the teachers that will help you get down the road to finding your record deal and or sponsors.
Therefore as one of your teachers, let me present to you the 10 tips you must master in order to succeed as an upcoming artist for this Naija.
How do I become a successful musician?
To become a successful musician in the Nigerian music industry, you have to do the following:
- Learn about the industry
- Look for a mentor.
- Gain business knowledge.
- Be a master of your craft.
- Discover your uniqueness.
- Build a team.
- Network a lot.
- Always book yourself in.
- Never relent in your effort or give up.
- Help a fellow upcoming artist.
1. Learn about the industry.
Hmm! You will hear a thousand people say: “Naija music industry no be beans.
You must have connections or big money in order to enter and stay”.
But am here to tell you that, if you buy into such an idea, you will soon give up on the industry and walk away, and as such bring your career to a permanent end.
Therefore, instead of listening to those cock and bull stories, settle down and learn about the industry.
And how would you do that?
2. Look for a mentor.
The trick is to get acquainted with those who have been in the industry before.
Even if they did not blow, it doesn’t mean they were unsuccessful, rather one event or encounter might have been the reason they left the industry.
And ventured into other careers or businesses that profited them more, and robbed them of time to settle down and make music.
So you need to understand that they did not leave the industry empty-handed.
They sure must have gained one knowledge or the other about how one must make the industry work for him.
Sometimes this knowledge might have been gained when they left.
So if you are just lucky for them to grant you an audience and give you tips. You will immediately possess the tech know-how of the music industry.
One piece of advice I’d like to give in this regard is that you should not set your mind too much on finding a mentor someone who is already successful in the industry.
That is to say, someone who has already blown or is currently making waves.
The reason I am saying this is because, the majority of those guys currently making waves do not want another to come in and outshine them, or steal a fan or two from them.
And if you are most unfortunate, they will end up extorting money from you, and abandon you once you become broke.
But on the other hand, someone who left the industry to pursue other endeavors and became successful in them will be willing to guide you.
After all, both of you are not sharing the same career, so why would he bother about you outshining him?
3. Gain business knowledge.
I wonder if you are familiar with the saying “Music is Business”.
This saying means that you have to be knowledgeable in business in order to succeed as a musician.
Unless you are not doing commercial music. That is, the music you want to sell to the public and make gain out of it.
Every successful businessman will be quick to enlighten you that, even if you already have the capital to invest in any product or service, you must first and foremost set up a “Business Plan”.
Before you implement it, in order to be able to make a profit out of those products and services.
For instance, it is a business plan that will enlighten you about the advantages and disadvantages of the products and services you want to invest in.
It is also a business plan that will tell you what you must consider while choosing a location for your business etc.
Thus, a musician who has business knowledge will know the kind of song he must make to key into the public demand and sell out like pure water.
So therefore a musician with business knowledge must catapult from, having a song or an album to having a business.
4. Be a master of your craft.
My dear friend, I am begging you in the name of God, never for once to entertain the idea that you are the best in your genre.
Even if you can spit 3 hours freestyle without repeating words, never still feel that you are the best.
You might rap faster than Twista or whosoever is the current world’s fastest rapper. Still, never think you are the best.
Rather work on improving or learning something new all the time.
Listen to others who are on top in your genre and find out what new style or pattern they are incorporating into their music.
Study new artists who are breaking into the mainstream, and look out for that thing that is making them hot.
Borrow and rebrand those skills, and add to your own skills.
For example, you can even go as far as studying some other language in Nigeria that is not your own and put it somewhere in your song.
So that, once people from that tribe hear their language in your song, it will spark a debate like whether you are from their place but were born or raised where you are located now.
Even if they discover where you are from, they will start thinking that your mother must be from their tribe, or that you are engaged or married to someone from their tribe.
These debates in the end will help your fan base to grow from that particular tribe.
Do you know how many fans 2Baba gained from Nigeria when he made a song in Ibibio language titled “Mfina Ibagha” meaning “No problem”?
Even though he finally married Annie from that tribe, he had gained enough fans from the Calabar tribe before they realized he was their in-law, just because of that song.
Another thing you can do regarding this aspect is to enroll in schools or programs organized for artists.
For instance, to train their voices, and stop being convinced your voice is the sweetest.
If you imbibe this idea, you will soon discover how you are acquiring new skills that will make you more control over your voice.
It might surprise you to know that even your Big Artist has coaches who help them every now and then to improve or learn something new.
Which they are incorporating into their songs to help them keep being that musician everyone is celebrating today.
5. Discover your uniqueness.
You must find that one thing or a song that will set you apart from the enormous competition ongoing in this industry.
For instance, Naira Marley was never well known until he made the song “Am I a Yahoo Boy” and got arrested by EFCC.
Now the prosecution secured Marley a national presence because every media house and online blogger was keeping updates on what was going on with Naira Marley while he was in his cell.
Soon after the saga ended his so-called fan base ‘Marlians” began to spread like wildfire, and today every controversy trailing the Marlians fanbase is making Naira Marley more and more popular.
All this happened because he had something that set him apart from others.
So you must find what to do or sing about that will make all eyes turn toward your direction.
And no time you will find industry owners and sponsors looking for you every which way.
But please don’t let it be anything relating to crime, because if you end up being locked away, you will lose all the fans you started to gather when you return back.
6. Build a team.
Yes! Having a team is very necessary in order to succeed as a musician. This is because you will be having too many people working on your behalf.
And even more than that, a team member can be connected to an uncle who knows a label owner or sponsor. And his introducing you to that person might be the beginning of your walk to stardom.
Now the most important thing about finding and keeping a team member is that you must appeal to one benefit or the other on their part.
That is to say, your team member must be aware of what he is going to gain in the end for working with you.
Now let me reveal to you that, there are a thousand and one persons out there who have money or connections, but are yearning to be recognized by the public or noticed in the crowd.
But unfortunately, they lack the talent that can help them do so.
So what they will end up looking for is to identify with the person who has the talent, so that through that person, they can achieve their aim.
Therefore look for these kinds of people and have them on your team, and you will realize what effort they will put to make you become successful.
Stop being a bedroom musician and go out there to find people you will put on your team.
And when you do find them, keep them hooked by doing those things that will make them happy.
For instance, you can do a song and mention their names on it; and you will see how they will want everybody to listen to that song by sharing it on every platform they have access to.
7. Network a lot.
To make it as a musician, you must establish your presence, and let people feel it in the online community.
It is not really about having three Facebook accounts full of 5,000 friends each, or 10,000-page likes.
But the key here is to belong to an online group(s) that will help you learn a thing or two about the music trade, at least every now and then.
What I am trying to say here is that you should search for many music-related groups that you can join.
Be it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Because that is where you will discover discussions by experienced professionals in the industry on several aspects that concern the industry.
When you are there connect with as many of them as you can.
Send them private messages, asking questions and requesting info on how you can make the best out of your musical career.
There are countless individuals who are keen on helping young artists not make the same mistakes that they did.
Therefore, you must go online now and then to find them.
8. Always book yourself in.
The majority of the big artists you see out there were discovered by their record labels or sponsors during a gig.
The artiste performed so well that the crowd was hailing and shouting, even though he was up-and-coming.
That’s what record labels are looking for-an artiste who can pull a crowd.
So what happens after the show?
They approach the booking agents or organizers, or even the artiste direct, and take his contact details.
The next day he receives a call, and in no time, he is signing papers of becoming a superstar.
For this reason, always make sure you book yourself in on gigging at every slightest opportunity that presents itself.
Even if you have to pay booking agents so they could give you a chance to perform, do it.
Most especially on shows that feature A-List artists.
Consequently, if you want to become a superstar, gigging full-time is one of the keys.
9. Never relent in your effort or give up.
Just because you spent thousands of Naira to organize a show that no one paid to enter, or your music has been online for years and has only 10 views; you now want to relax or probably give up and pursue another career.
My brother and friend, before you do that, go around and interview every A-List artiste; and they will tell you what they’ve been through to get to where they are today.
I have personally had my own drink from the cup of vinegar served by this industry.
I once spent close to 200,000 to organize a show and went home with just 1,000 the next morning.
However my show was a failure because there was a free show in my same neighborhood, plus it was on an Easter good Thursday when everyone was in the church beginning the Easter celebration.
I won’t even talk about my parent’s money that I wasted to record tracks and albums that went nowhere, but still, I didn’t relent on my effort or give up on entertainment.
And even though I did not make it as an A-List artiste, my experience in the industry has made me become today a record label owner, online promoter, blogger, cinematographer, and photographer.
Above all else, it is the same experience that is helping me to be the one showing a lot of upcoming artists the road to making it in this industry.
So no matter what resistance you meet, never relent in your effort nor give up in this industry.
10. Help a fellow upcoming artist.
Now you have learned all these basic tricks, you’re well-equipped to put your career in the right direction.
But I want you to know that there is a great power behind giving back what you have received.
There is a proverb that says “give to receive”.
So it’s about time for you to pass this knowledge around to every upcoming artist you know.
Who knows, that person’s luck might just come earlier, and remember you were the one who recommended the tips or tricks that helped him to succeed, he will definitely fix you up too.
Even a little feature in one of his or her tracks will help you grow the fan base that will catapult your career to the next level.
Therefore, reach out to and help every other singer and musician the same way you are helped.
Keep their hopes alive, and share this article and every other thing else you have learned that has helped drive your career in the right direction.