Recently, I and the girls had a discussion. For those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, I mean ‘The AR Specialists’ (‘Afro Police’ if you like) which consists of Myself, Toya and Marie. There’s a lot more to us than meets the eye. We know a Hit when we hear it. We tell you the truth (if you want to hear it) and we don’t famz because that’s not our thing.
In our discussion we came up with what WE believe to be the 10 mistakes being made with Afrobeats in the UK and some suggestions to go along with it. Here goes:
1. Some are not avid listeners of music
Those who do not listen to music will not learn. Having a good voice alone is not enough. Listen to music, you will learn a few things. You’ll be inspired and it will aid your creativity vocally too.
No one likes a copy cat. You need to jump off that band wagon fast!!! (If copying worked, I’d be doing it myself). Take time to learn about yourself, your style and don’t be afraid to be different but if you feel the need to infuse RnB, Rap or Dancehall into what you do, make sure you’re damn good at it. Otherwise just embrace your uniqueness.
3. Don’t force it
Being an artist is not by force. Don’t force the afrobeats just because your friends are doing it and don’t venture into it because you think you’re going to become rich from it. Just because you won a talent competition in your school does not automatically give you artist status, neither does one pop at karaoke. It doesn’t work that way.
4. As a new/upcoming artist
Don’t just put your music out there. Get the opinions of others first, preferably people who are not your friends as we know that some friends will only tell you what you want to hear. Seek independent listening ears, those who are not afraid to tell you if your music is not radio worthy.
5. Don’t use YouTube as a tester for your music
Understand that people who do not know you will use YouTube to listen to your music and broadcast it to the world. Do not be in a rush to hit the ‘Publish’ button. People will judge your music based on what YOU put out. YouTube is not a social network, it’s a CV, a body of work. Understand this and you’re halfway there.
6. Once you have a banger on your hands
Maintain that. The fact that you’ve put out a banger before does not automatically mean that everything you bring out after will be received as a banger. Always look to do better than your last Hit.
L-R: Wisetola, Toya Washington, Marie
7. If you insist on doing covers
Please, please make sure it’s as good if not better than the original. No artist wants to hear their song ruined. Its criminal. Lol
When you are fortunate enough to have an interview on TV or radio, learn to promote your music by being insightful about where and how your music evolved. If you have to learn a script to come across well in an interview then so be it. No one likes to interview a musician with no personality ( it’s like pulling teeth), It’s also ok to smile in interviews (you’re not on Britain’s most wanted). Relax and enjoy your 5 minutes of fame.
Timing is important and it will serve you well to remember this. A lot of artists tend to release love songs around valentines etc… No point releasing a Christmas song in June and likewise no point in releasing a track that ain’t ripe/ready. If it needs more work, don’t be in a rush. Releasing tracks on a weekly basis is comparable to playing the lottery every week, you won’t win that way. When you’re eating you don’t stuff your food down your throat until you’re sick so please don’t ram tracks down our throats. Release and allow us to digest, learn from what has been said and then go back to the drawing board.
10. Proper promo
Why some artists will release a track with a few tweets and then leave it is beyond me. If you don’t have the time or resources to put in to promoting a good track, wait till you do. I hate to see a good track go to waste. Invest in yourself if you believe in yourself.
Wisetola (Tola Onigbanjo) is a renowned Radio host and media personality. She’s a regular on WeAreBang Radio and is the founder of Women4Africa, a prestigous awards ceremony for African women of distinction.
Keep up with Tola on Twitter or check out her blog for more entertainment nuggets.