Ghana has a rich and enviable history when it comes to music. The sound of our traditional instruments and the great musicians we produced back in the day made Ghanaian music remain on the hearts of several music lovers around the globe. Teddy Osei and his celebrated Afro-Pop band, Osibisa, in the mid-sixties made great music which saw them touring several music festivals around the world. Osibisa is one of Africa’s first globally accepted heritage bands with several chart topping songs. Currently, Ghana’s music industry without a doubt is not as it used to be, but the question is, do we even have a music industry? Well, that is a question to be addressed another time.
Having founded a record label known as Double R Nation (DRN) Records in Ghana which will start promoting its signed artists in 2016 and successfully implementing an ultra modern recording studio at Art Centre in Accra since 2012 which aside from delivering its usual activities, also records under privileged upcoming artist who can’t afford recording fees at no cost.
I have interacted with lots of upcoming musicians from almost every region in Ghana. I know what some musicians have to go through in order to even pay and record a song. Most upcoming artists are straggling in our music industry; some think talent is enough to make it. That ideology as well as other factors such as lack of financing and proper talent management makes it impossible for these musicians to break through to stardom. The lucky ones break through but become a one hit wonder. This leaves most musicians frustrated and desperate; desperate to be heard, desperate for fame and desperate to taste the glamour that comes with stardom. This act of desperateness most often leads artists to do the unthinkable. It is a known fact that instead of musicians focusing on improving their act by working hard and trying to sell their brand inorder to gain the attention of good talent managers, rather seek “spiritual help” to make their songs popular. Others join Occult fraternities with powerful members who can assist them get the shine or are lured by rich gay men or elderly women (sugar mummies) with money to help promote their songs. In short, most upcoming artists in Ghana will engage in anything that will get them closer to their dreams.
But is it their fault? In an industry where anyone can tag him or herself as an artist/talent manager without the requisite skills and knowledge; in an industry where there are no proper structures and frameworks to attract individuals or companies with the right skills and knowledge to help develop our artist into global brands; in an industry where corruption has been established as a normal practice for decades and artists even pay to perform whereas it should be the opposite; in an industry where there are no credible award shows to appreciate musicians for their efforts and ultimately motivates them to do more. I ask again, is it entirely the musicians’ fault that they do the unthinkable just to get the shine?
Such is the case of Wisa Gried of “Ekiki Me” fame, an upcoming artist who removed his genitals while performing at the December to Remember concert organized by Accra-based Citi FM. One may ask whether he was on drugs, specifically Marijuana or whether he was filled with excitement which led him to do such an act to gain more attention. Others argue that in the middle of his performance, the excitement and hype of the crowd declined so he felt he had to do something that will get his name out there because he saw stardom slipping away.
However, I personally feel the main cause of Wisa Greid’s behaviour is lack of proper management. The individual or company managing him failed to do their job as talent managers. The role of an artist/talent manager is very broad but can be narrowed to guiding the professional career of artists in the entertainment industry. This includes but not limited to: building and growing artist brand, coaching artist, acquiring adequate funding for artist projects, gaining access to connected industry players “inner circles”, getting their artist’s careers moving forward, knowing how to build contacts, getting exposure for their artists on a limited budget, figuring out how to generate consistent income for their artists, helping their artist to stand out from the crowd, dealing with massive amounts of competition, getting their artists booked for paid shows in tough economy, combating piracy and illegal downloads, generating “buzz” for artists, getting radio airplay, figuring out where their artists fit in the marketplace and finding new revenue streams.
Wisa Greid’s management should have done all the necessary things before the show, indeed, even before releasing “Ekiki Me”. It was evidential that Wisa didn’t have any clue that he was a brand. Branding can be define in several context but it involves creating a differentiated name and image - often using a logo and/or tag line - in order to establish a presence in the fan’s mind and, attract and keep fans. That been said, Wisa Greid’s wardrobe was a disaster; he clearly didn’t understand that, what an artist wears to perform is very important.
In general, Ghana Music industry lacks proper artist management and necessary frameworks to help the industry grow. Only few artists and their management team really understand the work they do and know how important it is to keep the artist brand intact, and it is evidential that these artists such as EL, Sarkodier, VVIP, Samini, StoneBowy, Becca, Efya, Fuse ODG just to mention a few, have a great management team working to sustain their brands.
Another question that comes to mind is; whose job is it to educate these upcoming artists? The answer is no one, it is the job of the individual artist or their management to research more and update themselves with appropriate industry best practises. Well my answer isn’t all right either; it is also the responsibility of the approved industry association, in this case MUSIGA to educate artist with right industry practise which will guide them in their career. I must say, MUSIGA is trying; I have personally attended workshops organized by MUSIGA to educate artists on topical issues, such as a workshop they organized to educate musicians on the relevant laws in the industry and different types of contracts. But is MUSIGA doing enough? That’s a topic for another day.
To conclude, I must say that, the private sector isn’t prepared to invest into our music industry, specifically managing artist because the industry isn’t attractive enough. Just few record labels and entertainment companies such as Double R Nation (DRN) Records, BBnZ Live, Black Avenue Music, Lynx Entertainment just to mention a few exists in our industry and are trying to make it better.
Ghana is gifted with raw talents and together we can develop and grow our music industry to be the best in Africa and ultimately the world.
Source: King A. Wellington Founder, Double R Nation (DRN) Records
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