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» » » » » » 5 creative ways of getting into the music industry

There was a time I would walk into my office or study and there were more CDs than files or books.    I am an avid collector of CDs but these discs belonged to a lot of random or ‘introduced’ unsigned artistes sent to the office by family, friends, associates, classmates, and so on. I had to learn how to declutter my space of random, mostly unsolicited demo CDs I received from people who believe they have what it takes to be the ‘Next Big Thing’ in Nigerian music.
Through the deluge of CDs, emails and on-site auditions, I discovered a couple of real talents. The others?
Let’s just say I have almost mastered the art of telling people that they must have a better calling than music or acting.
It was a lot easier when we had the platform WAPi (Words and Pictures) run in conjunction with the British Council, which was very popular from 2007-2010 and birthed the careers of some of Nigeria’s present big stars. It will amaze you the number of big name acts that passed through WAPi whether it was in Lagos, Abuja or Kano.
WAPi was a platform for young people from diverse creative fields to converge every month, and showcase their talents based on the theme of the month. Those themes included AIDS, modern day slavery and issues that were pertinent to Nigerian youths and the most amazing part was seeing an average of 500 youth interpret these themes and how it affected them, using various media. Music, fashion, spoken word, acting, graffiti etc.
These days, talents are looking for ways to get their music heard or be discovered by the right people in the industry. My advice will be to hone your skills and get proactive. Not everyone knows where the offices of some of the biggest record labels, studios or production companies are (and when you do, they don’t accept unsolicited mail/material). 
Harrysong was a songwriter before becoming a successful singer
The good news is the people who matter, A&R managers, scouts and all, are constantly looking for talents in the most random places. Keep focusing on what you do best and you will be discovered and, if you know where the popular watering holes or happening places are, go there and show what you are made of. Present yourself properly and pitch your product. Some of today’s biggest stars have been discovered through the most interesting and functional media. Here are a few interesting options for today’s artists:

1. Instagram
Now Instagram is slightly different from the other social media platforms, in that it mostly discovers models and designers. In Nigeria, it has discovered some of the most hilarious comic talents. Rihanna discovered her co-star in BBHMM video, Sanam a 25-year-old Seattle resident—who is neither a model nor actor—thanks to Instagram.
Before we were serenaded by his 'Orente'Adekunle Gold was and still is a prolific graphics designer. He posted the most hilarious and creative images on Instagram. It was in the process of promoting his art that he met Olamide who signed him to his YBNL label.
I knew about Falz, the comic rapper, years ago when his first skit/single ‘Shakara’ aired on radio but he garnered more popularity after his hilarious 15-second instagram skits flooded people’s timeline.

2. Facebook
Now that Facebook is multidimensional, as a new artiste, you can post your video and music and get your friends to share it to their friends. When word gets round, open a page and rake up those likes.
In 2008 before rapper MI Abaga’s first album came out, he and his label Chocolate City were heavy on Facebook, engaging people. The promotion (not through Facebook Ads) led to a historic feat: Talk About It, his debut album, sold 30,000 copies on the first day of release.

3. YouTube
In 2008, Justin Bieber was just another Canadian kid until a talent manager took notice of YouTube videos where Bieber covered songs from Neyo and Chris Brown. From there, Bieber signed with Usher and The Island Def Jam Music Group, after turning down an offer from Justin Timberlake. Today, the Biebs is known around the world.
The Weeknd started posting YouTube videos in 2010 his songs went viral and drew attention online through word of mouth, thanks to Drake who posted some of them to his blog. In September 2012, The Weeknd signed with Republic Records in a joint venture with his own imprint label XO. Shortly after, he released the compilation album Trilogy. Since then, he has appeared on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay and 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack. He also won a couple of Grammys. Not bad for our half-African brother eh? There's no reason why same approach can't work elsewhere.

4. Industry events or talent hunts
I mentioned WAPi earlier, now we have a lot of ‘offshoots’ of WAPi all over Nigeria whether they are weekly, bi-monthly, monthly or even quarterly live events in select locations around Nigeria.
The average artist or actor or writer or even orator has a plethora of platforms to share their talent on: Taruwa Open Mic Night and Afropolitan Vibes hosted in Bogobiri and Freedom Park in Lagos are great spots to show and discover talent. More mainstream events like televised singing contets helped such acts as Iyanya, Chidinma, Timi Dakolo and Omawumi to come to the limelight. 

5. Ghostwriting
If you don’t have the talent to be on stage but you are an amazing writer, you can ghost write for a popular artiste, we have very few known songwriters in Nigeria. Before Harrysong became the ‘Reggae Blues’ crooner, he wrote several songs for popular artists. I remember him writing an entire song right before me for yet another big-name artist, who was also in the studio, just as the producer laid tracks.
To do this, you would probably need to hang around the studios of an industrious or popular producer and offer your services. Just make sure you sign a contract.

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