Ghanaian mainstream artistes should stop celebrating a million YouTube streams (Pulse Editor’s Opinion)

I evoked the fury of some shallow-minded, reckless and unlettered cult following of Stonebwoy Monday night (April 19) when I made a general statement regarding the need to stop celebrating a million YouTube streams and up our game to compete with other African countries on the international market.

A million YouTube views artwork

“Our mainstream artistes should stop celebrating 1 million YouTube views in 2021. It’s an insult to our music industry. Nigerians will continue to mock us if we continue this useless trend. We can do better, Ghana!” my post read.

I contemplated the accustomed negative reaction before putting up the post – because the truth hurts, triggers emotions and may make those at the receiving end uncomfortably bitter. It is normal. It’s part of human nature, and I’m not exempted. I do feel the same when my boss yells at me at the office or slams my monthly performance through emails when I fall short of my KPIs.

And just to make this clear – the post wasn’t targeted at any particular musician and it isn’t against anyone celebrating their success. It was a general post targeted at mainstream artistes. It’s okay for rising or up and coming artistes to celebrate 100,000 to 1,000,000 streams on YouTube and other music stores but for mainstream artistes, it is awfully embarrassing to watch. Furthermore, it is fine if fans of mainstream artistes celebrate a million streams on YouTube.

When it emerged last year that Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz is the first sub-Saharan African singer to get one billion views on his YouTube channel, many Ghanaians were quick to judge and bash their artistes. So, why channel their anger towards me when I started the obvious? It is absurd.

Ghana’s influence on YouTube

I have been a digital marketer for nearly a decade so believe me when I tell you that Ghana is very influential on YouTube – the world’s most popular video streaming and monetisation platform. I can authoritatively state that there are an estimated 6.2 million Ghanaians YouTube subscribers. This doesn’t include Ghanaians in the diaspora as well non-registered users. Since YouTube is accessible to non-registered users, it means there are more than 6.2 million Ghanaian YouTubers users. And out of these millions of Ghanaians on the platform, about 70 per cent are interested in music, especially secular. The rest are interested in interviews, documentaries and TV series, talk shows, entertainment and political news channels.

Considering this, it’s fair that we stop making a whole fuzz out of a million streams. There are so many digital tools available to Ghanaian artistes, record labels and management to set off influence on YouTube. This isn’t rocket science in this digital age.

Celebrating sheer mediocre

The Ghana show-business industry is used to celebrating mediocrity, yet we are quick to compare ourselves to Nigerians, Ivorians, South Africans and other African countries when it comes to music. For how long shall we continue to celebrate a million streams on YouTube when we can unquestionably do better? Does it make sense for one to celebrate their first birthday every year? Celebrating the same achievement over and over is a sign of retrogression. We need to move away from celebrating little success to monumental success.

Forward ever, backward never

What we should be fighting for as a struggling industry is progress (nothing more nothing less). To borrow the words of late Dr Kwame Nkrumah: “Forward ever, backwards never.”

Our mainstream artistes cannot jubilate over a million streams when we have surpassed BET Awards and MOBO Awards, and now fighting for Grammy Award. YouTube figures might not play a major role or influence a Grammy nomination but don’t forget that digital sales (including streams) count.

At my workplace, my employer has given me a 'deadly' monthly KPIs that I should meet. And even after meeting it, I’m expected to do more the following month. It might sound a bit harsh, but only harsh to idle people. It is only a sign of progress. It shows the sky is the limit.

Ghanaian artistes can do better by challenging themselves to do more. Achieving a million streams in a day isn’t a bad feat but this record has been set and broken over and over again by mainstreamers and even some rising stars. Why should mainstream artistes celebrate such achievement when a rising rapper like Yaw Tog is able to accumulate a million YouTube streams in just 72 hours? Why should we celebrate a million streams that will be stuck at 2 million after a month when Sarkodie has nearly 80 million streams for the remix of "Adonai"?

We can do better, and to do this, we have to focus on achieving greater heights. Our artistes and their management’s focus should be on breaking records rather than celebrating already broken records.

Pulse Editor's Opinion is the opinion of an editor of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organisation Pulse.

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