Mark Okraku Mantey, a music executive and CEO of Slip Entertainment record label, recently suggested that financial constraint is a major stumbling block for new musicians. Late Artiste and Repertoire (A&R) head at Zylofon Music, Willie Roy, also agreed with Mark on this issue, citing a similar issue as a great setback for rising stars. In one of Willie Roy’s interviews in 2018, he claimed new artistes can get a hit with 200,000 Ghana cedis (equivalent to USD 34,000).
However, struggling afro-pop singer Kurl Songx claimed he spent USD 100,000 – the prize he received from winning MTN Hitmaker season 5 reality show – on music production, branding and promotion but had only one hit single out of the first three songs he released after the reality show.
So, it seems the issue goes beyond money.
To get more insights into the issue, Nii Atakora Mensah of MiPromo (music distribution firm based in Ghana), A&R and PR expert Elorm Beenie, multiple award-winning disc jockey DJ Sly, and hip-hop artiste AJ Nelson share their views.
Nii Attakora suggested that that Ghanaian musicians have great talents but lack good characters and attitudes towards developing their talents.
He also believes that the industry lacks investors and as a result, a lot of new talents rely on young fraudsters to fund their projects.
“With the lack of investors most rely on fraud boys [fraudsters] and their little incomes to fund their careers, which leads half-baked promotions of their songs” Nii Attakora stated.
He also claimed top musicians also sit on up and coming talents in order to reign for a long period.
“The top dogs [stars] like Sarkodie, Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale have closed the doors of breakthrough and are sitting on the shine of others. They hustled to the top so they withhold their help to other artistes for them to also hustle to the top.
“Some of the up and coming artistes themselves are talented but half-baked. These new artistes are not able to fully express themselves and their unique sound because the top dogs have carved a certain niche for themselves and made it seem as if unsung talents don’t produce quality music.
“So, some of these artistes live in the shadow of the big names with hope that they will shine someday. This gives relevance to the brands of the big names over a long period of time. For instance, when Addi Self sings, he sounds like dancehall musician Shatta Wale, because he [Addi Self] was groomed by the dancehall star. I get confused sometimes when listening to the two at the same time.
“I'm privileged enough to be listening to the pure, authentic records and I'm more in love with him [Shatta Wale], his music and personality. It’s the ancient trick of all advertisers, the more I see ads of Adonko Bitters in all shapes and sizes across diverse media platforms, sub-consciously, the next time I walk into a bar to get a drink, I will automatically request for Adonko.”
According to Attakora, the best solution to this problem is for the government of Ghana to creative accessible funds and loans for musicians.
“Government can put in place systems to help the young artistes...like setting up funds or loans for these artistes and creating an incubator system like what Mr Eazi is doing with emPawa Africa. The government should also revamp the entire operations of GHAMRO [Ghana Music Rights Organisation] and MUSIGA [Musicians Union of Ghana] and place more qualified and competent people to steer its affairs. Creating a structure that directly connects new talents to local and foreign investors. They can create a website where the profile and songs of every new artiste are listed for interested investors to get the opportunity to screen through diverse genres of interest and have the chance to select the ones they like to invest in,” he added.
DJ Sly, who was crowned 'Event DJ of the Year' at the 2019 Ghana DJ Awards, mentioned three key factors; "lack financial support for promotion, lack of support for rising artistes from A-list artistes in Ghana and Ghanaians not paying attention to underground rather than the ‘already made’ artistes".
Elorm Beenie contends that too much blame shouldn't go to the government, instead the artistes should bear the consequences of not thinking outside the box.
According to Elorm, musicians can make good use of digital tools to sell their music instead of waiting on the government to create the avenue for them. He said a lot of musicians can use music marketing platforms like Spotify, iTunes, TIDAL, Boomplay, Deezer and others to market their music and brand. He added that the same platforms can be used to connect with both local and foreign investors.
AJ Nelson, however, believes musicians are playing their parts in the industry but are not getting the necessary support because of ungratefulness on the part of some colleague musicians.
“A lot of musicians have shown ungrateful attitudes towards their investors in the past. Even recently, we witnessed the one between King Promise and his former record label. Artistes need to show appreciation when someone picks them from the street and make them stars,” he stated.
He also added that the government should come to the aide of struggling musicians and the up and coming ones as well.
Pulse Editor's Opinion is the opinion of an editor of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse.