Nigerian music trends due for change in 2017

The Nigerian entertainment industry is on an intense upswing, with revenues and recognition turning it into the juggernaut that many have assumed it would become since the rejuvenation of pop music and the rise of Nollywood. But this rise has been accompanied by bad habits that used to be overlooked in the early days of the industry but now need to change as it hopes to continue to conquer the rest of the world.

Yemi Alade
Yemi Alade

Starting shows hours on or close to the announced time:

Starting shows late feels endemic to entertainment industries all over the world, so this isn’t an attempt to be overtly righteous at a thing that the rest of the world suffers too. But there’s starting a show late and there’s the falsehood of the schedules on Nigerian concerts and shows. Many shows have 6pm or 7pm as their take off times, but in reality, almost no Nigerian concert starts before 9pm at night. If these shows are destined to start late, then the organizers should be honest enough to list their take off times within 30 minutes of the expected time. It’s a little annoyance, but one that needs to change nonetheless.

Artists referring to their critics as haters:

2016 ended with an old video resurfacing on Twitter of Yemi Alade reacting to criticism of her music claiming, among other things, that criticism of her work was centered her being a woman. This reaction isn’t unique to her among Nigerian artists, but is one they’ll have to change if the industry wants the critical acclaim it so arrogantly ascribes to itself. There’s no denial of the popularity of Nigerian pop music, and if the industry is content with just that it’s fine. But when awards are also coveted and even become contentious, the stars would have to learn to take criticism of their work on the chin and only strive to get better at achieving their set goals, whether it be popularity, or critical acclaim. It's not just a bad habit to describe fans as "Dumb people like you" it's terrible PR too and hurts the artists in more ways than they realise.

Acting as if professional songwriters don’t exist:

Yemi Alade’s dilemma as she was being criticized was clear: she’s an hardworking artist who has gone to great lengths to create a popular appeal across the continent via collaborations and sheer industry. This therefore begs the question: with all the work she puts in to her music, why doesn’t she find great songwriters who can craft catchy pop songs with words that won’t attract the ire of listeners who are now more tuned to what she has to say because of her increased visibility? Alade is a performer, a star who possess the kind of stage presence that can’t be taught, but she’s mediocre by all songwriting standards, so perhaps it’s time she and other superstars in the industry (Wizkid's 'Daddy Yo' shouldn't get a free pass) paid more attention to their songwriting chops and farmed it out rather than hope to continue to bamboozle their fans with repetitive harmonies and catchy beats. 

Subpar Award shows:

After the dismal show that was the 2016 Headies, it is clear that there needs to be another standard by which critical acclaim would be earned in the Nigerian music industry. One of the more interesting events of the award season was seeing Tekno nominated in categories meant for emerging stars because of the popularity of Pana and seeing him revolt at the categorisation. Standards have to be set for these things if the local award shows hope someday to match the prestige of foreign shows that the Nigerian artists now aim for. The Soundcity MVP award’s maiden show held promise, but any optimism for it should be tempered by the precedence of the Headies. The process for the Soundcity MVP awards is no more transparent than that of the Hip-Hip-World-Magazine-run show that hit its nadir in the past year, and if there’s going to be any change, transparency backed by competence in nominations and selection has to be ensured. Award shows are about glamour, but the glamour is dependent on integrity and trust, without which they would just descend into poorly attended music concerts where plaques are shared.


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