ARE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTES LIKE BLACKMAGIC ENJOYING FREEDOM ON MAINSTREAM? | MyStreetz Magazine ARE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTES LIKE BLACKMAGIC ENJOYING FREEDOM ON MAINSTREAM? – MyStreetz Magazine

ARE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTES LIKE BLACKMAGIC ENJOYING FREEDOM ON MAINSTREAM?

ARE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTES LIKE BLACKMAGIC ENJOYING FREEDOM ON MAINSTREAM?

ARE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTES LIKE BLACKMAGIC ENJOYING FREEDOM ON MAINSTREAM? Are they also doing enough to compete?

It was one of those Saturdays when the boys had time to hangout and discuss
several issues around the music industry. There were enough drinks and
small chops to go round till late night. My boys are neither partisan nor
team this or that when we engage in constructive conversations about the
Nigerian music industry; they objectively spill things out the way they are.

For most of the evening, we got carried away talking about all the gains so
far in the music circle until we veered into the world of our alternative
artistes. At that point, I felt joy amidst despair that seems to have
enveloped a number of these entertainers for a while. If not for the love
for their craft keeping them still believing, situations have had most of
these entertainers stressed up in the meander associated with the Nigerian
music industry. I have watched some exit because the system in totality
failed to embolden their craft. It was never because they had less audience
– to the contrary! It was a combination of record labels and mainstream
media outlets failing to remain a backbone for this genre like they do for
others. Are artistes like Blackmagic, Bez and the Brymos of this industry
enjoying freedom on Mainstream? Are they getting the necessary support from
record labels and media outlets? There are so many questions that are
begging for answers.

Are they getting the kind of provisions their pop counterparts are
enjoying? Do we have enough activation catering for their audience to come
hear them? Are there enough brands on this side of the divide endorsing
their craftsmanship? Are these set of artistes also doing enough to
compete? So many questions for years but the lack of coherence in response
from professionals have contributed to why a chunk of these artistes have
exited the industry for greener pastures in other countries or have
completely thrown in the towel. I just wonder what would have happened if
we never had the kind of platform created by Alliance Francaise Lagos where
the likes of Asa performed and connected with her audience when she started
out? Maybe her dream would have died or she would have bowed to the
pressure of joining the bandwagon train of trending music.

Is the over commercialization of the industry creating blindfolds hindering
us from considerably supporting the efforts of genuinely talented creative
alternative artistes in this country? For so long we have held on to the
hope that someday our artistes get nominated or win the Grammy. Arguably,
the only set of artistes that could gain a spot in the ‘World music
category’ are not the pop artistes but those we categorized under the
alternative music segment. The rationale behind this thesis is not based on
the illusion that pop artistes are less superior but because most artistes
that have ever been nominated from Africa for Grammy awards are artistes
with music from either alternative roots, classical background or
culturally inclined sound. So if this is still the case, I think it’s high
time record label execs and the media have a change in approach to
alternative music.

I understand the fact that we are in a dance era but this same generation
still loves to listen to good (alternative) mid or slow tempo music that
connects with the reality around them. They still endorse songs that
inspire and make them feel good. If the primary constituents in the music
industry system i.e. record labels and media outlets fail to do its own
bits and pieces for this genre, the corporate world will not take a lead.
We all once rallied around other genres that are uniquely Nigerian until it
was heard far and wide. I know there’s a particular weekly segment now on
Morning Drive on Beat99.9FM that caters to a weekly alternative music
chart. However, more needs to be done by the industry as a whole. What
makes the American or French music arena great is because there is almost
equal professional space, opinion and commentary for all kinds of music
despite the genre. That endeavour is reflected in the number of followers
and achievements made by western, rock, soul, classical and other
alternative music artistes. The awards won by the folks doing these various
genres are also an indication of the progress made.

I don’t think the problem alternative music is facing in the Nigerian music
industry is solely because we have less professionals in the record
companies/labels or media industry who understand and appreciate the
diversity in the system. It’s because we have created a structure/illusion
in mainstream that makes us solely trend driven. We hardly see beyond what
is buzzing. This issue is a syndrome of third world countries; they hardly
diversify. For example, when there’s oil boom, like when a music sound is
trending, they cling to it for dear life; and make the money without
reinvesting in other projects or future possibilities.  To eradicate the
problem in the system, alternative artistes also need to work harder. The
music industry is competitive; it’s not only for the most creative but the
most consistent that knows how to evolve with the demands without losing
their core values.

To be candid, no one will cut you a slack because you are an alternative
artiste. To compete, you will constantly need to bring the A-game on. I
understand the exquisite nature of an alternative musician does not allow
them the luxury of frequently churning out music like their pop colleagues
but that should not be a justification to be inconsistent.  There’s a lot
to be done by everyone for the greater future of endless possibilities
where we can boldly stake a claim for various honours and major budgets in
a diversified music market. So, I have started with myself in this
conversation with one of the most respected and hard working alternative
artistes in this country. Welcome to the world of Blackmagic.

READ THE COMPLETE STORY IN THE NEXT POST( The Blackmagic interview)

– Words by sesan Adeniji

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