Here in this post, we are going to give you a detailed guide on how to start a music career in Nigeria. We hope you find this informative.
Many young people in Nigeria are interested in starting a music career. With the Nigerian music industry growing rapidly and going global, the struggle to make it to the top keeps getting higher.
Being an artiste is a very lucrative career, however being successful is tough. Due to the lucrative potentials of this career, competition is extremely high as tens of thousands of upcoming artistes struggle towards being the next Wizkid, Davido or Tiwa.
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Before Starting A Music Career In Nigeria
Being a superstar is not just about the fame and money involved. It takes serious hard work. Most upcoming artistes never attain fame or financial breakthrough in Nigerian music industry.
Before you put your efforts into your music career, you need to be sure it’s really what you want. The amount of dedication, patience, and hard work involved in it is as high- or even higher than that of most careers. Below are certain things to do in order to start your music career in Nigeria:
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1. Writing And Recording Your Song(s)
Obviously, you would have to write and record a song to start your journey in this career. To write good music can’t be taught. However, here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Think about what your music will center on. Is it about love? Or heartbreak? Or gratitude?.
- Pick a title that suits the song you are writing. The title should either be part of a phrase that exists in your lines or be connected in a way to your storyline. Make your title brief- preferably a phrase not more than 3 words.
- Choose a specific song structure for your song. The most popular structure currently is: Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus.
- Try to find a melody for your chorus by writing down the lines you feel are best for your chorus. Repeat these lines till you are comfortable with it.
- Add chords to your chorus and practice with the chords and melody. You can record it on your phone to avoid forgetting it.
- Connect your chorus and verses. Normally, chorus melodies have a note range that is higher than verses.
- Build your other verses and bridge
- Review your content and get your family and friends to review it too.
Once you are satisfied with your work and your reviewers give you positive reviews; practice, practice, and practice to be better before you go to a studio to record your song.
You have to make your song good enough to be listened to by record labels, and other music industry insiders you intend to approach.
You may enlist the help of experts such as a sound engineer or music producer who will help you pick out pre-recorded beats that best suit your song.
2. Promoting Yourself And Your Music
After recording your song(s), the next step is to get noticed. Getting this stage right is very essential if you want to ‘blow'(make it big) and not be the upcoming that is never ‘coming’. Some ways you can promote your music and gain more visibility are:
- Share Your Song(s) With Family And Friends
Your family and friends are your first fan base. Their suppprt emotionally and financially means a lot at this stage. Share your song(s) to them and encouarge them to share it to other friends
- Promote Your Song(s) On Social Media Platforms & Online Websites
Social media has made it easy and possible to connect with record labels, artistes, and a wider audience who normally, would not have the time to see you.
The power of social media cannot be overemphasized. Gain a strong social media presence. Post pictures and videos of you as much as you can.
Also be very active on social media to know when record labels are scouting for upcoming artistes to sign. Artistes have been known to be signed through this.
For example Rekado Banks got signed in 2013 to Mavin Records when Don Jazzy announced on twitter that upcoming artistes should send in their demo CDs. Mayorkun was also discovered on social media by Davido who was impressed by Mayorkun’s songs.
You can also upload your song(s) to online sharing sites such as naijaloaded.com, SoundCloud, iTunes, mynotjustok.com, etc., and offer it for free because realistically, no one would be willing to pay for a song by somebody they know absolutely nothing about. Most sharing sites request a fee for your music to be uploaded.
- Make Cover Versions Of Songs And Share On social Media Platforms
Sing not just your songs, but also a cover(s) of a popular song and post them on social media. Johnny Drille came to Don Jazzy’s attention when he did a cover version of Dija’s ‘Awww’ and was subsequently signed to Mavin Records. Few months ago, Olamide signed a rapper and his friend who made a cover of Chinko Ekun’s ‘Able God’. In 2017, Wizkid signed new artiste Terri, who did a cover of Dj Jimmy Jat’s song with Wizkid ‘Oshe’. This shows the effectiveness of singing cover versions.
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- Attend Shows & Event As Often As Possible
Attend Nigerian shows, club performances, community festivals or Carnivals, etc., and perform if you can. This will help you meet up with music industry insiders and also perform for a wider audience to improve your visibility and street credibility.
Go for events and speak with the organizers to allow you perform-even for free. Over time, they may recommend you to organizers of other shows that may pay you.
Speak to DJs at clubs; give them demo CDs and pay them to play it at shows they attend. This will expose your music to a wider audience which may include somebody who knows somebody that might be interested in your career.
- Reach Out To Record Labels
Reach out to record labels. You can do this by physically delivering your songs to them or sending an email with your music attached. You can also reach out to record label bosses such as Olamide, Davido, Don Jazzy, etc., through their social media handle.
- Connect With Other Artistes And Music Industry Insiders
Connect with as many artistes as possible. Collaborate with artistes you are comfortable with because they have a fan base you can tap into and gain more popularity. You can also play the role of an opening act for bigger artistes till you find your ground.
Reach out to OAPs, producers, as well as other influencers to build relationships that’ll help you get into places that will elevate you. You can also go to Alaba Market and pay to get your song(s) on the monthly Alaba produced DJ mixes to promote your song(s).
- Music Contests
Try participating in music contests such as Nigerian Idol, MTN Project Fame, Nigeria’s Got Talent, Freestyle Unplugged, etc.
Winning or participating in a musical contest does not mean fame is assured. Many who participated in such contests were unable to sustain fame while some others gained popularity through hard work and sheer luck after the contest.
Many artistes in Nigeria today used musical contests as a springboard to fame. This includes artistes like Omawumi, Praiz, Chidinma, Iyanya, Timi Dakolo, Dare Art-Alade, etc.
3. Do Your Research
Research to know the inner workings of the Nigerian music industry. Read up certain things that are contained in some record labels’ contract and have an idea of what to expect.
It is advisable to get a knowledgeable family member or preferably, a lawyer to review the contract before you sign. This is extremely important.
Due to inexperience and the initial joy of been discovered, most upcoming artistes end up signing unfavourable contracts that could inhibit their financial and career growth in years to come.
The cost of employing the services of a lawyer is lower than the frustrations and troubles you may encounter down the road with your label.
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The road to fame is not an easy road. Try out various genres of music till you can carve out your niche. Believe in yourself, improve your skills regularly, and be patient because being successful in the music industry takes time.
Hard work, smart work, or even sheer luck might just be the thing to make you successful and become our next Starboy, Davido, or Baddo Sneh!
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