For the record, I don’t claim to know everything or know it all but I am writing from my perspective, what I have seen and learnt over the years as an entertainment practitioner. Also any opinion(s) expressed here is solely mine and mine alone.
Having said that let’s talk about the seven (7) MAJOR things an artiste needs to be able to make good music.
1. SELF BELIEF
3. HARD WORK
6. SELF RE-INVENTION
7. CONSTANT READING
LOYALTY: At one point or another each of us has mistaken loyalty for servitude or serfdom. My definition of loyalty is simple; don’t talk about me behind my back, if I offend you tell me to my face in private, don’t wash my dirty linen in public for others to see. Defend and speak for me behind me especially when am not there not just when am around or in the vicinity. Betrayal is the opposite of loyalty and it hurts when those you trust let you down especially as they are able to talk about you because you gave them the privilege of coming into your life or being around you to see and know these things.
Like Bob Marley sang ” Only Your Best Friend Knows Your Secrets So Only He Could Reveal It.”
Sometimes artistes forget the little things once they get to the top or feel they have arrived. Sometimes they forget the people who first believed in them or paid for their first studio session, or gave them airplay. They forget to give due credit during interviews (print, audio or video) to those who deserve or merit it. Sometimes that simple mention is the greatest form of reciprocating, giving back and showing them you appreciate their role in your life/career. Remember it is the little things like this that often give the big things credibility. An artiste should also remember that not everybody in your life will be there in the end, some are meant to teach you, some to mentor you, some to bring you to limelight and some to take you all the way.
Every good parent wishes their child to grow and prosper more than them so also every teacher wishes his/her student the best and wants them to do better than they did or are doing. But often in a bid to grow or stand on their own artistes disregard and often totally disrespect their mentors or teachers or the people who helped them gain limelight. Some often feel cheated and want out of their contracts without going thru the proper channels of disolution. They forget contracts are legally binding and can ruin or make their career. It is always better to start a solo career in peace and continued goodwill from a mentor than to start it in strife and with controversy hanging over your head. Most artistes fail to read between the lines prior to fame before signing a contract and later they live to regret it.
I could go on and on but the list is endless but one thing I know is this, sometimes keeping your mouth shut about what went down is the best form of loyalty most times the people you tell your problems only wanna laugh at you or gossip about your woes. There’s no substitute for loyalty it always make a huge difference.
SELF RE-INVENTION: To be a good artiste, you have to be versatile, you have to be able to deviate from your comfort zone and try out new things. But most Nigerian artistes want to do it all themselves and at times assume that is versatility. They wanna be listed as song writer, singer, instrumentalist and even back up or back ground vocals. Sometimes letting someone else do your back up or back ground vocals brings or adds on a new groove or fresh vibe to the song from someone else’s perspective and view. Sometimes most Nigerian artistes forget the reason for remixing a song, collaborating with or featuring other colleagues on a song. Sometimes some don’t wanna feature or have others on their song because they are scared of giving someone else attention and putting the spotlight on another, other than themselves. Some even go as far as not shooting a video(s) just because they don’t want the featured artiste to be seen or be thrown into the limelight.
You do a remix, feature or collaborate with other artistes because you wanna bring something new to a song, infuse a new twist or because you simply wanna tap into the fan base of the featured artiste(s) or share their market outreach. It also serves to show that you are versatile and able to flow on other types or genres of music different from your niche or cultural background. Other times a remix, collabo or feature is simply because the artiste wants their music to crossover.
Versatility will give you the confidence to know that giving others an opportunity will only make you grow and make you a better artiste, because you become aware of your limitations and in turn become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses creatively in the long run. To stay relevant an artiste has to always seek out ways to reinvent themselves as often as is needed or required.
CONSTANT READING: By constantly reading books voraciously and at all times: novels, biographies, motivational pieces, poems & all sorts, you will increase in knowledge, build your vocabulary, synonyms, wordplay, your rhyming and floetry. It also helps you know the meaning(s) of certain words without having to consult a dictionary. It is a tested and true fact that reading helps us in several ways, it builds our character, increases and boosts our confidence because the more we learn and know the more we are able to fit into any type of gathering or society. But most importantly as an artiste, speaking fluently, wordplay, foreplay, rhyming and floetry make a huge impact when discussing with fellow artistes who do not speak your native language, in song writing, melody and the lyrical flow of any song. Sometimes reading simply makes you knowledgeable, broadens your vocabulary and gives you a wide range of words or phrases to pick from when writing a song.
It is a known fact that some artistes aren’t good in spoken or even written English for that matter. This therefore adversely affects they way they answer questions during interviews or media parleys. Sometimes this makes them scared and nervous about messing up that are always in a rush to move on to the next question else they make mistakes on camera or on air.
So the more you read continuously it will in turn help you speak more fluently and also give you the confidence you need to answer questions on the red carpet or during tv or radio interviews. (Personal advice to artistes, stand in front of a mirror rehearse over and over again they same way you do when prepping for a performance, read more books and feel free to ask questions when in doubt, remember no one knows it all)
Sometimes wear shades so you won’t have to look as any faces, imagine they are invisible and you are the master of your world and always be clear in your responses, never try to speak like an American or a British person or have you ever seen them trying to speak like Africans except in movies? Looooool!! If as an artiste you do all these things you stand an 80% chance of being a successful and fulfilled artiste.
ARTISTE TIP OF THE DAY
Always be courteous at all times especially to those who might seem like they can’t do anything for you. Sometimes it is people like these who are your true fans that defend and fight for you when you are not there to defend or speak for yourself.
All written articles and pieces are original works of Toks Asher Young except the quoted excerpts.
Photo Credit: Freepik.com