Entertainment of Saturday, 16 February 2013

Source: Nanaquame Addai

A letter to the Ghanaian music fan

Hope you are enjoying the barrage of hot tunes being released thus far this year. From all indications, our musicians have entered the year with a vengeance and the likes of Sarkodie and Efya, Edem, EL, Manifest, Felly, Richie and D3 have set the tone for 2013’s sound policy.

My personal favourites so far though have included, Sarkodie and Efya’s “Devil in Me”, EL and Manifest’s “Hallelujah” and new entrant Felly’s “Ghana Girl Swag.” Am sure with so much great music to choose from, you will agree with me that the quality of songs being released on the local scene is certainly rising to the highest international standards.

The music has gotten so much better that even our multinational corporations have taken notice and are luring artistes with mega payouts to act as their brand ambassadors.

This means our artistes [some of them at least] will be able to invest a lot more into their music and marketing drive; employing qualified business managers and publicists [instead of “near ignorant yes managers” ] to properly shape and propagate their brands beyond the shores of the country.

Our musicians’ union is also looking more vibrant under a younger and more respected leadership that is on a renaissance path to revitalize and give much needed direction to the business side of our music.

You will agree with me then, that these are indeed exciting times for GH music.

However, you [the fan] have a part to play to ensure that our music industry, [often vilified as lacking structure and direction] and the people, who make a living off it, become bigger and better.

Suffice to say, the bigger our acts are, the better the music we are sure to enjoy.

Having stated that, it is imperative that we are loyal to our local music brands.

Wizkid’s music is great but I bet R2Bees makes much better music on any day. Tiwa Savage and Omawumi may be awesome, but who says they are better than Efya or Becca; and Banky W is most certainly not a better singer than Richie Mensah.

Our DJs have never really helped us much, preferring to feed us foreign music instead of local music because they are waiting for an artiste to “sort them out”; but who said they play please themselves, it is us [the listeners] who need to be impressed.

Thus, if we are loving GH music and requesting for it, then they would have no choice but to give it heavy rotation without asking artistes to “sort” them out first.

Imagine, listening to the radio without any Ghanaian music ever playing; we really can’t allow that, can we?

I believe we would love watch MTV Base, Channel O or Trace TV and find a heavy rotation of Ghanaian music videos competing [effectively] with other international acts. These channels have nothing against Ghanaian acts; but they are in the business of churning out videos that they believe people want to see. In effect, MTV Base is actually showing Ghanaian viewers Nigerian and South African music videos because they believe, that’s what we all prefer to watch after all we playing their music more on radio and dancing to them in the clubs every weekend.

There’s the story of an MTV Base rep who came to Ghana specifically to get local music videos for the network but had to leave empty handed because apparently, right from the airport to his hotel, the only music he heard playing on our major radio stations simultaneously, was music by Wizkid, Davido and a host of Nigerian and foreign acts. He therefore came to the conclusion that there is probably no better Ghanaian music than what was receiving heavy rotation on our radio stations. As it the story goes, he flew to Nigeria instead, the very next day!

This is a true story, but even more than that, it is a clear indication of the effects, our actions and inactions are having on the development of our music industry and its players.

I have nothing against enjoying foreign music, matter of fact, am a big fan [have you heard Wande Coal’s constantly freestyle?! Luv it!], but I love Ghanaian music so much more. Plus it is imperative that we give our artistes the love and support due them especially when they are obviously putting in the work to impress.

Sarkodie is undoubtedly our biggest act currently, but how well are we selling him and other hugely talented acts including the likes of R2Bees, Richie, Efya, and so many others to the rest of the world.

The more we sell them, the more money international event organizers will be willing to pay for their services and the easier it will be for them to achieve success beyond Ghana.

As music fans, our artistes owe it to us, to put in the work and make great music as well as go the extra mile to entertain us every time.

It is however our responsibility to patronize their music, their shows and everything else around them, because that is the only way in which our music industry will truly grow and earn positive international repute.