Nigerian music as a whole is currently witnessing a boom all over the world. Genres are being stretched to experiment and incorporate new elements and big corporations are on the sidelines handing out cheques to invest in the resulting viable ventures.
In the same vein, social media and the dependence on the internet for entertainment as opposed to traditional media is granting locally made sounds more unprecedented exposure on international fronts than the industry has ever imagined. With more money and fan base being spread around, the good times are finally here for everybody in the game of modern Nigerian music. Curiously, those who are transcending from the old indigenous industry are still the biggest winners till date.
Since the dawn of afro pop, pioneers of Fuji like many other indigenous African sounds have been relegated to the place of “local” artistes. They make local music for the “uneducated” common man, hence are not considered cool enough to be big earners. The irony, however, is that in comparison to modern afropop artistes, the statistics are stacked against the latter group of musicians.
To begin with, Fuji artistes perform more concerts. From Thursday to Sunday, every other day of the weekend is a live concert for many Fuji artistes. Their music has a wider fan base of people who are not the biggest fans of electronic sounds, and are not interested in needing translations to understand what a song is about.
To reach this wide base of fans, consequently, these live concerts are converted into collectives by marketers and sold on the streets the next Monday, moving many speedy miles ahead of all the label A&R politics that determine album roll outs and profit-sharing formulae for modern afro pop.
This is why it is often speculated that many Fuji artistes cannot actively track just how much music they sell. This in comparison with modern afro pop where minting hits take such a precarious process that sometimes leaves artistes at each others throats, battling accusations of theft of creative material.
For the most part of it, however, the Fuji music genre is a very competitive industry. Very much like it’s modern counterparts, artistes are constantly pitted against each other by fans in comparison. These comparisons lead to healthy competitions that see the industry moving in an alarming pace as each artiste tries to better his craft to match up to contemporaries of the same art form.
Sound arrangements are improved, deliveries are mastered, lyrics are more thoughtful or light weight depending on what the fans want to hear. This dedicated connection they have with their fans also gives them an almost cult following which mostly makes them immune to all scandals and any celebrity higi-haga that could be the source of a fall from grace as we have seen with younger afro pop stars.
Agreed, actual statistics may be difficult to collect for the sake of a conclusive data, but with Fuji artistes already performing more concerts, subsequently selling more albums, having a common man appeal and strong connections with their fan base, it becomes almost impossible for them not to be better paid. Mostly because the Fuji industry thrives sonically on actual talent and not popularity which is a blurry determinant of quality of artistry.
Forget Wizkid’s constant updates of his gold chains or Davido’s LindaIkeji headline about a buying a new car, it is still unlikely that they make as much money from shows and endorsements combined as Fuji artistes do.
Though Pasuma, Alao Malaika, Obesere amongst others have attempted to reconnect with the modern industry thanks to the cross-cultural bridge role artistes like Olamide play in that end, the move is more related to influence than revenue.
These guys are already better paid.