How great singles are ruining Nigerian music albums

yemi-alade

The last two years have been characterized by a myriad of hit singles from a wide array of artistes. Many albums released by these same artistes during the space of that time have however, been mind numbingly average.

Nigerian entertainment has been enjoying a major boom for nearly ten years now and this has translated to more than just discovering new talents. Corporate bodies and investors alike have found their way into the industry to ensure these new discoveries are heard and properly rewarded.

Industry dynamics have expanded to increase networking capabilities, making it easier for artistes to get discovered by labels that will sign them on. The prominence of digital media and its power of viral content marketing has also changed the industry significantly. OAPs, radio and club DJ’s alike now refer to the internet to get an idea of what people want to listen to. Technically, all of this translates into progress for industry players. Sadly, it seems the music itself has taken a nose-dive for the very same reasons.

LPs used to be a medium for artistes to be heard and paid. Albums were expected to demonstrate the skill, versatility and popularity of the artist, enough to gain the attention of the marketers in Alaba. The marketers subsequently handed cheques for the artistes’ entire original record and took over the responsibility of distributing the record to the rest of the country. This process was not only tedious but exploitative.

A simpler and fairer distribution process now exists. One in which all the artiste needs to gain the public’s attention is that one hit song, buoyed by as many remixes as possible. This new found relevance is sustained with a series of similar singles released back to back to secure concert performance slots. The singles are collected with a couple fillers to bulk up the track list then voila! the debut album is ready. These mediocre albums go through mostly unnoticed but the labels rake in money from performances and endorsement deals. The artiste gets paid, the label gets paid and everybody is happy.

The resultant effect is a steady output of mediocre music even from the most talented of performers. Artistes no longer feel obligated to make better music because album sales are not top of their revenue points. Albums are merely released to fulfil label obligations and as such, many A-list artistes- from Yemi Alade to Flavour- have had relative success with their singles but not with albums that can stand the test of time.

The stronger arguments to make against this decline in music quality is that LPs can no longer be used to study the development and career projections of an artist. One thing is a given however, the music is no longer what it used to be.

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