Being an alternative artist is the vegan equivalent of making music in a country like Nigeria where even mainstream waters are already too chaotic for many to wade. Talk less of anyone with extra heads on their shoulders, bold enough to carve a path away from the direction a nation of near-200million people have herded for many years.
For alternative acts , things never seem to work as anticipated no matter how much effort is put into ensuring the contrary. This amongst other peculiarities describes the totality of the struggle to establish oneself as an alternative artist in Nigeria.
Yet the grass is greener on the other side of their mainstream counterparts who have welcomed the decline of content in Nigerian music with open arms for mercenary matters and quick cash grabs off mundane singles. These artists and audiences alike are increasingly indifferent to music with content, meaning or proper direction. Hence elements that should make for a better-rounded soundscape are reviled as unnecessary, causing Nigerian music to be riddled with a lack of.
The mass appeal of the shake-your–bum bum inspired lyricism has made it difficult for artists making content-based music to find a space for their music. Many a time, alternative artists are forced to make career re-routing decisions in order to survive. Others who refuse to subscribe to industry dynamics are shunted to the fringes and marked with an ‘alternative’ label that merely grants them reverence without a brand big enough to earn them cheques of the same weight their commercial music colleagues demand.
To survive as an alternative artist, here are some things you need to put into consideration.
#1 Come prepared with a distinct sound and feel. Find your niche and stick with it.
#2 Seeking people who will listen to your music is a task you must engage yourself in. If your name is not Asa, Sounds.NG visitors aren’t likely to be downloading your singles in a hurry. Strategic social media marketing will be your shepherd.
#3 Create an original brand in your music and person. Do not do anything we have seen before else you die in the underground. Find that wow factor by force by fire.
#4 Interact with your fans. Whether you are creating a social media presence or performing at intimate live shows like the Afropolitan vibes, just appear on the scene as many times as possible.
#5 Your shine is in your music video. Include beautiful aesthetics, tell a good story, play an instrument for the camera and don’t smile too much. No Nyansh of any shape and size allowed please.
#6 Ain’t nothing wrong some compromise or experimentation. Diversify your music, cross language and delivery barriers but don’t lose sight of your message, don’t stray away.
#7 Bad PR is bad PR. Stay off the radar as much as you can. You don’t have to tell us about your new car, shoes or clothes, we came here for your music.
#8 Keep your music close to home. Yes, you’re an alternative artist, but you’re Nigerian first.
#9 Brace yourself, you may not be famous or make money anytime soon. Or ever
#10 But you will leave a mark on the industry and that is what true art is really about.