The Nigerian music industry has witnessed tremendous airplay in the electronic media over the past half a decade. Its sure has come a long way from the 80’s when our TV’s where covered with musical videos mostly inspired by the apartheid in South Africa (SA) to the whitish background and choreographed dance laden videos of the 90’s.
Fast-forward to the present and you’d be amazed by how much our music videos have changed. Back then we couldn’t even phantom (except Fela) a Naija music video gracing the front of a cable channel let alone receiving several international awards. Now we see our artist shooting videos with possibly the best equipment available in the industry, Flashy cars, sexy looking girls (mostly white), bling blings just name it, we have them all in our videos. The only way to probably distinguish between a Naija video and a foreign one is probably if you listen to the song.
Our videos are in so highly revelled in the music industry, every artist jostle to shoot an expensive and quality video even if they have to travel as far as SA to have one. There lies the problem;
The crave for expensive videos abroad is beginning to take its toll on the quality of songs we hear and the work ethics of some of these artists. It’s as if the more money they spend the poorer the content. What has happened to shooting videos here at home? Isn’t it cheaper for them even if they don’t see the overall economic benefits of spending the money within our shores? Or is that we don’t have fine girls here to grace the videos or posh cars that we can hire? Or are our directors here that inept with ideas even if they don’t have the expertise to do a good job at editing? These questions are made even more farfetched for answers as I have seen quality videos shot in Naija mostly inculcating all that they sought for in SA. Some I’ve seen are shot with the most artistic brilliance and concept you could ever dream of even eliminating some of the grandeur and flamboyancy you see in our everyday videos.
Little wonder Nneka’s video (shot here in Naija) is probably the best I’ve seen in months when compared to the proliferated SA videos even though she shot it on the grimy streets of Lagos.
After watching that video and taking in its stride its originality and flawless depiction of a typical Lagos suburb you wonder why they have to travel all d way too shoot a video in a room or by the pool side of a Mansion in SA.
Some are so bare in its concept and delivery you wonder the very essence of throwing away so much time and money all in the bid to belong.
Various sources tell me they spend an average of N2m-N3m on these videos! Some lucky ones get it for free through various forms of ‘barter’. I even heard some simply end up with a little more than their taxi money from the airport on return from shooting these ‘lavish’ videos
So my take is, rather than shooting these ill-conceived videos they should channel the funds into more studio time and acquisition of intellectual property from talented song writers and composers.
It’s a fact that most of the Hit tracks in Naija never became popular because of their outlandish videos, but for the sheer quality of the tracks.
From ‘African Queen’ to ‘Busy Body’ to ‘jailer’ to ‘why me’ to ‘Gongo Aso’ to ‘free madness’! These songs were monster hits and were not merely tracks bolstered by their videos! Rather they made fans yearn to see the videos and love them for what they were! The videos were mostly shot within our shores too.
It’s quite understandable why a lot of artist opt to shoot videos over releasing albums in Nigeria. An album without a video may not see the light of day in terms of radio airplay, mix tapes, DJ’s turn tables etc. However, I believe it all has to do with careful planning from Artist development, to album production, to record distribution, to promotional work and marketing, tours etc that really should help to bring the money. Record Labels must have a strategy (beyond videos) from the outset that will ensure their artist get songs played over the radio and book for interview slots etc.
I’m also not oblivious of the fact that some of them actually shoot these videos to attract the attention of brand hawks and to attain some form of relevance and presence even if it takes another year before their album is released. That too is a faulty judgement as an artist ability to make money from branding is not solely dependent on shooting videos abroad.
Shooting a video in South Africa is also not a sure way to get daily airplay or get a track sold by every single vendor on Lagos roads. It’s more of a stereotype than any of the excuses mentioned above even if some reap from it.
So, next time you see a Naija artist behind the wheels of a right hand drive Bentley in SA don’t be deceived, it’s mostly conformist and unimaginative and it’s more of an attempt to fudge a lifestyle!! That same person behind the Bentley is seen back in Naija at best behind a ‘Tokunbo’ car and at worst inconspicuously hidden in a Keke Marwa. Most of the foreign artist they even copy started out with simplistic but inventive and critically acclaimed videos before making videos depicting their new found fame and wealth.
The Nigerian Music Industry has more than contributed to National growth and “rebranding of Nigeria” than any other sector in the economy. Nigerian music is a major export and source of foreign exchange for the country. We should therefore not allow ourselves to be carried away with neo-colonialists influence by making an otherwise self sustaining industry into one that depends solely on foreign proficiency. We are already seeing this happen in the advertising industry where simple adverts about our heritage and culture are being shot and produce outside our shores.
It’s high time we stopped driving on the right and fronting Caucasian girls even when we are doing videos about a “Nigerian Girl”!