Almost every morning on the radio we hear music advocates on radio screaming about unfairness and injustice in the Ghanaian music industry. The truth is, if we educate ourselves and make our own personal changes towards empowerment, many of these conversations will become boring and pointless. The power is within you.
Let’s go back to the basics. Take your mind back to when the ‘music industry’ idea first began to take shape. When we simply had musicians, entertainers, instrumentalists, clowns, puppet masters .. All they had to do was stand in a public place and do what they do best. They would draw the attention of passers-by, and if they were spectacular they would win favor from the crowd expressed through applause, gifts, money, and invitations to other social events. With time, these artists/entertainers began to appoint representatives and managers, promoters and agents.. The music industry was born.
Just like many other things within human culture and practice, we have modernized, commercialized, and are now globalizing our music industries. It’s actually as simple as the paragraph above, however, it does begin to get slightly complicated when you take into account all the possibilities presented by the growing media (both traditional and non-traditional), and growing technology. Along with these, the music business has grown; peaking in the 1980’s, and now seeing a decline in traditional industry incomes thanks to the internet revolution.
Currently in Ghana, there is a huge spike in the number of aspiring entertainers along with some amazing new talent. We need to begin to create the jobs needed to ensure that these talented acts are presented via the right platforms, to the right audiences, for the right price, at the right time. This is where music meets business. An artist is an artist and must be committed to their art to be able to grow it and improve it. An artist needs constant inspiration and empowerment to be able to express themselves therefore they need support and good PR so they can be free to do what they do best.
Next time someone asks you if you think a music industry job could be right for you, think outside the box. ‘Music industry job’ doesn’t mean you need to be the one up there singing the songs or playing the guitar. You could work your whole life in the music industry behind the scenes! Networking, co-ordinating, promoting, writing, taking pictures, or doing what your passion allows you to express. Sometimes, simply having a very good friend who possesses a strong talent could be your entry into the music industry! Until the artist/entertainer reaches a certain level of popularity, it is possible to even multi-task and fill more than one position for example you could be manager, promoter, and agent all at the same time. Music industry jobs are unique in the sense that they become tailored specifically to the artist(s) you are dealing with.
The Promoter: You put on the shows and make sure everyone hears about them. Today event companies are doing the job of the promoter, so depending on the artist’s budget, an event/PR company is sometimes hired to handle this side of the business.
The Agent: You are well connected with event companies, record labels, other artists and bands, and look for great opportunities for your artist.
The Manager: You are in charge of over-all welfare of your artist and usually are in charge of negotiations and business affairs. The manager is there with the artist at all show times, making sure the artist is well represented and well taken care of. Managers usually earn between 10 – 15% of the artist’s income (as agreed in a contract).
The Record Label: You are responsible for recording and publishing works by the artist, and for matters regarding royalties, copyright etc.
The Industry Writer (Press Attache) : You write articles mainly about the music industry. You do reviews and feature various artists, labels, and shows in your articles.
The Biographer: Usually someone with audio-visual experience who will go everywhere with the artist, and especially if the artist is popular, the biographer will document photos, video, and all information related to the artist’s career.
There are more jobs that can be created as an artist grows, therefore the most important factor becomes the growth of the artist! If a group of professionals team up to support an artist, it is the ultimate success of the artist that will lead to the success of the entire team.
Food for thought.