Tag Archives: Ghana Music

“PADDY” by Yasmeen

A song in “Ga’ – ethnic Ghanaian (West African) language. A song about peace and friendship encouraging everyone to grow more LOVE in their hearts. “Paddy” or “Padi” means more than “friend”. It means “close friend”, “bossom friend”, or “buddy”. How would you say this in your language?

Job creation for Ghana’s music industry (Part 2)

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.Β  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 possibilitiesΒ  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:Β  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.





Job creation for Ghana’s music industry

As early as 1965, my father Faisal Helwani identified a huge gap in Ghana’s music and entertainment industry so he tried to fill it. He started out as a music promoter – the guy who puts on the shows. His love and passion for music led him around Ghana; encouraging, supporting, and promoting artists and bands. He broke out into mainstream Africa and landed a promotion deal with Fela Anikulapo Kuti of Nigeria. The two became very close friends and worked on some major projects like ‘The Black President’ film which was tragically cut short by the burning of the entire soundtrack at Fela’s shrine. Some scenes from the original film are currently being used, and I hope, after all the court proceedings and ‘sorting out’.. that the film sees the light of day. My father set up his own record label and opened the famous Napoleon Club and Casino in the early 70’s. ‘Napoleon Club’ became the name of the large house/complex in which we lived. It was right in the heart of Osu, the buzzing heart of Accra. Our home occupied the top floors, the Club/Restaurant/Casino had it’s own entrance from the side street, sound proofing and all; and just next to the club was Studio One which later became Bibini Music. Studio One (Faisal Helwani Productions) – the first professional recording studio in Accra produced records by E.T. Mensah, Agya Koo Nimo, Kobina Okai, Onipa Nua, Kofi Sammy, Guy Warren (Ghanaba), the list goes on and on. My father was fearless. Nothing was too big for him. Everything was too small! Yet he stood at a not-so-high 5ft 4inches. I later realized this might have been his motivation for calling it the Napoleon club πŸ™‚

Within 10 years, Faisal Helwani had not only become THE Ghanaian music industry, he had also created his own Entertainment Empire hosting superstars like Fleetwood Mac, Fela, and even getting an album endorsement by the legendary Brian Eno for the album ‘Pace Setters’ by Edikanfo. Brian Eno’s endorsement led to big show opportunities in the United States where Faisal travelled with the band for shows in top venues like Beverly Hills and New York. He even had time to involve himself in all the latest industry politics that arose with the inception of his brainchild – MUSIGA (Musicians Union of Ghana) and later COSGA (Copyright Owners Society of Ghana). He had arrived. He was on top. But he was not sustainable. The producer was Faisal Helwani. The agent was Faisal Helwani. The promoter was Faisal Helwani. The politician was Faisal Helwani and the spokesperson was also Faisal Helwani. Do you get where this is going? He was great, he was celebrated, but he had also become anxious, stressed and exhausted in more ways than one. At some point in his 5o year long career,Β  he would become outdated, out-smarted, and eventually, out-numbered.

Faisal and Fleetwood Mac

My father’s story is a lesson for every prospective Entertainment Mogul. Make it sustainable! At some point in our music industry we must create industry jobs to ensure healthy growth in the music industry. We have progressed considerably over the last 10 years with a rise in the ‘manager count’ thanks to the emergence of new acts and trends. Still, most of the time, you find Artists multi-tasking and doubling up as their own promoters/agents which inevitably drags down their value. Many artists are creative but not necessarily the best negotiators or business people. they end up striking bad deals, not doing enough fore-planning, and next thing you know, they are flopping at one show or the other.

It’s time we take our music industry a little more seriously than just putting it off as ‘this playful thing called music’. We are not even properly represented in the Ghanaian constitution. If it weren’t for my father’s parliamentary wars we probably would still be operating under replica clauses from the PNDC rule! We need to create jobs and we the artists need to help sustain these jobs by growing creatively, dedicating ourselves to our music, and working hard on our Art. That is what an artist is supposed to do not run around radio stations trying to lobby to get their song on air! Don’t even get me started.

In my next post I will talk more about the individual job descriptions, and how to go about starting a career in the music industry. One love.