Commercial Music and the Nigerian Mentality

Another lazy afternoon for me, don’t blame me, the rain has been pouring since like for ever. Ok so am on my bed with my headphones, off course playing Nigerian music and singing along. Then it occurred to me, commercial music and the Nigerian mentality. So I decided to do this article based on my small knowledge and understanding of the issue.

I remember this particular day I tweeted something like “Dbanj is commercial, so is Asa”. Off course, knowing twitter for what it is, I got different re tweets. Some people annoyingly k’d my tweet obviously because they didn’t understand what my point was and were too proud to ask what I meant, however some really smart ones understood my point and agreed with me. Also I got some insults as well, you know Nigerians now, they read different meanings to the tweet. One specifically told me I was a fool for comparing Asa and Dbanj .

Now let me ask you:  is Asa really commercial? Can we use that same word “commercial” that we use on artistes like Dbanj also on people like Asa? Before you answer that question, take a few more minutes to read my view about all this below.

Firstly, I would like to state that “commercial music” is not a genre of music. Because most times I hear stuffs like “he has gone commercial” or “he now does commercial music” etc. . . .

Now let’s define the word “commercialize” *runs to consult his dictionary*

  1. To apply business methodology to something in order to profit
  2. To exploit something for maximum gain, sometimes by sacrificing quality.

Did you notice the bolded part in the second definition? Aha yes, that’s exactly where the problem is, Sacrificing Quality for maximum gain. Now let’s relate that to music, majority of our Nigerian artistes nowadays would gladly sacrifice musical content, relevance, sensible lyrics, just to sell their music and make gain. Do I blame them? Yes and No. Yes because not all of them have business doing music, many of them lack the basic talent of music. No, because we all have been made to believe that if music is not done in a particular way, if won’t sell and also the “record label” factor is a key factor.

Music is done for different purposes and aimed at different audiences, but it should be noted that all kinds of music have its own audience, people who will do anything to hear the kind of music they like. But off course, the bigger audience is always the party music kind of audience, little wonder why artistes who do such music are classified as commercial artistes and that way also bastardize the word “commercialize”, as we tend to associate the word with music that lack content.

But then again, let’s look deeper at the definition of “commercialize” as I quoted above, it has the words “gain” and “profit” in it right? That takes me to my next question. How many of the artistes who do party tracks make profits? Or let me say, how many of them dan blow? Your guess is as good as mine. That particular aspect of music that seems like the fastest way out to make profit or to blow is already saturated! Everybody is doing that kind of music, so obviously the market already has so many suppliers, leaving the other forms of music/market to starve (wondering what I mean by the other market? My next paragraph will explain that).

Back to my definition again “To exploit something for maximum gain”. In this case, we are talking music, so the bolded part above will only relate to the music fans, music market and audience. So let’s redefine it with music terms. “To exploit the music market for maximum gain”. Like I stated in my last paragraph, the party music market already has too many suppliers, and the market is saturated with that kind of music. This is where the wise artistes come in, and this is where the talented artistes show their talents. This is where artistes like 9ice, Asa, 2face and so on come in. this is where originality comes in, this is where an artiste gets to study the other available markets and decided to do something different and turn out to be a king of that market.

Commercial music doesn’t mean doing party songs, it doesn’t mean following the bandwagon in doing a particular kind of music, in fact if you check well you will notice that it is usually the first artistes that comes with a unique style that makes the most gain and profit, all other copy cats usually get to be second best.

Being commercial with your music simply means: studying the large music market, picking out your own kind of market and giving them the best you can offer and trust me, you will be king of your own niche.

Checkout 9ice, he’s unarguably the king of his own kind of music and he’s very commercial, because he sells. Also check out Asa’s kind of music, she is also unarguably the best in Nigeria with her style of music, and she’s also commercial because she sells and trust me people will pay anything to attend her shows. The same thing goes for Dbanj, Wizkid, Terry g, they all have carved a niche for themselves in the Nigerian music market, they have their own fans that will gladly but their works and attend their shows.

The danger of following the bandwagon is that, people will always pick the originator over you, people tend to label you as a copycat, people tend to label you as talentless and off course you won’t get the full dividends of your effort compared to having your own style and your own market.

I guess now you will understand what I mean when I say “D’banj is commercial, so also is Asa”




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26 thoughts on “Commercial Music and the Nigerian Mentality”

  1. Nice questions,, how many of em don rily blow???? We need songs dat can motivate, inspire, and enlighten, not jus  noise we hear every where,, we shld stop doin songs dat will fade/die after 3months,, or wen der is a new dance step,,, we need artist, dat hav personality and content,, ,,,, how many of em can boast of a career dat will last more Dan oNE album????? Most of em,, their careers die wiff their hit track,, not kull,

  2. i’m very happy that some Nigerians still “think”. commercial just means “sell-able”. But Nigerian artistes have made it to mean “mediocrity”. Thanks for this piece!

  3. Me likey much much…If you focus on the style or music-feel u’re best at in the best way you can, even in an industry that is completely drenched in mediocrity, you’ll stand out. This is what we (artists i.e.) should aim at most of all. Plus Tosin, dis is really good stuff 🙂 God bless you

  4. Well said Tosin. It’s not like our musicians don’t know what is right but everybody just want to make money. This is food for thought to the ones who are ready to make amends, it’s good for the growth of the industry. God bless u.

  5. Very nice write up. Some intelligent people understood ur point even before U wrote this. Its so shameful some people have blindly attached sentiments to music.
    Keep up d work jare

  6. Well said. I know naija music has made waves all over the world, however im not a big fan as I am yet to be impressed by the likes of dbanj and 9ice – I soley prefer Asa because she is amazjngly original. Unless you go to a bar and sing for free or for charity, you are a ‘commercial’ music artiste; as long as it is done for profit.

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