A Tale of Entitlement: A Case Study Of Ghana’s Music Industry
The land of Red, Gold, and Green has always been a home of great creativity, artistry, and talent. For the many things Ghana is known for, our contribution to the arts ranks at the topmost. Over the years, we have had different creatives whose contributions have contributed to the growth of the arts in Ghana and Africa as a whole. From film, photography, fashion, creative writing, painting, and music, Ghana’s place at the table can never be denied. The geographical land called Ghana, in my estimation, is the nucleus of and diffuser of culture across the continent.
However, recent happenings make it seem like Ghana is being left behind. For all the love I have had for creatives in Ghana, one thing I have grown a dislike for is the entitlement those in the creative space possess. Perhaps, this sense of entitlement has always been a thing and I am just noticing the traits because of my proximity to some of these creatives.
In this article, I will share my opinion on why entitlement in itself is not a bad thing, but the constant use of it by our artistes as a bargaining chip is in bad taste.
First off, no one can deny the amount of talent in the country. I have heard, seen, and experienced amazing talents across various art forms. It is beautiful to create art and share it with the world. However, in the sharing of this art, it is important to understand that, the consumer independently chooses whose art they want to consume, and also, how they consume it. If for anything you want people to consume yours over others, position yourself to get that attention.
The truth is that people will get the music to consume with or without you. No matter how good you believe your product is, there are others that are twice as good. For every stream you get, someone is losing out.
That is how the system is.
That is what competition breeds and the consumer is not to be blamed. After all, support comes at a cost. While you enjoy the support, someone else is losing out on it. So, before you get all cocky and go on a rant, ask yourself if you are doing enough to earn the support or sustain that support you think or assume you deserve. Ask yourself if you are positioning yourself at places where you will attract more support than you already have. There are a lot of things that go into attracting, sustaining, and growing support from all angles. The least on that list is being entitled.
From where I sit, I have seen some Ghanaians doing the bare minimum but expecting maximum returns. Since the change in music consumption – from the CD era to the digital/streaming era, I have constantly heard artists sit on radio, TV, or via social media talk chambers (spaces, clubhouse) lamenting the lack of support for their arts, and how people have slept on their creations. But, you listen further and as a discerning person, you realize how they haven’t even done the barest minimum to earn support.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the country’s finest was on Twitter talking about how he does not have to send out emails to bloggers when he has a new song because Drake does not send out emails but our bloggers still publish stories about him. This is true, but very laughable because one would think an artiste of his calibre would know that Drake has a team working and sending out pitches on his behalf and our bloggers down here are only sourcing. Also, artistes like Drake and those within the same bracket as him don’t even need to send out pitches. Drake is news. Whatever he does, whether privately or publicly would get attention. Besides, blogs or websites don’t owe you any favour. If you need them to cover your activities, make them interested in your work.
But, one very important point being missed by ‘’one of the country’s finest’’ is that Drake built and leveraged relationships, sent out pitches to blogs, websites when he was an emerging artiste, including growing a support base. After a decade and more, he is gaining from the work he put in years ago when he had no beard. This attitude of comparing oneself with global superstars and demanding to be treated as such by some of our guys without putting in the work is crazyyyyyy.
That sense of entitlement fucking stinks.
Sarkodie for all this reach still has someone in his team or people in his team always sending out pitches. You cannot sit there and assume that you will release music and then it automatically moves everywhere. You need to reach out and touch base with stakeholders who would then put your product out.
We sit here and claim Nigerians are taking our opportunities but we are doing very little in taking advantage of these same opportunities. We constantly dwell on the negative and overlook positive. Artistes want Wizkid level of fame and success but have not done a quarter of what Wiz had done and continues to do.
Have you seen the management team around him? Do you have what it takes to assemble such calibre of people to run your affairs?
We have been fortunate to have a government that has done a lot in making this country a hotspot for tourism and the arts. We have had big players in today’s global music space come to the country to hold this or that event but creatives would always be missing from these events. Musicians are not learning on the job, and are not building proper relationships and networking enough to build up their status. I wonder how people want to enjoy Davido and Burna Boy like stardom but are not willing to respect the terms of deals they sign with labels and brands.
A lot can be said on this topic but I would keep my words short and simple. Until our artists and their teams build capacity for growth, they should not expect us to constantly support them. If they fail to level up, they will sit here and foreigners that are doing the needful will come here and get all the love. Sadly, it is happening.
At the end of the day, you decided to make music, you decided to put the music out and that is the same way the consumer decide what music they want to listen to and whom they want to support. If you want the consumers’ support, prove to them that you need their support. Your support is not with anyone, no one is going to support you mainly because you are a Ghanaian. Nobody would love your work more than yourself. Not even your family members.
Shed off that entitlement and get your hands dirty.
Written By: Nana Kojo Mula, a publicist and music critic. He tweets at @NanaKojoMula