Live Events Industry and How Artists Can Capitalize on the Space
Witnessing an artist you love and adore perform your favourite song in person, or from afar always sparks a different type of emotion in you. During the festive season, especially in December, we get to see a lot of our favourite artistes across various musical concerts but the intimacy at such concerts can not be compared to the intimacy fans get when the artiste’s stages his/her own show. Although a difficult thing to pull off, it is never impossible.
As a fan who enjoys live music performances, I have always applauded acts that pull this off especially at the beginning of their career. At this point one may be wondering why it is important for an artist to headline their own shows when they are already being billed for performances every other day. This article will provide an insight into why headlining your own show as an artist does more for you and your career trajectory .
Just like the arms of a government or parts of the human body, the live events industry is a part of the music industry as a whole. As a musician, recording and dropping is not the only aspect of the music space you should be concerned about. There is the publishing, touring, marketing/distribution and live events facet of the business you should take seriously. The events aspect of the space consists of a number of things including touring and booking for performances at shows, festivals and concerts. As much these facets contribute greatly to an artist’s portfolio, this writer believes, when all is said and done, it is imperative for the artist to host their own events or shows.
Why? Here is why.
Headlining your own event or concert allows for continuity and top of mind awareness. For many artists who may not have the luxury of having hit songs every year, and thus having the clout around them to be booked for the big shows and festivals, one thing that guarantees them continuity is their own shows. For context, when LaMeme Gang blew up in 2017/18 – quickly becoming the hottest collective in the nation – they took advantage of their rising fame and goodwill to stage their first event ‘’CRUSADE’’. Two years into their reign, a member of the collective $pacely hosted his own event ‘’MerchMania’’ to celebrate music, fashion, food and various creative artforms.
Years down the line when LaMeme Gang declined as an active Collective, $pacely, although not the hottest artist in town, continues to host his Merch Mania event, which has become a tool to advance his career and brand among his youthful fan base. Another emerging artist who is doing great on this circuit is Marince Omario with his annual ‘’Gbonyo Party’’ event. What excites and intrigues me the most about Marince Omario is the fact that he has no hit song unlike some of his compatriots., yet he has been able to cultivate a dedicated core fans that show up to his event each year, despite the limited resources at his disposal.
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Older artistes like Kojo Antwi and Daddy Lumba, who have been inactive for years continue to host their respective 24th December Night concerts largely off their stupendous catalogues. With careers spanning about three decades, these veteran artists have built, cultivated and continue to attract new fans with their songs. Their status, brand value and timeless discographies continue to attract huge business brands to associate themselves with their annual concerts. Other established artists like Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, M.anifest continue to sell out venues for their annual music events. Their success stories have inspired younger artists such as King Promise, Gyakie, Fameye and recently, Black Sherif to follow in their footsteps.
As an artist, continuity is very important and you either get that through churning out hits or playing shows. However, if your songs are not topping charts or buzzing across the country, the chances of you being billed for some of the big shows are dwarfed; thus, the need for young, emerging artists to have their own events, bond with their fans, develop relationships with other creative people in different sectors as well as exchange ideas. This continuity sustains the growth of the artists while solidifying the relationships with their audience numbers.
In 2018 when I attended PressKit by Asquad at BBNZ, I noticed a small number of people in attendance. Four years down the line, Marince Omario hosted his ”Gbonyo Party” concert and the turnout was twice the number I saw in 2018. A good show will always draw in new audiences which translates to increase in monthly listeners on streaming platforms.
Another important reason is, events are a source generating funds. It is an established truth that most artists in Ghana generate funds to support their craft through concerts. Considering that the streaming culture is still new, though some top ranked artists are making good amount of money, many do not make enough to cover their overhead cost. As such, events become one of the reliable revenue generating options available to most artists.
Events grounds should not only be a place to perform. They are places to sell your merchandise as well. It is why I get excited anytime young artists like Marince Omario and Essilfie announce their own shows. Artists should start building interest towards their upcoming events from the beginning of the year. Social media platforms exist for such build-ups at a cheaper cost. That’s why I find artists who do not engage with fans except via retweets unbelievable. Partnering with designers to create limited edition merchandise and sell online (via your own website) is a thing for artists to explore. Don’t wait till 2 weeks before your show to promote. Nobody will take you seriously if you do take that approach.
Tied to artists generating funds through their own shows is the creation of an experience. The Ghanaian concert goer has become sophisticated lately. They don’t attend your events because they are just fans. They want to see their favourite putting up a real performance. To sell them an experience. Thus, the need for artists to be deliberate with their own shows- from curation to execution. Having your own event offers you the freedom to express yourself in lieu with your brand aesthetic. During Ria Boss’ recent show, she created a stage and a set that represented her mark as an artist (The photo used is courtesy KwesiBabaPhoto). The direction of the show complimented the artist who has been gaining a lot of attention over the previous years and months. There are brands who support artists not because they have hits but how their artistic outlook resonates with their business brand values.
Every artist has a few songs which are cult favorites which they do not get to perform at other shows they are billed on. Majority of these songs are either from previous phases of the artist or not so popular songs. During such shows, the artiste is at liberty to have that intimate moment with his fans as they go through the various phases of the artiste’s career. If you have attended Worlasi’s ‘’Worlafes’’ concert, you would appreciate the level of intimacy between artist and fans. The energy, bond, and connection is very present.
Hosting shows is not an easy task. A lot goes into it- from a suitable venue, logistics, ticketing, promotion, and many other equally important but costly additions. These costs are a major reason why many artists stay away from hosting their own events. However, there organizations that support such initiatives through funding or partnerships. I knew Alliance Francaise used to offer support for artists who host events at their venue. Though event grounds are not as numerous as they were some few years ago, it is good to see new spots that can host between a few hundreds of fans to a thousand springing up. If you cannot fund the first few editions on your own, you can sign partnership agreements which will ease your burden. Remember to adhere to all the benchmarks in the agreements.
At the end of the day, not everyone may be able to pull off hosting their own concerts, but it would do our artists some good if we can encourage them to host events to help grow the events culture in the country. Artistes within the gospel music space have always been at the forefront of hosting their own events compared to the very few in the circular scene, though that seems to be changing. This year, we have seen many artists headlining their own shows. It’s a good start for all. That’s how you leverage your brand and value. POWER TO Y’ALL.
Article By: Nana Kojo Mula. He tweets at @NanaKojoMula