At MEXN Masterclass Organised By Inspiro Music Experts Brainstorm On Placing Nigerian Music On World Map

To the teaming rising Nigerian music artists, mentoring has continued to be a great issue. Also, lack of exposure to trends in the music industry internationally is said to be greatly militating again their development and growth.
Creative Industry Consultant and Showbiz promoter, Mr. Ayoola Sadare is among several other stakeholders in the entertainment industry who lose sleep over these drawbacks as well as several other challenges. Recently, his outfit Inspiro Productions organized a one-day training for musicians and entertainment industry stakeholders.

The training aims to address some of the challenges upcoming entertainers face in attracting desired national and international attention as well as taking their works to the level it deserves. The masterclass came under what was tagged, Music Export Nigeria (MEXIN). Sadare stated that MEXIN was birthed visits to several European countries. The visits he said, afforded him first-hand insight into the current global best practices in the creative and cultural industry.  Also, he disclosed that the initiative seeks to find ways to prepare and empower more Nigerian Artists and musicians to see their crafts as export materials as is done through Music Export Offices in other countries.

Sadare who is founder, Lagos International Music Festival LIJF noted that music is a strong cultural expression that showcases a country’s identity, adding that musicians are invariably, cultural ambassadors. This he said, is evident “on the numerous festivals, show and event platforms globally where a lot of acts from various countries are well represented. But, representation from Nigeria is not appreciable”. For the training, the entertainment expert assembled a host of other entertainment gurus to impart on participating artists and musicians.  These include; Performing Musicians Association, Mr. Pretty Okafor and Mr. Matthew Ohio who is CEO, EI Carnaval and founder, Industry Nite Nigeria. Others includes; the Founder, Ten String Music Institute & Black Fragrance Nigeria, the Director, SPAN Academy of Jazz and Contemporary music,  Mr. Bright Gain and Tope Sadiq, Content Director, Freedom Hall.

In his session, the PMAN President said it is needful for upcoming artists and musicians to create a distinct identity for themselves. He urged them to be unique, drift away from the norm and refrain from being boring. He encouraged young artists to invest and believe in themselves. Another quality which he said is necessary for entertainers to grow is stagemanship. Okafor asserted that Nigeria has got “more performing artists who can represent the whole of African. But, we have to get it right”. He described a musician as an intellectual and international, even as he charged them to “know the truth, reveal the truth and stand by the truth”.
In his lecture titled: musicians Without Borders, Akapo regretted that Nigeria with the population of about 180m, music export is yet, insignificant. He stated that there are steps and processes to be taken for practitioners to get to the top. He listed a couple of militating factors that have hindered the development, growth and export of Nigerian music. These he said, are “lack of government sponsorship for community, state and even carnivals instituted by the central government, lack of grants for local Arts groups, there are no robust policies and framework to support artist”. “For instance, the need to protect intellectual properties. Does an average judge care about protecting intellectual property? What does the judge know about intellectual property? Does the average judge in Nigeria understand about intellectual property? At best, when an artist cries about his intellectual work, the Nigerian judge would simply say; ehh, go and make another work! It is as bad as that”. Speaking from his wealth of experience in the promoting the creative and cultural industry both locally and internationally, Emmanuel Akapo contended that the time has come to restructure music management in the country. He held that the industry will be better if more businessmen and technocrats are given the opportunity to manage the sector. 

He raised some points on growing Nigeria’s musical content and exporting same. “There is need to build the network. We need to export Nigeria music across Africa. This is pertinent. We do not have the platform to sell what we have in Nigeria. The musicians have to come together. We have never had a government that has set up a structure for the entertainment/creative industry to thrive. 

Ask Buhari what is the prospect in music, he does not know”. He condemned the fast-track tendencies in money-making and contended that, “in Nigeria, there are three major ways of making quick money –religious, political and stealing”. He further gave some recipes through which artist and musicians can create and build irresistible brands. These he said, include the artists creating and offering the international community local content, spiced with African rhythm including the percussion. The dances, costumes must be laced with a touch of Africanism. And then, build a magical stage craft. He urged them to build a platform and be willing to give out. “You can’t build a platform without giving. Win locally –seek opportunities to perform locally. Then, strive to grow authentic fan base. Test the waters and work to promote globally. Finally, connect with professional international promoters. But, you must make quality recorded music with a minimum of three songs. And prepare a professional personal biography”.     

Speaking, Gain gave five qualities of a good creative artist and musician. These are listening. He described the power to listen is an important life skill, essential to all aspects of playing. “It is most important fundamental for musicianship. You must create a tone. Tone is your unique selling point. There must be articulation, another is rhythm and time. “These are inseparable. There must be harmony too. This is the relationship between sounds. If you are a musician, grow in the dynamism of music and master it”.

Ohio asserted that, “Nigeria music is the biggest export product we have now; bigger than oil. There are a lot of good things happening to Nigeria music”. He pointed that some musicians like Whizkid, Davido & Burna Boy were signed up to major international labels and making Nigeria proud. He also said Musicians should not only look up to Europe and America to tour but also neighbouring African Countries. He stressed also on the strain between the quality of musicianship and business aspect of music and how to balance them as a promoter and businessman. He rounded up by being encouraged and upbeat about what Nigerian musicians are doing with the music.  

Further, Sadare recounted his experiences during his European tour, and reeled out the benefits in foreign collaborations. First, he gave reasons why Nigeria is yet, not raking in maximized foreign income from the creative and cultural industry. “The creative and cultural industry is on the rise. But, why are there few Nigerian musicians on the international scene? “First, there is no deliberate government incentive to grow this industry. Secondly, mentor-protégée relationship is lacking. 

The older ones have not mentored or introduced the younger ones into the scene. Another is inadequate training of artist and taking them abroad.  There is the identity crisis –you’re your significance is not in your similarity with another; it is in your difference”.  Sadare reeled out the gains of exporting Nigerian and by extension, African music to the Western world. “The artists themselves must do proper packaging of themselves and their brands. They must do studio shots from time to time. They must do a biography to be made available at all times. They must have a record or three recent tracks as well as recording of their performances. These are to be made available at the point of request.”

On the foreign music partnership initiative which occasioned his overseas tour, he revealed that contracts were signed between music firms, musical/show promoters, cultural organizations etc. and it involves musical exchanges between Nigeria’s music and other creative artists. He said the contract consists mainly of a 60 percent Jazz music and 40 percent of other genres. He invited all in the creative and cultural industry to be part of it, saying, “the imperative at this point with the rapid growth of our creative and cultural industries with music playing a huge role is to give increasing global recognition and acceptance is that we must also prepare and get more of our indigenous and home-based musicians international visibility.  “This will be through record deals, performance at the numerous international venues, festivals and events globally and other things to enhance their crafts. A big kudos to the ones already doing so and representing. But there is a need for more”.

A cross section of participants described the MEXN Masterclass as most revealing, empowering and encouraging and called on all stakeholders in the entertainment, creative and cultural sector to buy into the project.

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