This is a piece by Obinna Agwu titled ‘#BOM: The Case Of Waje vs The Industry’, an interesting read. See his thoughts below:
Following the release of the now popular “Music is not for me” rant by the amazingly gifted Waje, I’d like to address a couple of matters arising from the said video. Now, Waje may or may not have been serious about leaving the industry as she made believe in her viral video but one thing is clear, she meant a lot of what she said and that’s why I’m going to address a couple of the issues I personally have with the video for the benefit of up and coming artistes especially.
The biggest problem I had with the video was the inordinate amount of entitlement that I felt Waje exhibited through her words and disposition. Let me make this clear, the industry does not owe you shit because you think you make a certain kind of music, “good music” as some people like to call it, or because of how long you have been in the industry, or because of your amazing voice or for any other reason. Absolutely not! This industry is called the music business for an obvious reason, it is a business. You are not just making music, you’re in the music business and if you know anything about business you know that the customer is king and the customer is right! It, therefore, behooves you to make your music and promote your music in such a way that it is able to hold the attention of enough customers to make it viable, otherwise you’re not in business. This is why when Waje said, “People wey say make I drop album where are they now”, I was like, you gotta be kidding me! I don’t even want to really unpack how I feel about that statement but let me say this: Dear artiste, never ever blame your customer, ever! This situation is similar to people who say stuff like, “Nigerians don’t like conscious music” or “See, he has made conscious music now and nobody is showing him support o”. Well, much as I hate to break this to you but whether you make conscious, sub-conscious or pangolo music, the music gotta be interesting, indeed, you gotta be interesting, else your shit is DOA. You must work hard to earn, and most importantly, keep your spot in the hearts of music lovers or you lose it. Don’t think that just because you sing about whatever important topic you think you’re singing about or you have an amazing voice people will automatically queue at your front door to buy your music from now till 2050, fa fa fa foul!
Secondly, I have seen a lot of comments suggesting that Waje is in the position she is because she is a woman and the industry is unfair to women and all that stuff, but nothing could be further from the truth. Is the industry easier to navigate for men than women, yes! Is that the main reason Waje is in the position she is, NO! Are there male artistes who are in similar position as Waje and worse? YES! Are there pop artistes who are in similar straits as Waje, YES! See, to paraphrase that legendary quote, “let’s not attribute to ‘the industry’ what can be easily explained by middling management and complacency.” The industry is not “doing” Waje, or 9ice or Iyanya or any of the other artistes in similar situations, the absence of a consistent, strategic, and nimble management has largely been their bane. And I’m not just referring to their managers, I’m also talking about self-management on the part of the artistes. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”, I’m a firm believer that you are reaping today the fruits of your actions and inactions of the last 5 years, but many of us, especially artistes, appear to be innately incapable of grasping this concept. If we are being honest, Waje has had a good run in the industry, and she has definitely had some good fortune too. So, the question is not whether the industry has been good to her, it has. The real question is how has she parlayed her successes and good fortune to even greater success and relevance in the industry? I’d say not well enough.
For instance, Waje was a coach on The Voice Nigeria, primetime TV, for 2 years straight, what did she do with that massive opportunity? I’d say zilch, and I stand to be corrected. To be fair, I don’t think any of the other coaches fared any better. Anybody in business, and I mean any business, knows that that amount of airtime is GOLD. Unfortunately, they let the opportunity go to waste because they and their teams weren’t prepared. Just imagining what Brymo or Adekunle Gold might have done with that kind of opportunity gives me a frisson of delight. See what Brymo has achieved already, in spite of all the challenges he has had to surmount in his career. Brymo has never gotten an endorsement deal from any of the major Telecoms companies, nor has he been on any media platform nearly as big and valuable as The Voice Nigeria yet see has done creditably well with his career by sheer force of will and hardwork. Brymo has less than 70k followers on IG while Waje has over a million, but Waje has not held any solo concert, filled with the kind of crowd, of paying fans nonetheless, that Brymo is able to conjure up for Organized Chaos yearly.
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Obinna Agwu is a compulsive lover of music, Talent Manager, Music Business Executive, Adviser to Labels and Talents and the author of The Mob’s Take and BOM Series.