Many times more than sixty percent of what we enjoy when we hear a song is the producer’s work, not the artiste. But guess who gets chicken change as pay, and little or no recognition for their effort… The Producer.
Unlike what many people outside the “circle” think, the entertainment industry is a “crazy” place.
Those who put in most of the work to make an artiste popular and relevant remain in the shadows, while the artiste who in most cases puts in less than 40% gets all the glory and fame. Especially in a country like ours where vocal dexterity and lyrical content has little or no import in the music scene. Maybe that’s why it is called Showbiz, not talentbiz; the business of showing people what they want to see, while hiding what truly goes on.
Truly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the above system as long as everyone gets their due share of respect and financial return. Garbage in, garbage out, and everyone who isn’t a greedy maniac should be satisfied. But this is not what happens, is it?
Whenever you listen to a hit song, eg “Woju” the first thing that comes to your mind is the highly intoxicating beat, next, the artiste on it right? But do you know the producer of the song Dj Coublon? Did you know Dr Amir produced the sensation “Reggae Blues” or Reinhard “Bad Belle”vby M.I? Or Vtek “Shekini”? I’m very sure not a lot of people are familiar with that name.
Only a few producers like Don Jazzy, Sarz, and Id Kabasa, command as much popularity as the artistes with whom they work, even then they are not given nearly as much due as they truly deserve.
As much as many of our entertainers are praiseworthy, having put in a lot of hours and work into their music, a lot more are guilty of rubbishing the efforts of their producers with measly pay, and little or no recognition for their producer’s creative input.
At least 60% of the sound output, vocal quality, and many times lyrical content of songs, are a product of the Producer’s effort not the artist. Only a few of our musicians today can boast of having a sound Knowledge of music and production techniques enough to make a hit song on their own.
As many stage performances have shown, many of our artistes cannot confidently command the same presence in person, like they do on their audio tracks. Often times they lip sync to their own song, riding the wave of their producer’s talent, with little or no effort made at actually performing live.
As we can see, the Producers are responsible for the success of an artiste on and off stage, but when we look at their lives, we see how less financially successful and respectable they are than the artiste. Only a few of them can actually boast of living comfortably with their car and house the product of the finances gotten from their craft. This is even though they might have produced one of the biggest songs of that year.
This problem exists because most artistes are not willing to pay proportionately to work they demand. They directly or indirectly convey that they are giving a platform to these young producers, while milking them of their talent and making millions in return. To worsen things, many of these producers attended some of the finest music schools in and outside the country to study their craft, but because “half bread is better than akara,” they rather work with these artistes for little pay and a shout out on the song, rather than remain unknown.
Ranging from Jingles to skits, movie soundtracks, instrumentals on commercials, and live performances, music producers play an invaluable role in the entertainment scene and should be given much more respect than they are currently getting. Even the big artistes are not excluded because they are the ones who rip off these producers the most, offering them next to nothing for their works.
Artistes need to start paying for the services they demand from these producers, and not stop expecting a cheap price for invaluable talent. Per song, per album, and per skit or track, it’s high time producers get paid better. Then maybe we might experience a true revolution in the Nigerian music scene.
The producers on their part can also help themselves by having an arrangement where they get commissions and royalties from a song depending on its success, having an organised association to charge standard rates for producing, employ effective managers who secure lucrative deals for them other than with artistes, and employ lawyers to safeguard their copyrights.
This is not to say that the newbies in the game shouldn’t pay their dues in the industry, but a workman has to feed and take care of his family’ and once one has proven himself, it shouldn’t be so easy to exploit them.
Artistes are doing a marvelous job with their talent, so are producers. Producers truly deserve respect from everybody. Most importantly from artistes, who can show this by paying accordingly and readily for every job they get done.