Do artistes still care for airplay? It’s funny, I noticed that, as the number of upcoming artistes in Nigeria increases, the less we hear their music on the radio. Even though there isn’t any official statistic confirming a decrease in the amount of their content on the FM, it’s quite evident. All you need to do is listen to the radio and confirm for yourself.
I spend a lot of time in the studio and over the years I’ve worked with so many upcoming artistes in Nigeria. I remember a time when an upcoming artiste would finish producing his/her song and start looking for contacts of radio DJs and OAPs, all in a bid to get some radio airplay for their newly recorded single. Back in the day, many of the upcoming artistes I knew showed a lot of eagerness to get their songs played on radio, believing that it was the very next step to musical success. They would ask me or whoever they could for contacts and excitedly take their music to the radio station(s) of their choice. Many of them would also speak to me about their first meetings with radio DJs and OAPs. They would speak about how friendly (or unfriendly) they are and also speak about the dreaded PAYOLA.
Things are different nowadays, thanks mainly to the explosion of social media in Nigeria, more specifically, Instagram. I still work with many upcoming artistes in Nigeria and I have come to notice that as they finish recording their music, the first place they exhibit it is on the gram. They make short video clips with their phones right there in the studio as their song plays in the background and they post it immediately. I noticed that many of them demand for cover designs as soon as their songs are mixed and attach their music to it, then post it up as well, directing their fans to the link in their bio if they want to download the full song. Not many of them are talking about radio airplay anymore.
Instagram has turned the game on it’s head, it has shown the upcoming artistes in Nigeria possibly a better (or at least cheaper) way to get their music to their target audience. I know quite a few new artistes who have become Instagram celebrities, gathering as many as 50k — 100k followers over a 2 to 3 year period of constantly releasing their music on that platform.
The radio stations don’t seem to catch the fancy of the upcoming artistes in Nigeria anymore. They are too expensive and don’t have the kind of reach Instagram has. So, would you blame them? Who wouldn’t want to be in control of his/her career? Why place your hopes on a radio DJ or OAP that would “slit” your throat with his/her demands when you can control the promotion of your music using your mobile device and Instagram account? Seems like a better deal, especially when they know these radio DJs and OAPs might just spin their tracks once or twice then dump it, especially if they feel the artiste didn’t “settle” them well enough.
For now, Instagram seems like the way to go for the upcoming artistes in Nigeria. It gives them a platform to dish out as much musical content as they can without paying heavily for it, while gradually building up a strong and authentic fan base that they can directly connect with.