The other day I asked what Kenyan music needs and guys were in the comments talking about the artists, their music and how this or that industry player really isn’t doing much to support their art. Sometimes I’m tempted to say, you, as an artist don’t really need them. I mean, it would be much cooler if these people respected the artistry and the process, money, blood, sweat and tears (sometimes) it takes to create the art you present to the world and in turn automatically showed their supported but that demand and/or expectation for A, B, C is a bit extreme.
You know your goals, you know what you need to achieve so do you, grind hard AF!
About three weeks ago I started #RubysFeatureFridays and the response has been crazy and I’m really appreciative of it but work doesn’t stop when I put the artists on here. They also gotta keep sharing and tagging guys to check out their music. That’s the only way it’s gonna get to more people, the only way you could have the opportunity to add more listeners thus growing your fan base. I let everyone that features know beforehand and we have to discuss and agree to all the terms. I’ve done the 80% of the work, all you gotta do is share.
So last week I asked artist X why they weren’t generating a conversation on their music as agreed and all they had to tell me was, they’re not heavy on social media and I I should wait until the video to the track drops so I can do a review. Really? Didn’t we have an agreement already? Meanwhile someone else I featured too, same week, is going to 8K views in under a week cuz of the effort he’s putting into it.
There’s no denying the impact of social media and the internet on the progression of an artist’s (or anybody else’s) career. Whatever way you look at it, at this day and age almost everyone has internet or access to internet. There are numerous music platforms such as Spotify, TIDAL, Mdundo etc where you can buy music. The only way that you can get access to your fans without going through the hassle of meeting them is by connecting with them on the internet, finding out what they like, what they’d love to get from you, who they would love for you to work with and occasionally when you drop the ball, they’re there to say that you didn’t do their best. So how is it possible that someone who claims they want to create art and share it with the world refuse to evolve with the times? Social media (internet) is here to stay, if you haven’t figured out a way to use it to your advantage and to evolve with the times, that’s really on you. You’ve got no one else to blame.
Some artists are really quick to point fingers at X,Y,Z while they still haven’t cleaned up their act. Maybe the government needs to do more, the media, the fans etc but before you call people out on slacking, is your branding great? How’s your marketing? What’s the quality of the music? How do you connect with your fans? Are you working towards constantly perfecting your skill so that your next record sounds better than the last?
The fans. Man, I could talk about this all day. I appreciate those who support, give their feedback and view the videos whether on #RFF or on the channels the artists put their craft on. You’re even more appreciated when you go that extra mile to buy a tape/song or pay to get into an event. You can’t be asking for free entry or not buying tapes that are worth as little as Kshs. 100 and still have the audacity to ask why our artists are broke. If you’re not part of them looking like your favorite foreign star then please, be quiet.
Also for those who constantly have nothing good to say, you have to realize that the artists design their craft in a way that one or two souls will be touched by it and that their message will resonate to their situation. That’s just it. If you don’t like what someone is doing, find music by someone else that you will appreciate. Please note that I’m not saying that we should allow mediocre music whether in audio or visual form across the airwaves, I’m just saying it it doesn’t appeal to you or make you happy, offer positive criticism that could help the artist change for the better, discover other strengths in artistry if music isn’t one of those or keep it moving.
For those who haven’t gotten round to appreciating Kenyan music just yet, I say, give it a chance. You might be surprised. Some of the music that comes from here does match your “international” star. Maybe even surpasses it. Give. It. A. Chance.
I have so much I could say about this and yes, of course we need to see improvement but I feel more of us should grind harder (whether as a giver or receiver), stop pointing fingers, focus on the art and where we can push, do that 100x better than the next one.
I’m not saying that I have the solutions, I don’t. I’m not saying I know everything, again, I don’t. The only thing I have done is be open to that conversation, been open to exploring more KE (African) sounds and I will continue to be. I’m here for that.
Can we talk about it less and be more about it? Change has got to start somewhere and it starts with you.