I originally submitted this article on January 19, 2018, and it was first published on www.technovagh.com
The way music is consumed has grown over the years globally and Ghana is part of that music consumption story. Music streaming sites, digital stores, social media, and analytical tools have helped make the local music industry become a better one. It has also given musicians so much power than ever before. Today, it would seem that the local Ghanaian musician doesn’t really need a traditional record label deal to pursue a musical career in Ghana.
Good branding is simply the act of becoming known for something that you do, above any other competitor. It is about defining yourself, knowing your audience and selling your craft to them. With technology, the New Ghanaian Artiste can promote himself/herself online to attract a bigger audience.
In Ghana, musicians are constantly defining their brand with their logos, and conceptual art covers. Most of these inputs are distributed through social media and websites of musicians.
To know more about their target audience and in trying to get a wider reach, some artists have signed onto music monitoring platforms such as Qisimah and Ghud Music which gives them analytical data of their music.
The fast rise of Kwesi Arthur in the music scene is evident that becoming your own media is substantial to the career of the New Ghanaian Artiste. Kwesi Arthur is believed to have started music in his high school days but took it more seriously when he got on Groundup Charle, a platform dedicated to sharing music talent from Africa.
Kwesi Arthur released a lot of rap videos on Youtube which earned him quite the following and also featured international acts like Suli Breaks. Even though he wasn’t signed to a record label, he released Live From Nkrumah (EP) for his audience on Apple Music and other digital stores.
A part of the New Ghanaian Artiste is owning their craft. Musicians like M.anifest, Adomaa, Bryan the Mensah and a lot more have websites that don’t just serve as an online brochure, but a platform that archives all work by the musician and a tool to interact with their fans. Some artistes like M.anifest even send out newsletters chock-full of important announcements and information for his fans.
The use of social media by the New Ghanaian Artiste has grown beyond being a just a distribution channel but a channel to tell stories about their craft to their fans.
I do want to encourage everybody that’s coming up especially the young musicians to try innovative ways to distribute your music as well. Is a good time for us to be innovative, try and find a way to create an infrastructure that will not let us be famous and broke.
This was a statement made by M.anifest on Citi FM in 2016 while promoting the Nowhere Cool album which was the first album by a mainstream artiste to be 80+% distributed online. It actually turned out to be a major success.
Before the Nowhere Cool album, the average Ghanaian musician just hosted an album launching event, made a few sales and gave CDs to stores. But the Nowhere Cool album justified that distributing music with technology in Ghana is possible. Sarkodie also promoted his album Highest digitally and this signals confidence in online music distribution.
The New Ghanaian Artiste can now have their music distributed internationally online via Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music and locally with Aftown and OnBarz which makes it possible for the New Ghanaian Artiste to earn money from his/her craft.
One could say that technology has enabled the “New” Ghanaian Artiste to overcome the “famous and broke” syndrome.