Ghana music industry – without doubt – has become a multi-million dollar industry, as famous artistes in the country earn thousands of Ghana Cedis per show, while endorsement deals and programs sponsored by corporate organisations outside Ghana fetches them thousands of dollars with the fame that comes with it.
Aside that, Ghanaian artistes have started making headlines in international tabloids; some of them made the list of 100 Most Influential Persons in Africa (2017) put together by NewAfrican magazine. Others have defied the odds to win the prestigious BET award, and a host of other international accolades.
This, to a large extent, places Ghana on the world map and force to reckon with on the planet as far as music is concerned.
But the journey wasn’t that easy – as the little beginning stories of many of those who now represent Ghana on the world stage such as Reggie Rockstone, Okyeame Kwame, M.anifest, Sarkodie, Bisa Kdei, Becca, Efya, Kubolor reveals how the journey was so tough and rough before they make it to limelight.
In separate interviews by these artistes, they opened up on how they struggled and deviced means to get the attention of Ghanaians who were so hooked onto foreign artistes such as Tupac, Biggy, Eminem, Jay Z and co.
In order to get into limelight, many had to adopt western styled outfits, do collaborations with some of these artistes before they could be accepted by their own people.
But the game has since changed. Ghanaian artistes now rap in Ga, Twi and Ewe and they still call the shot in the industry because of the recognition given them.
But the question is: Is it still hard for talented and refined young artistes to hit the limelight like those days when the airwaves was flooded with American music? I guess so.
Why is it so, GhanaWeb asks one of Ghana’s brilliant up and coming artiste, B-ryt, known in private life as Bright Owusu has this to say:
“Up and coming artistes face quite a lot of challenges in a sense that – even though you’ve been given thumbs up by the ‘big boys’ in the industry after listening to your songs, and they tell you “the world needs to hear what you do”, it won’t stop you from facing huge barriers of various sizes mounted by the same industry players such as DJs and media players.
“Most of these challenges you need to surmount with money, consistency, training and prayer.”
“Looking at the level of refined talented artistes we have in Ghana today, I believe the best of what Ghana can produce is not what we have on stage today. The best is among those of us striving to get a chance to make it to the stage they have denied us because they feel we want to take the shine off them.
So I think it’s about time the established artistes, producers, music promoters who have not started investing in young chaps like me start paying attention to us; give us resources and the platform to make Ghana proud as well.”
Opening up platforms to young talents has been part of some established Ghanaian artistes plan, while some are already investing resources in those who yield to their call; one of those artistes is Sarkodie.
Sarkodie is well-respected in Africa and outside the African continent for his versatility despite the fact that he raps majorly in local language (Twi). He has – as well – collaborated with major artistes in Nigeria and won international awards many established artistes are still dreaming of winning. Many say, “he’s simply exceptional”.
He has been seen – grooming some selected young artistes in some videos uploaded on YouTube; this attempt has received accolades from entertainment pundits who believe this is the way to go; placing young artistes on his giant shoulder for the world to notice them.
On the contrary, some believe he’s not doing enough; some says he’s “indirectly exploiting these young artistes” because they believe he makes money from the videos, while he pays nothing to the artistes he has used to make the monies.
But the biggest of the criticism which spread like fire when he (Sarkodie) announced on his social media platform – another opportunity for up and coming artistes who want exposure to submit their works, and if qualified, will be featured in his album.
He noted that none of them will be paid for whatever they are bringing on board, as the exposure will be enough for them to launch their career in the industry.
Many who criticized his intention not to reward the up and coming artistes – in their submissions – however suggested that the artistes need more than the “exposure” Sarkodie has promised to give.
Some argued Sarkodie of all artistes shouldn’t be the one “exploiting” the “hungry” young artistes as he has a record of fighting for the rights of artistes who have criticized show planners and corporate organisations for not paying them their worth.
Pundits argued that Sarkodie himself have turned down shows because he felt he deserved more than the show planners had proposed; insisting on respect for artistes in Ghana.
While some up and coming artistes have hailed his move, others have treaded cautiously in order not to insult someone they look up to in the music industry.
For B-ryt, artistes need both cash and exposure to attain the status they deserve:
“Well for me, it’s a good idea Sarkodie has brought up, and in as much as he’s making money out of this project, I think the up and coming artiste should also benefit. Of course, they shouldn’t expect something big, but – at least- something to top up their wardrobe and probably pay for studio session to put their experience with him into a song. So, I think it’s okay for us (up and coming artistes) to be appreciated with cash as well – in order to keep our brand classic and sustained.
This interview was done by Oluwatobi Pelumi for GhanaWeb