Monday, January 30, 2012


Pics by Spark Africa and PPMC

It was a beautiful sunny day and the venue was Greenfields Hotel in a serene part of this mountainous county which overlooks one of the highest points across the African continent. Highly exciting than that were over a group of over 80 talented and enthusiastic music students from all over Kenya who had gathered at the hotel to seek knowledge on how they could further their soon to be full-time careers. The Permanent Presidential Music Commission had been kind enough to invite me and I see this as an opportunity to help young people getting into the music industry to be fully prepared before they even venture in.

The one thing I have observed in the industry is that when musicians start out, they only think about how they will make money and be rich. What I have often advised them is that the money will not be made unless they are passionate enough to be able to receive it. Talent in the music industry is only 10 per cent of the work it the rest is how ready an artist is and how committed they are to make it. I gave the story of how a five minute chat between Nigerian artist DBanj and mega superstar Kanye West led to a signing on his label Good Music. They coincidentally met at a Dubai airport; DBanj was ready and he looked the part.

DBanj was mistaken for Kanye West when he walked into the airport because Kanye was on his way too. Dbanj waited for him and within five minutes let him sample his music. He was at the right place, right time and was so ready for big things. Most artists rely too much on talent but we live in an era where talent can be learnt so that’s not the overriding factor when it comes to success in this competitive and cut throat industry. So organisation is an artist’s best chance at winning. I made the student understand the importance of having the basic management tools they can have cheaply before even venturing into the industry.

I’ve met many artists wanting to succeed but don’t even have a biography of themselves. I mean the industry is so demanding that you may not have time to play for every record and business executive you meet. You need to be able to drop them a brief bio and music in the quickest time possible. The people who run the music industry don’t have the time to listen to your millions of stories about what you have done. If they can’t read it then it’s a waste of time. Now many up-coming artists may not have the funds to pay someone to write them a bio so they need to write their own bio but always remember to write as a third party.
Your bio has to have the five second attraction rule – it takes that much time for anyone who is going to change your career to get interested. Your bio must first have an interesting and artistic look so if you want to play around with fonts that’s okay – it shows your personality. Secondly your introduction must be brief and to the point – where you started music, your influences, your story. Your story will always sell you.

Some artists such as Knaan, 50 Cent and Emmanuel Jal have succeeded mainly because they sold their story well. If you have a deep story it should be at the top of your bio. That’s what will catch the needed attention.
Thirdly the photography in your bio must be of the highest order even if it’s not done professionally; its must show your full character. If you are into fashion that must come out flawless. If you are a performing artist then the picture must show you playing an instrument, if you sing about environment then look like you care for it. Keep it classy yet simple. After the photo, put in your bio the highlights of your career so if you played in high school choir let it be known. Your bio must be the most basic description of yourself in five minutes of meeting someone; Remember the people who will make you real money don’t have the time

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