As Nigeria’s music industry prepares to wrap up 2011, I wondered when I would see an “AWESOMELY” cool music video from our artists. We all know Nigeria is capable of shooting picture quality music videos. That is now old news. Indeed, when everyone is shooting quality videos that are up to par with the West, logically, the next question is, “what separates you, as an artist, from the rest?” Herein lies the answer and the crux of what music videos are about. Music videos are about telling a compelling story to market and sell you the artist.
For Africans and Nigerians, particularly, I believe, strongly, that our music videos MUST retain our authenticity while embracing the changes a 21st century global society brings. Our authenticity includes our fashion statements that incorporates our textiles and apparel, interior designs, our beautiful geographic landscape/ natural resources, among other things. It is an opportunity to market and sell our culture, our people and exude pride in who we are.
For me, for 2011, Wizkid’s Pakurumo music video does just that and truly takes home the trophy for 2011 Music Video of the Year, in my book.
First, let’s begin with the compelling story written by Kunle Demuren, and adapted as a screenplay by Clarence Peters (Music Video Director) and Banky W (EME Executive and Artist). Can someone just playfully slap Demuren at the back of his head for me. No battery and assault please. When you are done, tell him Ms. Uduak Oduok says “you have done well.”
Demuren begins the ‘Pakurumo’ story with a strong opening of a modern day Nigerian record label office. I believe it is the first video that has taken a diverse and worldwide audience into the inner workings of a record label in Nigeria. Next, we see the booking department and subconsciously to us, but intentional both on Demuren and EME’s part, EME (the record label) is branded in our minds.
The designated representative is juggling numerous phonecalls in behalf of EME to book some of its artists, showing us how highly sought after EME artists are. As we leave that scene, it is a smooth and well edited transition to a venue where EME artists Wizkid and Skales have been booked for an event. This is where the plot gets quite interesting. At the venue, we see, at once, a convergence yet clash of two cultures. There is a tension between the rapidly growing Nigerian youth pop culture versus the traditional Nigerian culture. Can both exist? Can they find a middle ground?
The EME team cleverly cast Funke Akindele, Lawyer turned Nollywood Actress and Filmmaker, to play the lead female role that displays and reconciles this tension. She is brilliant. Akindele “schools” these “kids” (Wizkid & Skales) about culture and threatens to slap the American “yo, yo, yo” pop culture out of them. She is irritated by their “bling, blings,” among other things. She expected quality talent and instead appears to have been thrust with “kids” that look quite confused on their identities as Nigerians.
All hell appears to be about to break loose until Wizkid saves the day. He shows that the adults should not judge young people by their appearances. He shows our culture and essence is still intact. He sings in the Yoruba language, he acknowledges his elders as is customary in the Yoruba culture and most ethnic cultures within Nigeria. He teases the young girls. He shows there is no harm for young people who want to have fun to have fun. At the end of the day, the adults acquiesce and it is a great time for all.
Now, that is a story, a really good story. Joining to make Wizkid’s message come to life and to effectively market and position the Wizkid and EME brand is Banky W and Clarence Peters who I already introduced above. Both capture subtle elements of the Nigerian culture that is not lost on Nigerians and certainly should intrigue non-Nigerians. You see Nigeria’s cultural food staple i.e. a plate of rice and stew, you see the hilarious fighting that can take place at Nigerian parties, you see money sprayed on dancers, you see young men and women flaunt more of the modern Nigerian fashion styles and designers. This juxtaposed with the older adults who wear the more traditional Nigerian clothing. There are so many cultural elements that a delight to watch.
Folks, again, this is how you tell a story. Stories, needless to say, are very important. In the legal field and as a trial attorney, it is essential to tell a powerfully effective story whether before a judge or jury. In publishing, whether as a journalist or blogger, compelling stories are also important, especially if your goal is like mine, present the Africa no one sees on television. In music and for music videos, it is also no different. Compelling stories are important. Obviously I am impressed with the quality of the ‘Pakurumo’ story which, combined with the picture quality of the video, I can only imagine will win lots of awards in 2012.
Now, what next? First, watch the video. Second, if you are an artist, record label or other creative heads looking to create a music/fashion video, you should read my republished article below to see things you ought to think through to create a compelling video like Wizkid’s Pakurumo.
Inspiration for Article
My article is inspired by the many music video awards events that take place in Nigeria including the Nigeria Music Video Awards, Sound City Music Video Awards and MTV Africa Music Video Awards. It is also inspired by persons I deem to be some of Nigeria’s leading music video directors which includes DJ Tee, Clarence Peters, Gini and Kemi Adetiba. These directors are helping redefine the music game and making Nigerian music a beautiful export both intercontinentally and here in the West.
Disclaimer: I have never shot a music video. However, in my capacity as Creative Director, I been involved extensively in creating fashion videos from pre to post production. In addition, I have been involved in the film industry for a while now; and as Fashion Editor for USA based publication(s), I have had my fair share of conceptualizing and styling photo shoots.
There are indeed many parallels with shooting an MV and I draw on those parallels to discuss shooting a music video.
Why Do You Need a Music Video?
In the USA, large record labels make sure that almost every single released has a music video. Why? They understand that music videos are an essential and great marketing tool to help artists gain fans and sell their music. Nigeria’s music industry also gets it. We have seen and continue to see quality videos from many of Nigeria’s leading and emerging artists. It is an exciting time to be in the music industry.
What is the Purpose of a Music Video?
The key purpose is to sell you, the artist. Anyone who sees your video, especially your fans, should say, “Oh I like this guy/girl. Where do I buy his/her CD?”
How do you do Sell yourself as an artist?
You create a video that is compelling, memorable and shows off your personality. I’ll tell a short story to further illustrate my point. I heard Bez’s song on Notjustok.com in the past. I thought he was good but honestly, he didn’t move me to do anything about him with respect to featuring him on Ladybrille, my publication. Then, I saw Bez’s ‘More You’ directed and produced by Kemi Adetiba. Clearly, Adetiba understood she held Bez’s reputation in her hands. She, in my opinion, handled it with care and delivered a video that made me, and other online and offline media heads take notice. Needless to say, Bez has since been featured on Ladybrille. Bez/Adetiba video was compelling, memorable and showed off Bez’s personality to the world in a way that said, “it is okay to be different and you don’t have to sing yet another “tolotolo” song.”
When Should You Think About Shooting a Music Video?
When you have a song with a release date and a clear idea you want to communicate. NOTE: For emerging artists, you are not a big label. Do not shoot a music video for every song you release. Use free tools like facebook, twitter etc. and word of mouth on the streets to find out which video your fans really want to see.
What Next After You Decide to Shoot a Music Video? – The Brainstorming Session
Once you decide to shoot your music video, the next step is to brainstorm and really think through, conceptually, what you want to achieve. What kind of music video do you want to produce? Think theme, location, story line, have your story board together, think about the visuals, talents/models you will need, wardrobe etc. Identify the music video director you want to work with and his/her compatibility with your personality. Don’t go to a director because everyone is shooting with him/her. The personality has to match and he/she must understand your vision. One of the weaknesses many in the creative industries have is, they get a vision for what they want and lack the flexibility to tailor it to meet the needs of each client. Directors are no exception. Be sure you have a director that welcomes collaborative work; rather than one that wants to execute his/her vision, only, on the video you are paying for.
Who is Involved in a Music Video Shoot, the Planning?
Your team will include a director/producer, makeup, hair and wardrobe stylists, models (not necessarily fashion models) etc. Notice there is no family (wife, husband, children), friends, girlfriend or boyfriend involved. It is a professional setting that requires respect for everyone’s time involved. As an artist, come to a video shoot with yourself, applicable label representatives and colleagues if they will be cameos in your video. Be and stay professional.
Money is a big issue especially for emerging artists. For USA/European based artists, the lack of money is not a valid excuse for not shooting your music video. There are film schools across the USA/Europe. Visit these schools, speak with department directors and ask to work with emerging filmmakers (senior or graduating class) who want to work with an artist like you. These students are so savvy with technology and what they produce is mind blowing. Many will work with you, through their school program or solo, for free in exchange for the film reel they get and future compensation.
For Nigeria and Ghanaian based artists, it is possible to shoot a low budget yet effective video. Eldee does this so well. He shoots big budget videos like ‘Bosi Gbanga,’ then turns around and shoots ‘One day E Go Better.’ Figure the cost to do the type of shoot you want and start saving. Vocal Slender who was featured on BBC’s ‘Welcome to Lagos’ as a Lagos scavenger saved to do shows even when he was living in Lagos’s dumpster. If he could do it under those dire conditions, you can definitely hustle and save some money too.
What Kinds of Legal Agreements Are Involved With a Music Video?
Video & Photo Release Agreement: Get a release from any and all persons that will be in your video. If you don’t it can become an issue later.
Music Production Agreements with producers/directors: you want all copyrights in the video produced so you can do whatever you want with it later.
TV Music Video Broadcast Agreements: This allows TV networks to play your videos on their networks if your video is selected. It is usually a very unilateral agreement in favor of the network and is more of a “submission” agreement.
Online Media Music Video License Agreements: This is an agreement you enter into with companies like AOL or Yahoo that might want you/your label to become a music content provider i.e. sending them your videos when it is released.
What Are the Distribution Channels for Marketing Your Music Video? You should be thinking about this before you even begin shooting your video. Why? Because it sets the tone for what you will deliver. If you want your music on MTV Base Africa, BET, Nigezie etc., think about the kinds of videos you see on those networks. Most importantly, think about the demographics or audiences they have and who you want to attract. Thinking about these things should not compromise your personality or the essence of who you are. I’ll say it again and again. KNOW THY SELF.
The two main distribution channels for your video are:
Online: This is HUGE! (Blogs, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc). Youtube, for example, has launched the careers of many artists including Canada’s Justin Beiber. You don’t have to bribe someone to get airplay time. Use the free tools at your disposal. If it is strong, word will get around very fast and TV networks will be the ones contacting you to play your video on their networks.
TV: MTV Base Africa, BET, Nigezie, HiTV, Sound City, Channel O etc.
New Media/Social Media Online Marketing
You have completed your music video and want to let everyone know. But, nobody really knows you. Even if they do know you, when is the right time to release your video to really shore up attention to create publicity? Below are the best times for online marketing of your music video.
Sending to Online Media & Blogs
Send all press releases regarding your Music video from Monday-Wednesday no later than 11am Eastern Standard Time (EST) i.e. New York Time. American/European and select Nigerian media companies and blogs coming off the weekend need fresh news. Monday-Wednesday they are poring through emails, video clips etc. Your chances of having them see your video and paying attention increases substantially if you send it before lunchtime and when the world is waking up.
Releasing on Facebook
A recent study by a Western company called Vitrue analyzed when Facebook users are most engaged. The conclusion follows:
“The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST.
The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. EST on weekdays.
Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm EST is consistently the busiest period.
Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.”
As an artist or label this social media marketing information is crucial so you can truly maximize and get a high return on all of your hard work and investments.
I am a trial lawyer as well as the founder and principal attorney for UDUAK LAW FIRM, a firm serving the fashion and entertainment industries. You can follow me on twitter atwww.twitter.com/uduaklaw or www.twitter.com/africamusiclaw. I am also the President & CEO of Ladybrille Media Group, Inc. I have over seventeen years combined experience in the fashion and entertainment industries and welcome your basic Music Business Questions. Have a question for me? Send me an email: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photocredit: TCD Photography