Music Business: How to Fail as an Artist in the Music Industry

Often many articles are written about how to succeed in business whether it be music, fashion, film or what have you. I think it is even more effective to write about how to fail in the music business. Here are 12 steps on how you can fail as an artist in the music business:

  1. Treat music as music, not music business: Spend all day in the studio and dub yourself the ultimate studio rat. Ignore hiring or finding the professionals you need (manager, attorney, promoter, publicists, accountant) to help you become a successful artist.
  2. Put all your friends and family on your payroll: It doesn’t matter whether they have the skills or experience. They have been your friends since nursery school. So, carry on. Put all of them (patapata) on your payroll, ignore spending and watch how you quickly plummet into bankruptcy.
  3. Buy Expensive Cars & Homes: These days artists are buying expensive cars and even more expensive homes. The car loses value and becomes worthless in a few years. It also cost a lot of money to maintain, especially with the disastrous roads in Nigeria. But, no problem. Join them because you know appearances must be kept. Buy a five bedroom home for you (one person) and all of your friends that will squat (move in rent free) and family. You are their certified banker and they will come to you for all of their monetary needs. You are being a generous friend and good son/brother etc. So, carry on and spend your way to bankruptcy.
  4. Continue with use of Illegal Substance: Using drugs in the industry is becoming a trendy thing. Many are smoking weed like their lives depended on it. Ignore the fact that you (as a single individual) are a business that can generate millions of Naira through your songs, endorsement deals etc. Smoke your creativity, your good health and your potential or current high net-worth like there is fire on the mountain.
  5. Believe the Hype: Your friends tell you “you is the bomb!” You have a hit single on the radio, more people are adding you on twitter. So, believe that you will be around for a long time. Ignore the fact that music is a short-lived career and do not plan for your future.
  6. Believe The Industry Hates You: It is a sure way to have a very bad attitude, stay secluded and isolated and just make music. No one plays your songs, blogs only write about their friends, it is you against the music industry. With that mentality, who is even trying to deal with you, much less hang around you? Yikes!
  7. Believe You Just Need P-Square, Obi Asika, Banky W, Audu Maikori etc. to Hear Your Music & Then You Go Blow!: Stay delusional. If you can only kick it with these famous people, then you go blow. Siddon there they look.
  8. Ignore Marketing and Promotions: Ignore marketing and promoting your songs through social media, local performances, tours, word of mouth,radio play etc.
  9. Ignore Learning About the Business of Music: Yes, ignore sites like, ignore rolling your sleeves, getting out of the studio, meeting people, shaking hands, building relationships, learning who the key players are. Just expect manna to fall down from heaven because you are an artist.
  10. Ignore the Law & Lawyers: Lawyers cannot be ignored if you are in the music business, period. It is irrelevant whether you like lawyers. Lawyers don’t like you or your attitude either BUT they do not need to like you to get the job done. However, you have it all figured out. So, ignore the entertainment lawyers, ignore understanding about basic copyright law and just do your “thang.” Make songs with fellow artists with no agreements, sign record deals and sign your life away with absolutely no idea what you just signed. You get the drift. . .
  11. Ego: Have a HUGE ego and be overly sensitive. No one can tell you anything in the industry because you just know it ALL. You sabi everything. You have done it before and you know how things run. If blogs or anyone has anything to say or criticize your work, be so wounded. Discuss it with everyone and their mama on and offline. Magnify a statement written about you and make some drama out of nothing. In fact make a “F**k you” song for all of your “haterz.”
  12. Ignore Your Health: Go for prolonged periods without food. When you do eat, eat junk food, down it with straight shots of Hennessy, hard liquor etc. Stay up  late with no sleep until Insomnia becomes your best friend. Ignore warning signs from your body such as grouchiness (all the time), mood swings, overly sensitive etc. The crash is inevitable which of course affects your ability to make music. No good health, no music, no money.

There you have it. A most likely effective way of failing in the music business. For full effect, please watch the hit single by Bigiano called ‘Shayo’  and just ‘Shayo’ your way through the industry.

NOTE: Bigiano Promotional Flyer has nothing to do with the article written, it is to match video used.

Africa Music Law™

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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