Law & Policy, Music Business

Neglecting Hungry Fans: Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, and the Perpetual Don Jazzy. Can New Videos Revive Old Songs?

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Tiwa Savage and Late videos2012 was a great year for Nigerian music. It was the year of the ever dramatic international EME tour, and also the reign of a popular Ghanaian dance that could be found in every Nigerian music video. Yes, I am talking about the “Azonto.” I personally started practicing my Azonto in 2011 and finally succeeded at a quasi-mastery of the dance move in May of 2012. Who didn’t take a few steps back and hit them with a blow, mid-stride, at the sound of Wizkid’s “Azonto?” The track, which was released in early 2012, was very well received both on the continent and in the diaspora. Although the dance had long been celebrated in its native nation Ghana where it originated, it really gained international fame through today’s contemporary West African music scene via artists like Nigerian artist like Wizkid and Ghanaian artists like Sarkodie and Tiffany.

In the summer of 2012, Wizkid’s then (and rumored soon to be again) label EME started EME Wednesdays, where the label chose to release one music video every Wednesday. This lasted for about a month. But none of the videos released were for Wizkid’s Azonto. There were videos for other Wizkid songs but Azonto was not one of them. Fans demanded to know when a video for the much loved track would be released, and were promised one in the near future. 2012 came and went without an Azonto video.

Wizkid and Azonto late videoSuddenly, after the rumors of a split with his EME crew, Wizkid released a video for Azonto. Over a year later? At this point the song had lost most of its hype and the dance…well the dance is slowly finding its way to the back of the line with the stanky leg.

Don’t get me wrong, I watched the video and loved it. There was something about it that made me watch it until the end. But I can promise you that I never watched it again. Not because it wasn’t good, but because the song had expired. New videos just do NOT resurrect old songs. They are not the Jesus to your Lazarus.

At least the video was good. What happens when you wait over a year to release your video and it ends up being a let-down?

Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy Late VideosIn December of 2011, fans were dealt a delicious blow of sound in the track “Without My Heart.” It was a sexy club banger that just screamed “Music Video Please!!!” The lyrics spoke of tipsy dress ripping, and mind blowing screwing… (Hey her words, not mine). Initially when the track was released, Tiwa Savage’s official YouTube page had one of those makeshift YouTube videos showing a picture of her and Don Jazzy in the background while the music played. Based on Tiwa’s track record of sexy Beyoncé-esque videos with dance scenes, fans already expected a hot new dance video. But one never came. We waited and waited…and then we waited some more.

And then in March of 2013 (a ridiculous 15 months later), fans were notified through social media and websites via behind the scenes pictures and clips, that the Mavin CEO and first lady were shooting a video for the track “Without My Heart.” At first I thought it was for a different “Without My Heart,” because I knew my girl Tiwa would not fall my hand with some late release moves. But she fell it, and she fell it hard.

Not only was I disappointed in the fact that this video was released extremely late, I was just plain disappointed in the video. There was and is no cohesion between the video and the underlying musical track. You had the nerve to release a video over a year later, then you deliver Tiwa in a white dress flying around like winchy winchy? To what effect please?  Dear Nigerian Artists, please remain consistent! This was my complaint last week when Beyoncé (America’s black sweetheart) released her latest hot ratchet mess track. When you start marketing a particular track as a party track, you can’t just turn around and shoot some Evanescence “look at me I’m so deep and artsy” looking video expecting your fans to just “get it.”

Don Jazzy and Late VideosSo why release a video over a year later?

Tiwa and Wizkid are not the only Nigerian artists to neglect hungry fans in need of videos. This is not Don Jazzy’s first time as a late comer in the video department.  When Mo’ Hits ruled the Nigerian music Industry, D’Banj and Jazzy perpetually released videos long after D’Banj’s songs had reigned and expired. That was at a time when Nigerian fans were hungry for Nigerian music videos and would take anything they could get. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t notice (We DID!!). Or maybe they thought we would just be happy to see Nigerians on Channel O and MTV. But at a time when even I can be found on MTV Base, that last argument is hard to make.

Party tracks, unlike ballads, burn quick and die fast. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and there will be no revival. And at a time when even Vic-O can make a music video, delivering a video almost a year later (especially one that lacks cohesion with the underlying track) is unacceptable. This was very poor marketing on the part of Star Boy and Mavin Records.

American artists release videos for songs off their albums months after the albums hit stores. But they release videos for popular songs as soon as possible. The later videos are to attract attention to songs that the artists or the labels believe have not received the media attention they deserve.

You cannot release a track on its own (not as part of an album) and then decide to shoot a video for it over a year later, claiming that it will be on your new album like we won’t notice that it’s old material. Acknowledge the age of the material.

You can even give us some crap about how much you love the track and just had to shoot a video for it. Communicate with your fans.  But don’t act like they’re dumb, because they’re not.

Wizkid’s Azonto

Without my Heart by Tiwa Savage

-Ollachi Holman

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Ollachi Holman

AML intern Ollachi Holman aka “Enzé is a recording artist commonly affiliated with Syndik8 Records. She has been featured on tracks with the likes of Lynxxx, 2Shotz and MI, and has had a few cameos in clubs and albums. A recent law school graduate from the University of Houston Law School, she is pursuing a career in Entertainment Law. Look for her posts on on Mondays and Wednesdays in the AML categories of "Music Law" and "Celebrities Behaving Badly", now until May 2013. Please give her your feedback and let her know how she is doing, what you like and don't like. Thanks!

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1 Comment

  1. @Ollachi, very topical and a good article. In addition to the points you raise, I am unsure artists can make the economic case for shooting a video over a year or years later to a hot single. Music videos are an essential part of an artist’s career. However, they are also a huge cost and if a label undertakes such financing, they expect to recoup on the video costs i.e. they are additional advances that need to be paid back.

    If an artist is self financing, they too should be thinking about the economic sense it makes and the marketing/promotions perspective.

    An argument can be made that there is potential money off video royalties. However, in a market like Nigeria’s, for where? Yes you have the likes of IROKO that can place the video on You Tube or their self hosted platforms, but from the messages I receive and contract terms this distributors negotiate with artists, I am hard press to believe any royalties will end up in the pockets of artists. The distributor too has to recoup their advances to these artists. I will, nevertheless, say when a music video is good, even when shot a year later, it can revive old songs. Reference Tiwa Savage’s IFE WA GBONA. The audio got no love but the video completely revived the song.

    Good writeup.

    -Uduak

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