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#PromucorpCorner with dj ALjahZEEra: Media Gatekeepers; insights for upcoming & mainstream musicians”.

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Media Gatekeepers – they’re the ones who decide whether or not your music is worthy enough to earn massive exposure. They’re the bloggers, the radio DJs, the music supervisors, A&R execs at major labels, prominent artist managers, radio station program directors, music magazine editors, big venue talent buyers, playlist curators, etc. The ones who decide which artists get their songs heard. And they’re the people that most musicians often can’t seem to figure out.

Once you start to learn about people in positions of power, you begin to see that they’re not nearly as hard to decipher as you might have thought. Figuring them out doesn’t mean, however, that getting them to listen to your music will be easy, but it does mean that you’ll have a better chance of getting through to them. So to help you break down the walls, here are a few things to keep in mind about these music industry “gatekeepers.”

Those in the industry who have the ability to break new artists might have important jobs or large audiences, but for the most part, they’re pretty normal people. What makes them special is not that they’re different from us, but that they’re just like us. Even though we all enjoy playing and listening to music, we each have our own individual tastes and preferences that inform how we act as musicians and music lovers.

The same applies to music industry gatekeepers, and not just in the sense of what style of music they like. Some people like to stream tracks while others prefer digital downloads. Some like to communicate on social media while others prefer email. Some will read your press releases while others will throw them straight in the trash. On top of that, these preferences are often exclusive. If there’s a music supervisor who only likes to stream songs and you send them a download link, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll never listen to your song – not because they have anything against you, but simply because they don’t like downloading music.

So if you want to get in touch with someone in the music industry, learn how they like to be contacted, learn how they like to listen to music, and learn what sort of music they’re interested in. This will give you a much better chance of not only getting on their radar, but making a strong first impression as well.

If you take the busy-ness factor into consideration, learning the preferences of the person you’re trying to contact becomes all the more important. Some never read press releases, so sending him / her one would be a waste of not only his / her time but your time as well. And instead of reading press releases, some decide which albums to listen to based on their cover art. So if you want your track to be played together with all songs considered, investing in good cover art design would make a lot more sense before hiring a publicist.

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Guest Blog - The Other View

#PromucorpCorner with dj ALjahZEEra: “THE STREAMING ECONOMY”

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Traditionally, radio was the most important way for fans to discover music and new artists. While it is still a highly relevant medium in today’s transitional phase of the music business, another discovery tool’s relevance is increasing rapidly: the playlist. The two largest streaming services, Spotify and Apple Music, both make heavy use of curated and/or algorithmically created playlists which help their users to discover new music.

And those playlists can be highly influential. Spotify’s famous hip-hop playlist RapCaviar, which Vulture once called “the most influential playlist in music”, for instance has almost 10 million followers as of writing this (for comparison’s sake: Dancehall Official, Spotify’s biggest dancehall playlist has just above 500,000 followers). A song that ends it way onto it can easily blow up, as happened last year with rapper Lil UziVert’s XOTour Llif3.The track was voted “Song of the Summer” at the 2017 VMAs and peaked at #10 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts – all without any significant airplay on radio.

So, artists that want to build a career in the streaming age need to master new challenges. First, they need to establish relationships with the relevant curators who can drive listens and break artists. Moreover, they need to develop tactics to engage their fans and turn them into regular streamers.This might start with the music itself, include innovative release strategies, and also the use of social media to drive repeat listens. As the rules of the game change, so do the moves that win big. And it doesn’t necessarily require major label power behind it. If you search the web for success stories of DIY artists or those signed at independent labels, you will find that innovative, clever teams have a real opportunity.

The key, however, is to not solely rely on streaming revenues but to make it part of a broader strategy. Due to the way streaming revenues are distributed among rights owners, the biggest artists in terms of overall plays make the most money. For smaller acts, it can be a challenging environment. Thus, artists in a niche genre like reggae might find it even harder to create revenue from streams than from sales. Still, streaming presents an opportunity even to them. One key benefit that comes with streaming music is very good data about the audience. Clever teams, for instance, use insights like the cities in which an act is most popular to plan successful tours.

The precise structure of the optimal business varies from artist to artist but the streaming economy makes controlling all parts of it in an integrated manner more desirable than ever, especially in a “global niche” like reggae.

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#PromucorpCorner with dj ALjahZEEra: THE MUSIC BUSINESS!

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The music business is a high-risk business. It is driven by profits that are often elusive to the very music artists who generate revenues for record companies and those who work in the various capacities and occupations that comprise and sustain the music industry. The music that we listen to as fans or music lovers is packaged, sold, processed and viewed as “product” by industry professionals.

These professionals, who all serve different functions, are directly or indirectly responsible for the sale of that product or the support of the artist whose talent it embodies. The successful marketing and promotion of music artists and their product enable record companies to supply more products and financially back more music artists.

This is the most important function of a record company, and the greatest benefit of having a record deal to most music artists. Feeding the demand for a music artist, or a particular style of music, motivates record companies to supply more of that type of music, and those types of artists. (Ever wondered why there is so much rap music in the marketplace? Ever wondered why so many female singers look like models now?)

These sales are achieved through creative and consistent marketing efforts by professionals who are dedicated to achieving that end result. These results are greatly enhanced by the various strategic angles that are devised and implemented on all levels and facets of the entertainment industries which overlap with the music industry (Television commercials, guest appearances, live performances, soundtracks, etc.)

Research has concluded, and history will show, that when an entrepreneurial approach is taken by competent professionals who are trying to claim their share in this worldwide 50 billion dollar industry, the prospects of obtaining otherwise elusive profits are increased dramatically. When operating knowledge of the industry is met with ample financial backing, success is almost assured.

The music industry thrives on newness. New artists; new product; new labels, and new venues. They are all an inextricable part of the canvas that dreams and fantasies are painted on. Unfortunately, the magic potion that turns them into reality is money. Most newcomers are high on ambition, and low on finances. Many cling to the mysterious notion that they just simply have to find an investor who they will make rich in exchange for their generosity despite the incredibly high rate of financial failure, which is estimated that only 2 out of 10 CD’s on the market will actually make a profit.

Record labels have long been considered the home of music artists. The relationship they once forged was similar to that of a parent and a child. Now that child has become a rebellious runaway. The abundance of independent labels and independent artists are tangible proof of this phenomenon and new business model.

Fundamentally, some music artists are more educated on the music business, but the intricacies of “major label” success remain hidden in the inner sanctum of corporations who have finely tuned operating systems and an abyss of resources to maintain the status quo.

Financially, the music industry is tainted by perplexing, convoluted, and antiquated accounting practices. Royalty statements tend to be inaccurate and the proficiency in calculating them is often suspect. There are stark discrepancies in the amount of money generated, and the amount of money earned. This is partly due to a host of deductions that music artists are unaware of. Performing live (touring) has been, and still is, the most reliable method of generating income since the inception of the music industry.

For professionals, employment is often hard to come by. The entrepreneur has the upper-hand in terms of making money because they aggressively pursue and/or create income opportunities by providing useful, beneficial, or luxury services to others who will use them to establish, increase, maintain their success, or protect their business interests.All professionals in the music industry are really in the service business, just as all music artists are really in the sales business.

In the music industry, opportunities that are replete with value demonstrated and perceived, obvious and not so obvious, are the ones that are capitalized on by aggressive entrepreneurs, visionaries, middlemen, and newcomers alike. For most, achieving success in the music industry is really no different than achieving success in other industries: it is a result of supplying product for which there is a demand and/or creating a demand for a unique product or service that only you can supply.

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CHRIS KONEY: Exploring South Africa – Gauteng Province

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Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, the wealthiest South African province was our next stop! Popularly known as Jozi or Joburg, it is one of the fifty largest urban areas in the world. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.

The metropolis is an alpha global city as listed by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2011, the population of the city of Johannesburg was 4,434,827, making it the most populous city in South Africa. In the same year, the population of Johannesburg’s urban agglomeration was put at 7,860,781.

Johannesburg began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement with its sprawling Soweto township housing two of Noble Peace Prize winners – freedom fighter and former South African president, Nelson Mandela and renowned human rights activists and Anglican bishop, Desmond Tutu. Originally an acronym for “South-Western Townships”, Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry.

Soweto, although eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, had been separated as a residential area for blacks, who were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper. Lenasia is predominantly populated by English-speaking South Africans of Indian descent. These areas were designated as non-white areas in accordance with the segregationist policies of the South African government known as apartheid.

Today, several years after the racist system of governance, apartheid, was brought to an end, Soweto has become a microcosm of the prosperity, poverty and everything in between experienced by the black population of today’s South Africa.

At Soweto, we visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, which commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid and in particular the role played by the school children who took part in the Soweto protests of 1976, many of whom were shot by the apartheid police while protesting against the sub-standard of education in black schools in South Africa.

One of the first to be killed by the police was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. Newspaper photographer Sam Nzima was in Soweto on June 16 covering the protests and the riots which followed. His iconic image of Pieterson’s body being carried by high school student Mbuyisa Makhubo, with his sister, Antoinette Sithole, running alongside, is a graphic representation of repression under the apartheid regime and has become an iconic image around the world of the senseless cruelty and brutality of the apartheid state.

We also visited Nelson Mandela’s former residence which is now the Mandela House museum and other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation including the sombre Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex.

The Apartheid Museum is a museum complex that illustrates apartheid and the twentieth-century history of South Africa. The complex, owned by Gold Reef City Casino, was opened in November 2001 and allows visitors to experience the racial segregation that occurred during Apartheid by separating them by racial appearance classified by the width of the nose, the kinks in hair, skin pigmentation, and size of lips.

After learning about the racial segregation and system of apartheid in South Africa which was banned in 1994, we had to go catch some fun and we couldn’t have gone anywhere more ideal than the Gold Reef City for some adventure.  Gold Reef City is an amusement park located on an old gold mine which closed in 1971 and the park is themed around the gold rush that started in 1886 on the Witwatersrand.

Just 8 kilometres from the centre of Johannesburg lies the world famous yet uniquely South African Gold Reef City.  Gold Reef City is “Pure Jozi, Pure Gold” and provides a multitude of experiences under one roof.  Living and breathing twenty-four hours a day, the property provides the best of everything; from A-list entertainment to award-winning restaurants to the exhilarating theme park to the excitement of the casino. Pure energy, pure indulgence, pure escape, where Jozi comes to life!

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Gold Reef City offers two 4 star hotels, a casino comprising of smoking and non-smoking casinos plus a Prive, the famous Back O’ The Moon Restaurant, the Tsogo Sun owned Vigour & Verve, the largest theme park in the country, home to the Apartheid Museum, a Kaya FM satellite studio, kiddies entertainment facilities, a world-class theatre as well as a selection of conferencing and team building options.

Visitors can also enjoy a 6 theatre cinema complex, a bowling alley, a fast food court and additional restaurants.  If you want to kick back and take it easy, or suit up and get your game face on, find yourself, lose yourself, we have it all at the Gold Reef City.

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CHRIS KONEY: Exploring South Africa – KwaZulu-Natal Province

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After experiencing nature like never before – sliding through the forest canopy and enjoying a unique birds-eye view on the world around us in the Drakensberg, we set out on a two-hour journey to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province – Durban was our exact destination.

Durban is a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, known for its African, Indian and colonial influences. The blend of cultures and architecture positions Durban as one of the unique spots in South Africa. Apart from Durban’s Golden Mile which is a destination for surfers, families and fisherman, due to its blend of natural beauty and modern resort, there are several major-city attractions making the city a good destination for families and couples alike.

We were welcomed to Durban by the African plant species showcased at the Durban Botanical Gardens, which was quite a refreshing sight. Due to the weather on the day, we had to abandon our first activity in Durban – bungee swing at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium. Though filled with disappointment, some of us opted to experience first-hand the logistics at the ‘futuristic facility’.  

The Big Swing (as it is popularly called) at Moses Mabhida Stadium can best be described as the envy of thrill-seeking adventure travellers the world over. Not only is this extreme Durban attraction the only stadium swing on earth, it also holds the Guinness Record for the World’s Tallest Swing. Also known as the Big Rush, the Moses Mabhida Stadium swing has been giving new meaning to ‘Durban flights’ since 2010.

The adventure begins on your arrival at Moses Mabhida Stadium where you will report to the Big Rush Stadium Shop. There, you will sign an indemnity waiver form before being taken through the basic safety precautions.  You are fitted into a full body harness that will allow you to try a quick technique demonstration in the practice area. A short walk to the stadium arch and your harness will be attached to the safety line. Your jump will take place at ‘ladder rung 4’ – you will be assisted down the ladder onto the platform by the Big Rush Jump Crew, who will also ensure that you are ready to go, that is not having second thoughts. As a jumper, you are secured by ropes and harnesses, before taking the plunge into the huge void over the pitch, and then swinging out up to 220 metres under the famous arch of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The rest of the post-jump time is spent reliving the experience – jumps are recorded and screened at the Base Café that is situated within the Big Rush Stadium Shop and you can get a copy of the recording to watch again later once the rush has worn off.

From the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the entire team went to the Gateway Mall to have lunch and then explore the shopping centre.  Voted as the best shopping centre by the Daily News Your Choice awards in 2014 and 2015, the Gateway Theatre of Shopping is the ultimate retail and entertainment destination in Durban. Find everything under one roof in this super regional shopping centre that hosts some of the most elite retail stores in South Africa.

With over 390 stores, 70 eateries and a host of exciting entertainment, visitors are spoilt for choice. At Gateway you will find local South African retail as well as popular international brands such as Zara, Forever New, Cotton On, Super dry, Gant, and everything in between.

We checked into the Protea Hotel where we spent the night. After breakfast the next morning, we headed out to the uShaka Marine World, a 16-hectare theme park where we spent the entire day. Opened on 30 April 2004, the uShaka Marine World comprises of five sections: uShaka Sea World, uShaka Wet ‘n’ Wild, uShaka Beach, uShaka Village Walk and, uShaka Kids World. Durban is famous for its beaches and that is exactly what you will discover at the uShaka Marine world.

It really is an adventure at uShaka Sea World with dolphin shows, seal shows, penguin presentations, shark dives, ray feeds and so much more! Sea World boasts of an impressive Dolphin Stadium, seating over 1 200 spectators, who are thrilled and delighted with two dolphins show presentations each day. Separate interactive pools, known as the Dolphin Lagoon, allow up close and personal encounters with these amazing creatures. Alongside the Dolphin Stadium, is the Seal Stadium which hosts a fun-filled seal shows, as well as the Penguin rockery, home to over 63 African Penguins

uShaka’s Wet ‘n’ Wild caters for the adrenaline junkie and those less adventurous with a fun freshwater world of slides and pools. You will get blown away with uShaka’s newest and fastest slide as you take a deep breathe, holding onto your cozzie and get ready to speed through the tunnel before spiralling around the tornado bowl and down into a pool below.

Another experience you cannot miss at the uShaka Marine World is Durban’s ultra-thrilling, new rope adventure park – with the longest continuous belay system in Africa. Test your limits and challenge yourself at uShaka Marine World’s Chimp & Zee Rope Adventure Park. You could opt for either the introductory journey, intermediate journey or both.    

Adding to the fun and excitement at the uShaka Marine World is the unique shopping experience, offering shoppers paradise in an open-air environment, affording guests a world of entertainment, family fun, shopping and dining.

Before our departure to Johannesburg, we had dinner at the legendary exclusive revolving restaurant which was officially opened in February 1973. The Roma was born from a concept pioneered by Bartholomeo Ribero, Comiso Turi and Gino Leopardi. Now owned by Reelin Group and managed by the Leopardi brothers, it is the only genuine revolving restaurant in the southern hemisphere and the third of its kind in the world.

The Roma Revolving Restaurant also boasts the unique feature as two others do, of a revolving window and floor area. The restaurant is situated on the 32nd level of John Ross House overlooking the whole of Durban and surrounding areas with excellent Sea and Bay views. It has a speed control mechanism which allows a revolution of anything between 60 and 90 minutes.

 

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 NANA YAA ASABEA: Societal Bastards

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…conceived in love, born out of wedlock

“We knew she would amount to nothing and now she’s carrying a bastard!” They whispered among themselves as Owusua made her way through the market square in Asankragua. She couldn’t actually hear them speak but their piercing gazes were enough to enable her read their minds.

She knew she had made a mistake with Kwame; a mistake she may never recover from, a mistake so huge that it was evidently visible from her protruding belly. Yes she was beautiful and modest but her crime was in giving in helplessly to a night of passion with the man of her dreams which only ended up in a full blown pregnancy. She never saw the end result coming and neither did she believe in abortion. Some self made societal counselors tagged her as a burden to the society; a name she very much grew accustomed to throughout the nine (9) month pregnancy period. She suffered shame and typical humiliation from an African society and shed so much tears on her unborn child. If not for God and her ever supportive baby-daddy, she would have probably succumbed to the societal pressures to abort the pregnancy. She lived in a society where it was “okay” to abort “unwanted” babies but a hideous crime to deliver those “unwanted” children after the ninth month. She knew her child (a daughter) wouldn’t suffer any less than she had and therefore had to prepare her for the criticisms of the hypocritical and judgmental society she belonged.

She became a topic for debate; a counseling point for younger ladies, a deterrent to younger individuals engaging in pre-marital sexual intercourse and the face of promiscuity in her society. After the birth of her child, Owusua became a bride to her “partner in sin” which they said “was a cheap means of controlling the already made damage,” aaahba!!  Will we ever mind our business and focus on our very own dirty and under-washed linens? Asantewaa, her pretty daughter, had already become an object of ridicule. She grew up listening to the ridiculous stories people had to say about her mother and issues surrounding her conception. She now had younger siblings who to her were conceived the “right way” but there she was a low life societal outcast! … Depression had already set in and that made her despise her very own existence.

She pushed herself to strive for academic excellence, graduated from the university with distinction and landed a well paying job. She eventually became a writer and used her life to encourage and uplift others going through similar predicaments.

Just like Owusua, many people especially those in the limelight tend to be bashed and stigmatized for conceiving out of wedlock. What we tend to forget as humans is, pregnancy is an emotional journey characterized by series of depressions so lashing out at people because their secret sins had yielded results (another human) makes us insensitive hypocrites. Yes they made a “mistake” so what? Tearing them down emotionally doesn’t make us better people. What happened to showing unconditional love to others? What happened to not casting the first stone? No one is to be made to pay for the mistakes of their past or that of their parents. I bet the loud mouths in such circumstances are the ones with the most hideous skeletons in their cupboard.

It sucks to be tagged as an outcast in the society and regardless of the story surrounding anyone’s means of conception, let’s note that these children can equally grow to become useful members of the society. The future of a child conceived out of wedlock isn’t defined by the situation surrounding his/her conception… I know this because I am one.

By: Nana Yaa Asabea

 

 

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“CONFUSION” BROUHAHA: Kuami Eugene has done nothing wrong – Jacob Kwaku Gyan

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Many people have criticised Kuami Eugene for releasing “confusion”, a song that is believed to be a remix of an original by Sidike Diabite. Albeit I concur that the song by the lynx entertainment singed youngster is indeed a cover of Sidike’s “Fais mois Confiance”, I believe Eugene has done nothing wrong in making this beautiful song for the gusto of his fans and Ghanaians at large.

First, there are over dozen copyright laws that may prevent an artist from putting up a remix. However, standard industry practice and conventions give room for an artist to take inspiration from another’s creativity but ought to give due credit to the original creator of the piece. The emergence of remixes is not a new practice in the music industry across the globe.

I hope you enjoyed the hit single by Sean Kingston titled “Beautiful girls”. Oh! I bet you didn’t know that it was a cover of Ben E. King’s Stand by me. Did you bash The then 17-year-old Kingston for that amazing creative work? Kingston used Ben E. King’s riddim to express his high school self-pity, warning a possible girlfriend that her good looks will make him want to kill himself if they break-up. Teenage angst paid off well, though: The song went to Number One on three continents. Ben E. King’s stand by me has been remade in different genres by Legendary acts like John Lennon, Junior Murvin, Maurice White, R – Kelly, U2 and Bruce Springsteen. In recent times, former Disney star, Miley Cyrus cut lyrics from “Stand by Me” into the chorus of “My Darlin’,” she and the perpetually Auto-Tuned Future rhyming the older song’s title with a promise to make a movie in the 3D and had contributions from Pharrell, Dr Luke and Mike Will I am. So Milet and Future did a perfect collabo as a remix. Even the Greatest, Muhammad Ali took a shot at recording an amazing version of the same song.

The just ended Grammy awards also nominated many songs that were covers of other songs. In fact, the album of the year won by Bruno Mars had all the songs in it sampled from originals by other musicians. And oh! My very own favourite musician of all time Jay Z sample “Bam” from Sister Nancy’s 1982 hit a rock on the 4:44 album. The album had the highest number of nominations at the Grammys this year. The album that got most people dancing around the world, Grateful by DJ Khaled. The timeless song, “Wild Thoughts “ which features “Bad Gyal” Rihanna and “Kojo fine boy” Bryson Tiller is just another good sample of Santana’s “Maria”. I bet you never knew?

As I mentioned earlier, there are copyright laws regarding how to go about a cover of someone’s creative work. I am not a lawyer so I would not dare into explaining those laws. I would leave that to my dearest, Annica Nsiah-Apau, wife and manager of Okyeame Kwame.

To the fans and lovers of Kuami Eugene, keep supporting the young talent. He has caused some “confusion” with his new song but give him a break, he’s done nothing wrong.

 

Jacob Kwaku Gyan
International Music Promoter/ Fmr Project Manager of Okyeame Kwame

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