As founder of a boutique PR agency in Lagos – BWL Agency – Ronke Bamisedun takes the stage here and reveals the intersection between music and tourism and how best artistes and other game players in the industry can leverage tourism for massive promotion.
– By Ronke Bamisedun
Music and football, I believe, are massive deals for Nigerian tourism. The sound on the street globally right now is African and Nigeria is leading. We are music people; music is very important to us culturally, that is why many companies use people from the music industry as their brand ambassadors. Due to this, there is no better time to tap into the tourism industry. The African sound of the street can draw people into Nigeria. For instance, people should come to Nigeria because they want to see Fela’s shrine. We can also have a big music festival like the Coachella festival in California that will attract people from all over the world who are fans of Nigerian musicians.
The Role of Tourism in Promoting Artistes
Tourism helps in promoting the artistes and the artistes as well help in promoting tourism, whether we are importing or exporting culture. For example, when international artistes come to Nigeria, they get to interact with their fan base in Nigeria and promote their art. In the same vein, all of these artistes have a fan base and following in their home country. When they come, their experiences in Nigeria are amplified on social media and it looks like they are having fun. It gives someone who has never been to Nigeria another perception of the country, thereby promoting our culture. And that changes the narrative that they were used to.
In the UK, for example, choosing a venue is based on capacity and how much the label thinks the artiste can generate. There are certain venues that would work for certain types of artistes and locations can also be chosen based on fan base. The goal is to fill up the venue. It also works that way in Nigeria but it is slightly different because the artistes work with sponsorship. The location that the sponsor pays for will determine the venue. It doesn’t mean the artiste can fill up the venue but for the sponsors, they just put down the money, it doesn’t matter. There is really not much technique to it though, it is simply business sense. An up and coming artiste would, for instance, not be put on a large stage. And many of the current successful artistes have gone through that phaseof performing onsmaller stages when they were just starting out. Picking locations is simply based on numbers.
Earning Big with Tourism
Tourism is not all about getting endorsements and brand sponsorships. What Nigerian artistes need to ask themselves is how they can promote Nigeria out there. For instance, they can leverage the culture and tourism industry to support their travels outside the shores, if they can drive their case on how their music or performance will promote Nigeria and its culture. The point is for them to show value.
Getting Started with Tours
It is impossible to effectively organise tours if management is poor. We come from a culture where many musicians have family or friends as members of their team; maybe people that supported them when they started. And these people often times are neither experienced nor do they have the qualifications to be managers. Looking at the music industry, you see that it is hardly structured as a business.
In the West, there are organisations and other professionals in charge of putting together tours on behalf of the artistes or the record labels. It is not a one-man manager or record label show. There is a lot of work that goes into it and a team of one and even five cannot put it together. But we don’t have that here in Nigeria.
Before I can give advice to an artiste who seeks for affordable ways to go on tour, I will ask certain questions like; what kind of artiste are you and why are you going on tour? Who is going to come to it? Is it going to be a free gig? There has to be an amount of revenue brought in before you think of music tours. Exceptions could be University tours or open mic sessions to promote and build your fan base.
The most affordable way is to look for opportunities where you don’t have to pay for your cost; transport, logistics, a location you can get to without having to spend the night, friends you can spend the night with, etc.
Secondly, find out the existing platforms that you can key into. You can also be an opening act for another more successful artiste. That way, you can tap into their fan base and use their instruments. But, they might not pay you except you are lucky enough to find one who does.
Thirdly, be conscious of the nuances of that environment. Nigeria is very different; different cultures abound. For instance, if you are going to a dominantly Muslim environment, will you drink freely or stay modest? Stay away from anything that can tarnish your brand. Artistes should have people who give them media training and show them how to behave in specific environments. Maintaining a professional front with fans is also important. You have no business giving a fan a lift or taking him or her to your room.
If you’re travelling with a band, it’s also not difficult. It all depends on in-house structure. You have to make clear arrangements before accepting to perform. State what you require; the number of people in your band, the instruments they are using, the type of transportation and accommodation and talk it through. Difficulties only occur when people are not prepared. Everything should be settled way ahead.
The simplest and most effective way to be heard internationally is via social media. Social media is very powerful right now. Be very active on social media, upload your work and get your friends to share it. You never know who might hear it. Connect with DJ’s and give them your music. The more locations your music is played at, the more recognition you receive.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read more articles.