Nigerian Djs and Albums: How Valuable Are They?

A couple of weeks back, DJ Xclusive of EME dropped a well-super-packed album and also had a standard concert to launch same album. Sadly, I didn’t attend due to my unavailability in Lagos but trust the social media to provide me with instant updates. Xclusive indeed, pulled quite a concert going by the reviews and pictures that came out, although it was filled up mostly with industry personalities who definitely got free access to the event.

A friend called me and said he planned on going for the launch but wanted me to get him complimentary tickets for both himself and his girlfriend – mind you this person is worth quite a sum but wanted the ‘effizzy’ of having an industry personality as a friend whom he could call to get event passes. I effortlessly got him two tickets and the next day after the event, he called and we discussed how the event went. He kept hitting on the fact that the concert was sold-out; in essence people turned out. I jokingly told him he got two free tickets to attend and reality dawned on him that most of the guests probably might have gotten free access also as attendance was based on reservations.

After that phone call, I marveled at how large the Nigerian music industry has grown allowing for DJs to record and release albums. In the past, we never really had DJs owning albums until Jimmy Jatt came out with “The Definition” and that I believe set the path for other DJs to follow suit.

Fast forward 3 years later and virtually every known DJ who hasn’t released an album yet has several singles out there. Business wise, it is assumed that these DJs get the collaborations for free, a case of “scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours” so they end up not paying artistes’ feature fees and probably offer to slam their songs at every gig they play.

This strategy has elevated quite a number of these DJs from just being streets DJs to becoming celebrity DJs, albeit they are still DJs and it takes a whole lot for people to come with terms with them as celebrities – probably also the reason why you may not really see pictures of people with DJs littered up on your Instagram or other social media platforms.

Personally, my respect for DJs is limitless because for every social gathering or event, a DJ’s duty is primary and cannot be superseded even by artistes – no wonder why every artiste accords respect to DJs whether established or not. There are even lots of songs being dedicated to DJs on a daily basis by these artistes.

Few years ago, I had a conversation with DJ Obi of Syndik8 Records and during our discussion, he made emphasis largely on the fact that he was not going to release any collaborations as a DJ, rather he would host a radio program where he could anchor and play simultaneously. At first I figured out that he didn’t want to do what every DJ was doing at the moment but he further explained and I understood his point. I had a few thoughts about it alone and frankly I also agree DJs shouldn’t be dropping singles, not to talk of super-packed albums with world class concerts to follow.

A few monetary calculations shows millions would be expended on such a project, although I had a couple arguments with a few persons about this but certainly, money will be spent and we are talking millions!

Let’s analyze the after effect of dropping an album as a DJ- increase in popularity, fan-base increase, credit of haven released an album, possible endorsement by brands and much more.

Ideally, this should be a huge plus for a DJ’s bank account since their primary target too is making money but let’s have a look at a real life situation; After DJ Jimmy Jatt dropped “Stylee” where he featured 2Face, Mode9 and Elajoe, little did we know he would be releasing an album which he actually did but how well did he sell and how much did the marketer who marketed the album pay?

I would be grateful if an “estimated” statistics can be provided for us to see because I believe most people would rather buy a mixtape where they think they can feel the spirit of the DJ playing – the reason why DJs are so important for events. A trip to alaba or even the streets shows how rampant mixtapes are.

No doubt Uncle Jimmy created a new trend for DJs which every present playing DJ should be grateful for; But mind you, this strategy perfectly presented itself for Jimmy Jatt and he took the opportunity quite alright but I guess dropping an album was going too far. Apparently, the after-effect wasn’t anticipated and it took him quite a few years to drop a second one.Yes, booking him right now for a gig is no child’s play as he charges per hour but who would actually spend so much or even afford his bills asides the likes of corporate brands and multinationals which happens not so often – his value solely based on the fact that he has being the longest known playing DJ in Nigeria.

DJ Neptune, one of the first DJs to get an endorsement (incase you are wondering, he was and still a MTN ambassador) went the mixtape way and trust me the effect is great compared to albums. Arguments could arise saying DJs have their time but I sincerely choose to differ; DJs stays relevant for how long they choose to.

I actually assume, these DJs should be more committed in selling their own individual skills but so far only a few have been able to show us their prowess. Some of these DJs are insanely talented in mixing, switching and the sorts that can’t even be imagined with the wheels but they don’t get to display these prowess on any of their singles which probably could build huge prospects from marketers.

I totally get the struggle for DJs to be shown the respect they truly deserve; A trend came up at a time when record labels started signing them as official DJs but truly that still didn’t add value to the money that came through to them. For instance, show promoters would consider a DJ Spinall over a DJ Caise even though the latter is signed to Choc City.

In all sincerity, DJs should focus more on showcasing their crafts rather than forcing themselves to becoming icons; truth be told, a DJ might claim ownership of a song but since he obviously cannot perform as an artiste, what then is the essence of recording a song?

Interestingly, these DJs understand the system. A friend of mine working in one of the top record labels in Nigeria once told me about a certain DJ who approached them to be signed on as an artiste. Sadly for him, the guys running the label are great businessmen who bluntly refused knowing fully well the booking rate for him as an artiste compared to his booking as a DJ would probably be nil.

If they all know how the system works, why then do they still put out materials as artistes? I imagined if a DJ put out contents showing his spinning skills on a frequent basis or him having a dedicated YouTube channel where he uploads videos of him scratching which can also serve as tutorials for upcoming DJs and even advertisement to brands. Distributing these contents in my own opinion seems more valuable than featuring an artiste on a song that at the long run you can’t get to perform. DJs’ duties are parallel to artistes’ and that means DJs aren’t artistes – a fact that needs to properly sunk into their heads.

DJ Cuppy for instance has a compilation project which shows her strength – House Mix; she has succeeded in carving out a niche for herself. Booking her for an event shows that asides the fact that you want her to entertain your guests with music, you also want to see how she makes house mixes and that’s a selling point on its own.

I honestly wish to see DJs being lauded the respect they deserve not because of their collaborations or albums but because of their prowess with the turntable.

 

Written by Anslem Jon [TheAJCompany]

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