Do you remember the time when music groups were a thing?
When a complete music collective was made up of groups of guys or girls with varying degrees of vocal prowess, all sandwiched into one sonic partnership.
That was a time when music sounded better with more people; when groups and bands were an in-road into mainstream music.
From the screeching melodies of KC & JoJo to the smooth boyish vibes of Backstreet Boys, groups back then, were a way to shoot your musical ambitions a note higher.
In Nigeria we had much the same mechanics, with music groups like Bracket, Maintain, and P-Square who at varying times in their musical life circle had the unmistakable advantage of two.
The congregation of music heads to form a band or duo has its undeniable roots in the four walls of the church. To deliver a melody line that was regarded as acceptable by a choir master, you needed at least two voices to mash up a pleasing harmony.
This ‘harmonic rule’ quickly followed those whose ambitions led them straight from the church choir into mainstream music, and so groups, duos and bands were formed.
Record labels and music stakeholders quickly recognized that to have a complete synchronized performance, they needed to sign a collective and so the trend thrived. Solo singers were hurriedly initiated into bands and duos to ‘complete’ their act and it quickly became a thing.
Back then, long before miming was considered acceptable to a listening audience, every performance was expected to be rendered live. So a group setup came in handy to create a performance that was both engaging and sonically complete.
Somewhere in the timeline of evolving music, technology interrupted common sense and show promoters eased down on how performances were delivered. They allowed a hybrid of live renditions with pre-recorded music that began a series of changes that would slowly destroy the need for a music collective or group.
Also, around that same time, record label executives discovered that it was cheaper to sign a one man act than it was to cater to a diverse four-man boy band, for instance.
They weighed the need of the few ( themselves) against the need of the many ( the audience) and soon started actively searching for an all-inclusive solo performer who could embody everything a group could and still make loads of money in the process.
It wasn’t long before artistes caught on and started positioning themselves and their music to embody both the melody of the duo or band and the diversity of their craft, while remaining solo.
The active search for groups or bands began to die.
In the Nigerian music industry today, there are no groups, bands or duos.
No record company is willing to take the risk of signing them; they are regarded as money pits.
Why sign a group and financially cater to more, when you can get a solo act with the clever use of technology to do much the same thing?
In the nearest future, as technology obliterates the music value chain, we will struggle to explain certain concepts to our wards; like what a ‘boy band’ is and why we considered them sonically relevant in the first place?
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here