Iyanya, Timi Dakolo, Omawumi, Praiz, Chidinma all have one thing in common, they all leaped onto the music scene through music talent show platforms. Whether it is MTN Project Fame or Nigerian Idols; they promised to produce stars like the night sky.

Musical talent shows are seen as moulds that take in raw music talents, refine them, equip them and present them to the public as fine music stars. In the past, graduates from these platforms ride on the buzz generated by the show and launch from there. Chidinma for instance, was an instant click. She dropped ‘Kedike’ almost immediately after winning the prestigious MTN Project Fame in 2010 and from there she rose to become one of the leading musicians in the Nigerian music industry. MTN Project Fame was the foundation upon which her career took off. Other talent show alumni such as Praiz, Iyanya and Timi Dakolo had slow starts to their careers but after the period of orientation in the industry, they soon joined the league of musical stars.

The new generations of musical talent show graduates however have struggled to make it outside the ‘house’. Many of them struggle with the intensity and demands of the industry. So much so, that after the first couple of songs, subsequent releases struggle to get to the mainstream. It now appears that artistes coming out of the maze of the streets manage to remain in the mainstream while new generation musical talent show graduates get buried.

Considering that musical talent show participants are believed to have undergone some of the best musical training available in this part of the world, it becomes quizzing to think that many of them struggle to even launch their music career. Without doubt musical talent show stages in Nigeria have hosted some amazing voices, voices that do not fail to thrill fans watching from the screens of their television. During these shows, these participants build so much aura around them with their incredible performances that they leave fans voting keenly for favourites. Fans then go on to tip their favourites for greatness. But many of these gems fail to make it in the industry.

One thing is certain, it cannot be said that the problem is lack of quality musical trainers. The organizers of many of these shows manage to retain the same quality trainers; many of these shows still have fine musical experts such as Cobhams, Uncle Ben, Miss Ige that trained the Iyanyas and the Chidinmas, yet the new breed of talent show graduates fails to make it out of the platform.

It also cannot be that there is a paucity of musical talents in the country. In fact, the country is flooded with musical talents. Evidence to this is the mass of musical stars that burst onto the scene, among them is Kiss Daniels, Simi, Adekunle Gold. These artistes perhaps never got the quality of training that musical talent show participants get, they probably only started out with their raw talents, refined by the experiences of life itself, those gathered from their studio-to-studio drifts and with persistence, they become musical superstars. Since musical talent show graduates requisitely have talents and they get it refined by gurus, why then have they been failing to make the grade in recent times?

It is agreeable that the music industry is continuously evolving, always with new trends and new vibe. This is perhaps why Chidinma clicked in the industry of then and the new breed of talent show stars struggle in today’s industry.  The evolving musical industry demands a change in approach from the conventional vocal contest approach. Although I believe that a good voice is a necessity in the industry, however I think it is not enough. Talent show contestants have great and sonorous voices but you need more than good voice to make monster hit songs. Most of the musical talent shows base their judgment on vocal technicality of the contestants. The judges want to see high level of breathe control, pitching ability, vocal texture and compact stage performances of other artistes’ song but out there in the industry, the demand for confam gbedu is the highest, this is where talent show products fail to deliver.

A different and proven to-be-effective approach to meet the demands of the music industry is to judge upcoming artistes based on their composition ability. Contestants are usually trained about the art of singing, most times singing other people’s songs; then they are taken to the field where you win fans by singing your song, would you say the preparation is apt? I would not. I think organizers, facilitators, scouts and even upcoming artistes should give serious consideration to composition ability because it is the tool that works in the industry of today. Good composition wins you fans and fan base is the currency of our industry today. A great composer but barely good vocalist is more likely to thrive in an industry such as ours than for barely good composers but amazing vocalists to thrive. With this, talent shows products would be better blend of song-writing and singing and thus better prepared for the dynamics of the industry.


This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets

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