Why Child Singers Never Succeed in Nigerian Music Industry

Writing for Pulse.ng, Joey Akan in this piece explains why child stars find it hard to succeed in the Nigerian music industry.

“The Nigerian music industry with its setup today will never produce a child star. The above statement has a definite tone of finality to it, which might seem a little disruptive to the optimistic part of you which still believes in ‘catch them young’. The music industry as it is set up, is harsh for budding child stars that have dreams of being the next 2face Idibia, for many reasons.

The lack of structure is the primary killer to these dreams. The Nigerian music industry, for all its growth and invasion of world music markets, has no definite structure. Away from all the hype, PR and musical releases, we operate in a lawless market, where the copyright laws are obsolete, and the enforcers of it, lackadaisical. When an exception to the rule happens, and someone does decide to follow the rule of law to make these laws matter, profiteering is his ulterior aim.

Distribution channels are weak, people don’t buy music, and even the disconcerted efforts by certain groups to distribute music commercially, come across as too little and lacking in synergy. Alaba International Market still stands tall as the den of offline intellectual thieves and pirates. How can this work for the kids?

The money bosses don’t buy the idea of investing in children. It’s tough already for an established grownup talent. Kids will be a charity project with no business value. Remember Tosin Jegede, the child star who bestrode the Nigerian music scene like a colossus in the 80s? Renowned for persuasive lyrics, ‘urging parents to listen to their children and pay their school fees’ among other hit tracks, today, she is a really matured, beautiful girl radiating with life.

Tosin relocated to the UKto further her studies after releasing two albums. In her days, her music videos enjoyed generous air play on NTA Channel 5, 7 and 10. She left the shores of the country about 18 years agoand then returned briefly in 2005 to stage a visual arts exhibition of some of her works.

That’s the last true child star the country produced at a time when we still had sanity in Nigeria. Her story, while impressive at the start, ended badly.

Currently there are a number of children who do music. They include Mya K, Amarachi, Ozzybosco, BoyChyko and a number of others. For all of these kids, the hustle to be relevant and monetize their craft is an interesting one. All of them have one thing in common: they are financed and managed by their mothers. How much does a mother make to run a household, and sponsor the music career of a child?

This is the peril of maternal sponsorship. The family goes broke for a dream that has a low probability of transitioning into money. A child’s talent, which intrinsically is a blessing, becomes a curse for the entire family. I have seen this happen on many levels. Nigeria just isn’t ready for this.

As an alternative to budding child singers, parents should invest in their children’s talent, in line with their education. Extracting them from this pathway and support system, and grilling them to be pop stars is an effort at futility. It won’t work. It will only hurt the family, and the child.

Let your children sing in the local choir, in children competitions, in classes, gatherings and for other children. But no child in contemporary Nigeria can be a superstar. The country isn’t set up for that.” Pulseng

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