In this post I’ll try and tell you some of the basic steps you need to take on your road to stardom as a musician. This is by no means a definite guide but rather a pointer to some of the proven steps you’ll need to take if you want to be noticed as a musician. One thing you have to put at the back of your mind is that music is an art form and no one style appeals to the general populace. That being said, I think it would be wise to warn you that making music can be extremely tedious and expensive in terms of your personal time and resources so please DO NOT USE FUNDS MEANT FOR VERY IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES TO FINANCE YOUR MUSIC CAREER. There are no guarantees in making music so please avoid spending your school fees or rent or money set aside for health purposes in making music. With that out of the way, I’ll jump straight to the first step.
Isn’t it obvious that to make music, as is with other art forms, you have to have at least the basic understanding of music itself? Do not kid yourself. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry can make music and to make music that will appeal to a wide range of listeners you need to have a solid grounding on the fundamentals. Get some education. There are a lot of schools that offer solid musical education in Nigeria, one of which is the Muson center in Lagos. Get enrolled and take advantage of their vast resources to better yourself as a musician. If that route doesn’t suit you, you could enroll with a church choir even if you do not get to sing always with them. You’ll benefit from the experience of older choristers. There are also private music coaches available to you if you so desire. If you have difficulties locating them you can leave a request on my contact form and I’ll respond with the contact details of some of the coaches I work with.
When you are sufficiently educated, you’ll need to have a song. This step is tricky and you’ll need to explore your strengths. Making a good song requires some experience. It is not enough that you have a few words strung up together, you need to have a certain knack for conveying emotions with words. After all you are dealing with a certain type of poetry here. Like with the previous step, you can enlist the help of professionals here too. There are songwriters available to help you at a fee. If you have some confidence in what you have written yourself, you can sing it to your friends and family to hear their critique. This can be very helpful as their opinions would be an early indicator of your progress.
When you are satisfied with your song, then it is time for you to find a producer to produce your song. It is worthy to note that at this point, you should start accounting for everything you spend on. It is absolutely important that you have a sizable budget as recording a song can be expensive. Your choice of producer should be based primarily on his ability to make the kind of music that you hope to make. It is also important that he has a vast knowledge on how songs are made. I think I should also elaborate on the difference between a producer and a studio engineer because these two are often confused. A producer is largely responsible for the sequencing, arranging and directing the song. He can work with other producers and/or instrumentalists to achieve this. The producer often has the final say on a song. The studio engineer on the other hand handles the actual recording and probably mixing of the song. He takes direction from the producer. It is not uncommon to find a producer that seconds as a studio engineer though. So when you secure a producer for your song, make sure he/she understands what you aim to achieve with the song.
When that is done, it is now time to hit the studio. This is when it starts getting exciting. Choose a studio that is best equipped in your price range. Most studios offer per session and per song packages. While it’ll be more expensive to opt for the per song package, it is more rewarding than the per session package because the per session package often comes with a time limit of an average of eight hours. This time is not very reasonable if you are not sufficiently prepared or if the song has a complex arrangement. It is also not the best package for you if you have a lot of musicians involved in your song as it would be required to take multiple instances of their performances. Making a song like every other art form requires patience and the per session package does not allow for that. My advice to you is that you should always opt for the per song package.
On the day that you decide to record make sure that you are well rested. Contrary to urban legends, alcohol consumption can be detrimental to your overall performance. Try to abstain from alcoholic beverages if you can. It will do you a whole lot of good if you have rehearsed the song thoroughly but try not to strain your voice. You’ll also benefit from light exercises, especially ones that strengthens your diaphragm. Swimming and light jogging are very good.
In the next post I’ll elaborate on the actual process of making a song.
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