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In 1990 public internet didn’t exist. The only means of reaching fans were through television, radio and shows/tours. Fast forward to the 2000s the internet has become a global network for connecting people around the world. People spend time on the internet more than having conversations offline. The world’s richest were able to achieve that height because they created a dot com business. The internet has come to change music, its consumption and artiste-fan relation. Getting intimate with fans is just a Facebook Live video away, and making news is just by a 280-character tweet. People don’t queue for albums no more, it’s streamed or purchased online. Streaming platform managers and curators are the real illuminati of music. Apple Music, Spotify and the like are the new record labels.
In Ghana, people have taken time to study how the internet could be used to market their craft, and have made it work for them. I won’t take you so many years back. Let’s have a look at last year, we saw many acts rise up on the internet circles of music, and gradually turn it to a solid fan base and some good cash. Amongst those acts are La Meme Gang members, Darkovibes, RJZ and Spacely. Also, Ground Up’s Kwesi Arthur. I’m sure it was a difficult task for them, because social media is a world where people who can’t even speak in public become loud mouths. Digital gangsters and keyboard mobsters are quick to come at artistes online and rain insults on them because of very small issues.
These guys were shown love, and bit by bit, day by day, their fan base grew till traditional radio started accepting them and giving them some airplay. When they were struggling to get heard these guys never sent any email to bloggers at all (I stand to be corrected), neither would they share links to their songs from blogs (well, unless it’s DCLeakers). They’d just upload their songs on SoundCloud, and push it via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and they were quite okay with it.
With the repetitive sound that Ghanaian music had been experiencing lately, the creatives used the opportunity to take over with pure talent and a wavy style appreciated by the youth. They gave a new definition to Afro-Trap, Hip-Hop, Trap and Afrobeats. The youthful music consumers of Ghana today have an ear for adventure. They get fed up listening to monotonous sounds on the mainstream media, hence pay much attention to what SoundCloud and YouTube rappers and singers have to offer.
Darkovibe’s “Tomorrow” wasn’t an overnight success. Neither was “Mercy.” I saw him perform to a crowd in Legon in 2017 who looked at him like he a noise-maker and jumping grasshopper. In that same year, every corridor had echoes of “Tomorrow” and the people wouldn’t stop chanting when Darkovibes stepped on stage with the song.
Kwesi Arthur was seen bare-chested spitting bars in freestyle videos all year. You could feel the pain in his verses, and sense the struggle in his voice. He kept on doing that till much attention was given to his hit single “Grind Day.” Today, Kwesi Arthur has been endorsed and featured by Ghana’s ace rapper Omar Sterling. BET award winner, Sarkodie has delivered a free 16 to the remix version of “Grind Day”. And only Lord knows the songs he’s sitting on as I type this.
I love Spacely’s “Digits.” Serallio (a hangout in Osu, Accra) wouldn’t keep it off rotation. RJZ is easy to point out because of his model figure — six packs, dyed hair and melanin-rich skin. Song by song, they’re taking over the music scene and serve as threats to those on top. If with the internet they’re able to host their own sold out shows, and be placed on bills, then I can only wonder where they’d reach if much capital is invested into their art.
Internet has worked for some artistes, and still works for new acts as time rolls by. You can also be a success off the internet.
Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori