Friday, March 02, 2007
CDs for Cedis: Making Money Doing Hiplife
"So why did you get into hiplife?"
"Well, I had been watching these music video clips from abroad and I thought it just looked so cool. Tupac, Biggie, Ja Rule...Now we have our own style."
"Of course. But why else did you start doing hiplife?"
"Because I wanted to make some money, be a big guy like Obour, Tic Tac, Tinny..."
Some people get into hiplife for the (perceived) opportunity of making money. One of the most common things I heard from people involved with hiplife was that the music industry (hiplife in particular) is providing the youth with all kinds of employment. Ghana is about to celebrate 50 years of independence (on March 6), but most of the older folks I know in Ghana have told me that the standard of living is worse now than it was in the mid-to-late 1960s. So it comes as no surprise that so many student-age young people see hiplife as a viable employment option.
The music industry in Ghana is really it's own thing altogether. Pretty much everything is curiously different from what goes on in not only N. America and Europe but neighboring places like Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and Mali. Think about where you're from and how the music scene is there and consider this:
What many people the world over know as the "executive producer," i.e. the guy with the money, is known in Ghana as simply the "producer." A small difference, but this was confusing to me at first. I thought producer refers to someone involved with actual music making, the creative end of things. Not the case in Ghana, where the producer is the guy who puts up the money for an artist to record his album.
These guys have written their own rules to the music business, Ghana-style. Considering the fact that most hiplife producers lack a background in music or entertainment, it's not that surprising. One cool thing about hiplife is that it provides a platform for amateur performers to grow into professionals with a bit of energy and money. It also provides the opportunity for aspiring moguls to get their feet wet in entertainment, on the cheap. The mountains of "underground" hiplife tapes (or small-time limited distribution, usually casette-only, releases) from all over the country are made for far less than $2000 in most cases. If a song becomes a hit and the group gets lots of high-paying gigs, the producer makes some money on his investment. That's not to say making a profit is easy in the hiplife game (see below).
These producers get things done, multitasking is the name of their game. From manager to booking agent to publicist to accountant, most producers cover all the bases at once. I was told this is because of a shortage in finances, which makes it difficult to pay a different person to do each of the many jobs. And, since so many of the tasks involve greasing palms with thick wads of cash, it makes financial sense to have one person fulfill most roles at once. Payola can tap a producer's resources quickly. But it also possibly focuses all trust and money-making potential in one place. Although I don't think I have much evidence of that notion. Just a hunch...
These hiplife recordings sell 100,000 units tops, usually FAR fewer. In rare cases, hiplife cassettes have sold upwards of 400,000. If the street price of a cassette is 10,000 cedis, roughly $1.15, and there is usually a distributor or depot that's getting a cut somewhere along the way, you're not talking about enormous sales profits. CDs sell for around 75,000 cedis, or around $8.65, so there's a bit more of a profit there. But most major hiplife CDs are manufactured in England or Europe so there are extra costs involved as well.
You want your new single on the radio in one of the big cities? 1 or 2 million cedis (around $115 or $225) is often all it takes to get a B-status DJ to makes sure your shit gets spun regularly. Of course, with more than 14 radio stations in the Accra area alone, it won't be easy getting your music played by every DJ on every station, unless of course you have a truckload of Ghana's often soiled and stanky bank notes. Rumour has it that some of the big name guys and gals in urban radio are taking up to 5 million cedis to put a song in heavy rotation. Good luck with that, youngsters...
... And that's where the producer comes in. There's the all-too-common story I would hear: young person discovers his talent in the schoolyard/church/street corner, elder relative/neighbor/businessperson catches wind and a lightbulb goes on in their head and/or the young person approaches them for advice/money/support/all the above and they decide to help/invest in them. Artist and "producer" live happily/unhappily ever after (with the occasional drama and/or divorce, of course). The artist is at the complete will of the producer, who nrmally buys the rights to the album outright, thereby collecting the CD/cassette sales profits for himself.
There's a post about tv advertising and hiplife. These days, the biggest names in hiplife are making more money from product endorsement deals than record sales.
More to come.
my own ideas about a producer's role, informed by hip-hop's hands-on blurring of engineer-musician-producer, needed to be revised after encountering this other, and indeed more longstanding, notion.
good to see you back on the blog, and with a big post, too.
thanks for commenting, wayne.
All the best,
"This Dj concerto, in four parts, takes you on a journey into sound denoting the best part of hip hop, the soul of the music. "The Little Green Tape" is perfect to vibe out to. Repeat is a must."
And that's why you are continually reincarnated. Welcome to the Matrix.
7 billion in 2011. Only 1 billion in 1800 and 2 billion in 1900.
Population explosion is a clue::::The gods are sending everyone back for The End.
There must be some purgatory-like place. Or individual. Like an animal.
Now the gods have sent everyone back to try for one final time to fix their problems and ascend into heaven. Avoiding an animal would have been a big positive because those thrust into this decayed enviornment have less of a chance than those who enjoyed the god's generosity of a slowly decaying enviornment with frightening clues, like the Depression, World at War, the Holocaust, etc.
Anything that can get the poeple frightened and praying is a good. thing. Contentment never motivated anyone.
As we approach the Apocalypse the gods are removing "wrath of god" material from xtian dogma.
As we see wickedness spread throughout the country, like preditory behavior, godlessness, social changes, etc, using cable TV and the spread of "Californication" as justification, they changed xtianity, appropriatly with Catholicism first.
xtianity has changed radically in the 20th century, and everyone should be mindful of the way it was, because the people are in a process of slipping out of god's favor into a state of Damnation, from which the vast majority will never survive.
They used to scare people and make them too afraid to make mistakes. Now people aren't afraid of anything and don't think twice about doing something wicked and evil which will hurt their chances.
Good god says a ceiling on time for everyone (see below). Evil god still gives hope for immortality to people who subscribed to preditory behavior:::Immortality if you are right versus a couple centuries partying at best even if you change now.
Due to institutional evil the closer we get to The End the more evil everyone incurrs (with individual variation due to behavior) which limits the time for everyone.
Probably the children who fix their problems and ascend into heaven as well. Experiencing the evil of modern life in the 20th century costed them, for which limits are placed. They are not the same as their innocent peasantry ancestors from the Old World.
You people have fucked up bad by not getting out before the 20th century.
Just because the gods have to break some eggs doesn't mean they are evil. As management there are hard decisions that must be made. But they used this omelette and sold it to people as temptation, who went out and did things they shouldn't have done thinking being preditory was the way to "earn" their way into heaven.
Employment charity:::Was W able to do his job as President?
I suspect there are many frat-boy types who couldn't or wouldn't study nor do the work necessary so they gained this "benefit" telepathically. This could have been extended to their professional life as well::In most of these cases they don't have what it takes to do their jobs. It is temptation which buys their confidence for life, ensuring no progress is made.
I think employment charity is FAR more common than people may believe.
Another example how they tempted people in this manner is the procurement of sexual relations.
Keep raping these poor girls. You're going to end up as one in your next life.
Another feature which the Gods offer as a clue is very foreboading and ominous. Mt. Zion is a mountain to the north of Diablo (the eye of The Beast) and one which has a working quarry at its base. Consistant with the decay we experience in society, Mt. Zion is being eaten away, slowly stripped of its resources, until one day paradise will be gone forever.
If people only understood the importance of good parents. You won't be going anywhere without them. And it won't happen unless you are one first.