One of the first things I was told when I joined the music industry is that it is hard to make money in the industry from your music.
This is the only truth that you should know. Making money from music worldwide is a very tricky game. You have to show extreme levels of skill, or a killer strategy to be able to generate funding. In Nigeria, you have to work extra hard to earn enough money to balance your books. And most times, hardwork isn’t enough, you need luck.
A Nigerian artist only begins to make enough to balance his books after he has a song that becomes popular. After that, he is booked for concerts where he charges a performance fee, and then he can attempt to sell the music via digital platforms and content marketing platforms. But the truth remains that it is still a hard business.
For your books to balance, you have to earn more than you spend. And artists generally spend a lot. Creating the public lifestyle of star is extremely expensive. The cars, the house, the freshest clothes, expensive trips, and the little numerous purchases that make you look like a star is expensive.
This can be achieved easily if you are making money from the art. But when you aren’t, that’s when there’s a problem.
Dammy Krane was arrested in Dade County, Miami, Florida. The singer is currently in jail for grand theft, credit card and identity fraud. The mug shot of Dammy Krane appeared on the Internet not too long ago. Dammy Krane’s name on the mug shot is Johnson-Hunga Oyindamola Emmanuel.
Dammy Krane isn’t making money from the art at the moment. The ex-Hypertek man who got a cosign with 2016 from Davido is on his own. He isn’t signed to any record label, neither has he recently released a song that has gone popular. He also isn’t a big artist with a strong emotional pull or evergreen hits which would make him still get concerts regardless of whether he releases music.
And so, without a hit record and performance fees, without endorsement fees, or brand engagements, where does the money come from?
In cases like these, artists are drawn to many things, and ‘many things’ aren’t always legal. Artists generally have no skill that does not involve the music. Recording and performing are generally the only two productive skills that they have. Take that away from them, and they will have a hard time staying up as productive members of civilized society.
This is why they hustle to their last breath to make sure the music pays. And only a minute percentage of these stars become successful.
The worst hit musicians are the ones who become celebrities for a short while, make some money, but also incur the public pressure of meeting up to standards. They are forced to maintain the expensive façade of success that comes with being a celebrity in Nigeria.
Dammy Krane is one of them. He has fallen so far from the kid everyone loved and looked forward to his new music. He is on the fringes of the game and needs funding to come back in. His affiliation with Davido in 2016 was not official. There were no papers signed, no funds released, and hence, nothing was a go.
Credit card fraud, yahoo, money laundering and a few other illegal ways, are the go-to schemes for many of the acts. Being in the game is capital intensive, and to make enough, they have to go outside the law and throw themselves into some high-risk activity. They rarely ever get caught.
But sometimes the law gets one over them. They are busted, named, shamed and locked up. Think of the famous cases of Sinzu (Sauce Kid). Dammy Krane has become a part of that circle.
The lessons here are numerous. Not all that glitters is truly real gold. Not all that is shiny holds true value. Artists have to develop backup plans for rainy days. The music won’t always bring in the millions. The songs won’t bring the cash home forever. What happens after that will be a result of your planning and saving.
For the fans, understanding that the music business isn’t the most lucrative endeavor on earth will lower expectations. Music videos aren’t real. Neither are most of the things celebrities sell to you. Stay woke, and stop expecting much from the stars. That way, when they fail, you can stretch out your hands and say “I understand.” Or just shake your head, and call them out for their actions.