3 Things Ugandan Urban Musicians should aim at achieving during their Music Careers
Being a musician is an amazing thing. Artists have the ability to transmit their message to a large number of people using the most universal language on the earth – music. A lot of change has happened in the Ugandan music industry over the last 10 years. However, there is still a lot of improvement our artists can make to become even more excellent at what they do. Listed below are three things that urban musicians should do in order to take Ugandan music to the next level.
Find brilliant ways to capture the sound of local Ugandan music in your projects so you can gain a loyal following among local and international music fans:
It is okay to work towards becoming the best hip hop/jazz/R&B/ or rock musician. However, I believe that an artist should not merely focus on being a legendary act in an already existent genre. They should think about creating a new musical pathway for themselves and other musicians to follow. One of the ways Ugandan urban artists can begin to achieve this is by creating a sound that bears resemblance to their country of origin. The number of Ugandans that can identify with American music genres is very small.
Most Ugandans will not pay to attend a concert for a genre of music that is totally alien to the sounds found in Ugandan culture. A lot of Ugandans prefer to listen to Reggae and Dancehall music because it bears strong resemblance to the local music that has existed in Uganda for ages.
If your music captures elements of local Ugandan music, your international audience will find interest in listening to it because it offers something different and yet similar all at the same time. An artist who has been successful at blending local Ugandan music and modern music specifically hip hop is Ruyonga. Listen to the song Empisa off his latest album Glory Fire. This song combines hip hop and local Ugandan music influences brilliantly. It feels like one is listening to a traditional song and hip hop song all at the same time. If you played this song for an old lady in a remote village, I am sure she would find something about the sound of the song to enjoy and nod her head to. I could say the same about an 18 year old Kenyan man living in Nairobi city who would listen to the same song. Experiment with your music and find creative ways to create a cocktail of local and international sounds.
Invest in music education
A lot of musicians lack a theoretical understanding of how music works. One of the reasons musicians have not invested in music education is because of the time and discipline it takes to develop a standard level of skill in vocal technique or playing an instrument. A lot of artists view music education as a prison designed to impair their freedom to express themselves creatively.
Imagine this scenario; two 18 year old ladies just out of high school are given a Mercedes Benz SLK convertible each to travel around the city of Kampala. However, before they can drive those cars, they are required to attend driving school for four weeks and pass their driving test. One chooses to pass up the opportunity while the other one chooses to enroll for driving lessons. The one who chose not to go to driving school felt that the driving lessons would be too difficult for her. She would rather keep using public transport than learn how to drive a car even though she knows that a vehicle would ease her travel around the city. The lady who chose to enroll for driving lessons did not pass her test after the four weeks but she remained persistent. She enrolled for more lessons until she was able to perfect her driving skill and pass the driving test. Afterwards, she was given keys to a brand new Mercedes Benz SLK convertible.
Who do you think will enjoy her travel around the city? It is the one who enrolled for driving lessons and passed her driving test eventually.
Music education is like the Mercedes Benz SLK convertible that was offered to the two ladies. Some artists choose to ignore music education and attempt to create amazing music without proper training. Those who choose to invest in music education will find that the education enhances their ability to express themselves creatively. This is because the techniques they have been taught enable them to create music that their fans will enjoy immensely.
Mentor upcoming musicians so that they can build upon your legacy
The late Dr. Myles Munroe said, “You are a failure if all you have accomplished in your lifetime ends with you.”
Established musicians should seek out upcoming musicians whom they can coach to the point where they are as good as you or even better. Some musicians do not want to train upcoming artists because they are afraid that these artists will become more popular than them. Established musicians should know that if they train an upcoming artist, chances are they will do the same for another artist too. This will create a ripple effect in the music industry for you genre if artists are actively helping each other master their craft. The result is the style of music that you do will become even more dominant in the industry. Mentoring upcoming artists gives you an opportunity to influence the lifestyles of those musicians and grow your genre of music through the lives of other musicians.
The future of Ugandan music is bright. As our artists focus on combining local and international sounds, investing music education and mentoring other artists, we shall see a golden age of Ugandan music begin to unfold.