What an Artist could learn from how Benjaah Edwards Released Amari Yesu.

So, I have been given a task by Wemix Ent to write an article. Originally it was supposed to be written by someone else but well, the team thought I should be the right person to write this article. Here I am putting down an article that should tell the few things I did right.

I need to say right about now that I do not consider myself to have arrived or even to be the epitome of success. However I believe, if the team which is in charge at wemix Ent thinks I did something right, then I probably have done something right.

Let’s dive in.

First. Plan. Plan. Plan.
I am assuming that by the virtue of the fact that you are a Christian artist, prayer and seeking God are a must. Now, about the planning thing, let me tell you a story. I wrote or rather arranged the song Amari Yesu in 2013 about December. Recorded it early 2014 and sat with it while I released I Am Here. Before I ever release a song, I try to have another backup song. One that would follow the current one I am releasing. This is really like a backup plan.

Second and maybe most importantly. Song artwork, and promotional tools.
I have noticed that before I listen to a song, I want to see the accompanying artwork. This is why I try to have good visual to accompany a song release. Please don’t treat this as a secondary thing and something that you just do as a by the way. I went to a good studio and took about ten pictures after having a good haircut and dressing the part.

Your artwork for the song or album should say a lot about the direction the song is taking. For example, I had done an RnB song “I am here” before releasing Amari Yesu. I thought some people would have expected me to do something along those lines, so, I needed the artwork to prepare the listeners for an African road trip. In fact, I requested my graphics designer from True Brands East Africa to use the words “Benjaah Edwards Brings You An African Sound.” Here the message went home and the song title worked with the artwork. I was happy.

While I am here writing, one of the people at wemix chips in to say artists need to have like schedules for taking pictures. It is very boring to have a song released with pictures we have been seeing on your social media since time memorial. Give us something new. Something that will catch our attention. We don’t mean the secular way of getting attention. Just have something fresh.

Social Media.
First of all, I don’t expect that an artist should be on social media for 24 hours but it helps to have a vibrant social media presence. Here I may just say, I have used my personal Facebook account more than the artist page and that’s an area of improvement for me. When it comes to Twitter which many people do not use, I find it so useful in very many ways. Forgive my teacher-like tone. There are things called hash tags. That’s for both Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms. With the song I am here I made a huge hash tag mistake that trickled down to the T-shirts I used for song promotion. The hashtag was #IamHereSingle. Problem was, it could be read to mean, “I (Benjaah Edwards) is Here single (Without a girlfriend). Thought that is true, it was not the message I wanted to put across. I wanted to say, this single is called” I am Here.” I guess it happens to the best of us. That was a lesson for my future projects. With #AmariYesu. It was an obvious hashtag because it is an African phrase and that means there would be few competing similar things. The wrong hashtag to use is things like #Celebrate #Party #NewMusic. Thing is just avoid things that people use every day. Better still; try checking out the hashtag to see how many people are using it.

The importance of having basic social media concepts is, you get to plan how to keep people talking about the song to the point that it gets to be the top trending topics in the area you want to reach. It may not happen all the time that your new release will trend but you can try. I was particularly happy that Amari Yesu did not just make it to the top ten Twitter trending topics but topped that list on and off for over three days. I am really honestly not bragging but it happened. For me, it was cool that two independent Twitter trends data collection sites all had Amari Yesu trending. I think I have written a lot about social media.

Online Promotions sites, blogs and personalities.
By the mere fact that I am here writing an article for wemix, you will know that I keep the team informed about what is happening. Wemix is of course the premier content promotions site. I know a few who I will not mention here……. lol.

This is the right course of action, please don’t expect sites that do promotions to look for you like Gold. The people sites want to work with are those who do not keep them in the dark. Please communicate. We need these people. Know their terms of service by asking. Find out what they want you to do in order for them to be of help to you. If for one reason or the other they ignore your content, be polite when asking for feedback. Getting angry with them won’t help you. Find out who does what and where.

During the release of Amari Yesu, Wemix did a promotional video that was posted to YouTube, another site had the lyrics ready for publishing because that is their main territory, I also sent information to a few blogs and people telling them of the plan. This meant that they were together with me throughout the whole process.

With Amari Yesu, I went to pick the song after releasing the artwork. My plan was to release artwork and relax for a week or two. One of the people from the sites I was communicating with advised me not to take too long. You see then that these people are worth keeping close to you. They may not be artists but they know a few things about what needs to be done to have a successful song release.

Up until now, I have talked about all the things that you should do without even thinking about radio. You can’t ignore the role of radio. That is not rocket science. Here I just have to say, communication is key. I was blessed to have Power Fm’s DJ Twonjex featuring my music on the Next Big Endorsement and then my appearance at Dance Party with DJ Peruz, DJ Muji and DJ Stef. The following day I was called on air to talk about the song on The Sunday Breakfast with Reagan on Magic Fm. There was another radio programming team that interviewed me for a program that is to be syndicated all over the country. I also talked to my friend and DJ Skamzac who did me the honors of premiering the song in my absence on Street 107 on Salt Fm. The music was sent to Paul Selah for Fm J and I talked to Lady Bezo of Spirit fm to have a possible song introduction to her show. There are countless things done behind the scenes that I cannot get into. There is no limit to possibilities if you simply try to communicate and talk to people. Right now, I am still praying and planning for more radio promotional ‘tours’

As a Gospel artist, there is a temptation to think about only the Christian platforms. Think outside the box. Be brave. Make sure you are proud of the song you are about to release. That way, you will have the passion and zeal while telling people they need to stop and listen to you. With Amari Yesu, I knew the message was in its season for me and basing on the fact that God caused me to throw away my previous verses to rewrite different verses, I knew He wanted the message out.

Please have a promotional budget too.
In this case I will site things like T-Shirts, Videos, Release Parties or something. Just find what works for you. I don’t want you to think I did everything, I could actually say God ambushed me with the Amari Yesu release. Everything just fell in place.

As a person, I am a critic of people’s material and direction they take. That means I am a bit too critical on myself as well. That’s both good and bad. The good thing is, it means, I take a long time with my songs before letting them out. However, this year, I will be doing a lot more releases and that mean more prayer and planning.

To the artist out there, have people who are not so bent on praising you. Christians can be very vain at times. They will ignore productions, delivery/vocals, dictions, lyrics as long as you are doing it for Christ. Please do your best and keep on learning. I repeat that I haven’t arrived.

Reverbnation and Soundcloud.
Do not think that posting a song on Reverbnation and Soundcloud means you have released the song. Do something extra. Especially if you are tired of releasing songs that go unnoticed. And by the way, don’t be discouraged when radio or some sites ignore your content. It happens that some times, they have a mind for something that you are not offering at that point. I know for a fact that, certain genres and production together with a certain way of singing may not work for some platforms. Each platform has a vision and a target market. That means, if they think your material is not for their market, they will ignore your content. It doesn’t mean that your content is trash (though sometimes it actually is, for lack of better words, trash). I hate sounding mean, but sometimes we artists think we know what we are trying to say when we don’t. Some people are caught up in the excitement of having been in studio and just release half-baked songs.

I also know that sometimes very good songs go unnoticed. It happens.

Now, I am wondering whether I am still talking about how I released Amari Yesu. I hope you could pick just one thing from this article. I hope it helps someone. This is not a template to use but view of what paths to take when it comes to letting out a song. I cannot exhaust everything, seeing that I am learning. Did I mention how I changed my Twitter name to Amari Yesu in like September 2014. That means, I had the song release in mind for over four months. Do you expect something that is planned for a few days to be successful?

I cannot finish all this without saying thanks to all my people who stood with me during the whole process while offering thoughts, changing their names on Twitter to Amari Yesu and using the artwork as their Facebook profile pictures. The list is endless.

Finally. Finally. Finally. Only God can take the glory from all that he gave me grace and strength to do because I honestly was given an empowerment from God that I asked myself where it had come from.

If I have forgotten something, sorry…. hahaha

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