Behind the Scenes: Music in UI and its Attendants Challenges

By: Habeeb Abdul

When people use the “all fingers are not equal” cliché, they are very likely referring to individual
socioeconomic statuses relative to the other person. As it turns out, it also applies to universities.
For instance, the University of Ibadan students are reputed for erudition but possess a far smaller
stature in the social arena compared to those from, say, the University of Lagos and Lagos State

Taking a step further, you realize that the learning centers in Nigeria’s commercial capital and
our friendly rival in the Ooni’s territory seem to boast more of the trending stalwarts in the
music industry than the first and the best.

Fireboy, Asake, Wizkid, Oxlade, and several others have tertiary backgrounds that consistently
exclude the University of Ibadan. Situated within the dynamic of our popular affection for
books, one wonders what it is like for UI artistes operating in an environment that cares
comparatively little for their craft. What also attracts questioning are mainstream industry factors
and how they play out on the home campus.

Composing, but Under Pressure

It is not unusual to observe students air the occasional doubt on the seriousness level of fun-
seekers and creatives, particularly in relation to classroom learning. This is even more obvious

at the University of Ibadan where the exceeding emphasis is laid on grades and the glamour of
academic achievements. For Cyprian Alakija, an Afrobeats artiste and 500-level student of
Petroleum Engineering, it is a question of balance and priorities. Rather than commit to a side
gig to shore up revenue, he opts for maintaining his first-class whilst investing in his passion for

Adeyinka Gold, a recent graduate of music who mentioned that he convokes alongside throngs
of others this week, considers it in a similar light. In response to my question on how he coped,
he stated, “it’s tough, of course, but multitasking isn’t new to anyone. I set my priorities and
work accordingly.” But while it appears that the sentiment among artistes mirrors the
doggedness among students when faced with multiple responsibilities, the institution’s pressure
is not the only thing that tugs at them.

Gold described the nightmarish effects of a creative block especially when an artiste is fully
booked. He suggests that these instances can be navigated by leveraging the outputs of other
artistes for fresh ideas.

Production, but for the Deep-Pocketed

Mainstream musical renditions in Nigeria are scenes worthy of an Investor Sabinus plot, only
this time it is no laughing matter and artistes cannot afford to get it wrong. According to data
from Alewa House, a technology-based creative hub in Nigeria, it costs around twenty thousand
naira to secure a beat from a local producer at a recording studio.

This cost spirals to three hundred and fifty thousand naira for popular producers, with some
charging as much as seven hundred and fifty thousand naira. This is exclusive of the other
processes involved in music production and will pan out with entirely separate costs if the artiste
decides to create a video.

Cyprian, whose performance days on UI stages are a few years behind him, stated that it cost
about fifteen thousand naira to purchase a beat. He calculates the full production cost as running
into thirty-five thousand naira. Gold’s estimate is within the same ambit, but with qualifications.
“In my case, I spend between 40 and 80k to get a track out. I would say this is the average cost
for a small to medium-scale production.” He extends this to the cost of marketing, submitting
that the actual overall total of releasing a song winds up at a much pricier tag.

Marketing, Performance, Payouts, and UI

Because upcoming artistes are essentially in a struggle to get noticed, marketing is one skill they
must all learn to use well. Oluwadara Samuel Armani, a 400-level student of Political Science
who styles as a maker of codeine afro and trap music, explained that he promotes his music
through reliance on his network.
Armani, who is also known as F-Dray, believes that his “reciprocal” nature helps with getting
people to distribute his music across board. He also stated that his publicity campaigns are no

longer directed at event planners on campus, rather, he hopes to reach the grassroots. He has
also set his eyes on the national stage as opposed to an ordinary base of UI students.
As for his objection to UI event planners, that bearing finds validity in his experiences. He cited
instances of being invited to perform for fifty thousand naira, less, or even nothing at all,
compared to his standard rate of between one hundred and fifty thousand naira to two
hundred. He concedes, though, that he would sometimes perform on campus for these subpar
rates because it is “school” and when it fits into his schedule.

Publicity for him also includes physical contacts, giveaways, and hiring influencers. He does not
dismiss the importance of a network, saying, “I try to carry my people along.” An additional
technique for music promotion is the boilerplate checklist of contacting blogs, “playlist curators,
TikTok influencers, and radio,” employed by artistes like Ademola Ibrahim Tarka (B-Rhymes),
a 500-level student of Petroleum Engineering.

Yet, despite the efforts and finances that go into production and marketing, artistes do not
always get the best returns. Streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music
remit peanuts to artistes in pay-per-streams. Spotify, easily the lowest among frontline streaming
apps, pays $0.0033 on each stream. Apple Music pays $0.01, both resulting in earnings of
$3,300 and $10,000 respectively on songs with a million streams. That one million is a tall
order for upcoming artistes goes without saying.

On the UI factor, Cyprian remembers his audiences being a total of about fifteen people. F-Dray
has had it better, intoning that he is fairly well-known for his music. And while Adeyinka Gold,
or Dark Gold the Rap Professor, as he was careful to tell me was the right moniker, has dabbled
into other opportunities like ghostwriting for mainstream artistes and writing songs for ads, I
have a distinct memory of him performing at Mellanby in my 100 level days. There, he was
greeted with cheers as he and a partner crooned an admixture of rap and melodious

All artistes were unanimous about the need for the university and the entire student community
to work to improve the lot of artistes in the University of Ibadan. For Gold, “there is nothing
wrong with having a campus Project Fame or Voice. I’m sure it will pull crowds if properly


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