July 21, 2010
The music industry
I think I’ve been researching the wrong industry. I wanted to get a broader perspective on my research, and since I had met the musician Vocal Slender on my flight, I thought he could introduce me to some people in the music biz. Yesterday he took me to meet the producers and managers of some of the big names in Nigerian music, and their level of hospitality and eagerness to help floored me. From every person, I either got tons of free CDs and/or a free meal. I was speaking with a band manager when someone brought in his dinner. I made to leave, and he said, “Wait, you’re not eating with me?” Suddenly I was served the biggest and most delicious meal I’ve had yet in this country. He also gave me both a Coke and a beer, which I didn’t entirely know what to do with. The oddest bit though was that he just turned on the TV to MTV music videos and stopped talking. “You can turn your chair around to watch,” he instructed. So we just sat together watching Usher and 50 Cent videos in silence until we were both finished.
When I went to the next producer’s office, there were two men idling in the lobby; one was a photographer, and the other a documentary filmmaker, neither of whom had found work that day. So when my interview began, suddenly it was being filmed and meticulously photographed. There are probably about 25 extreme close-ups of my face as I ask, “So how long have you been in the business?” Afterward, everyone wanted photos, so we spent maybe half an hour rearranging ourselves in every possible group combination.