Nigerian-born Afro-R&B singer Brymo has described the Nigerian music industry as unprofitable for artists who invest their time to give fans good music. Born Olawale Ashimi, Brymo spoke on the Nigerian music industry, his personal music brand, his new record deal, and his plans for the future in a recent interview with the Cable.
The 30-year-old was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, as the only child of a carpenter and a petty corner store owner. Brymo grew up in a multi-faith household and says he was inspired to create music after listening to his mother sing along to numerous fuji songs.
Growing up, Brymo got into constant fights with other kids from his neighbourhood, but during his teens, he started to focus more on his talent and love for music. After high school, he enrolled at Lagos State University (LASU) to study zoology, but dropped out in his sophomore year to pursue music.
In 2007, Brymo released his debut studio album, titled Brymstone. In 2010, he became a household name in Nigeria and around Africa after getting featured on Iceprince’s monster hit “Oleku.”
His second studio album, TheSonOfaKapenta, was released in 2012 and was supported by the hit singles “Ara” and “Good Morning.”
Brymo’s third studio album, Merchants, Dealers & Slaves, was released in October 2013. His fourth and fifth albums titled Tabula Rasa and Klitoris were released in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
During his decade-long career, Brymo has gained a reputation of being a colourful character who consistently refuses to go the “commercial” route with his songs.
In recent years, he has managed to produce chart-topping music despite being embroiled in a series of controversies that rocked have rocked his career.
“Every single time I grab a pen to write a song, I’m trying to write a song that’s better than the song I wrote before. So that ideology sort of creates a behavioral pattern for me that I must constantly adhere to.
“I am an artist first before I’m a businessman. So the passion and drive to create music like great people I used to listen to when I was younger, that is what’s pushing me.”
Brymo dug into the Nigerian music industry, slamming what he believes is a poor remuneration structure that sees even the biggest artists struggle to get paid.
“The industry itself is set up in such a way that the music can barely make that much money for the musicians, so fame is being used as the medium to generate income for artists.
“So because you’re really, really famous, you can then align with some corporate bodies, firms, government agencies, and do something for them and then they pay you.
Brymo said record label executives can get away with disrespecting artists and getting them to sign contracts with slave-like conditions because the industry is full of entertainers looking for their one big break.
“There are issues with how much the albums are sold for. There are issues with how royalties are being collated and paid.
“And then there are like a thousand and one artists. So there is so much availability of the goods that the goods then lose value. So if I cannot buy from you, I’ll buy from him. So there is really very little value attached to the musicians now.”
He decried the rampant piracy of creative works that has nearly crippled the music industry, describing the authorities as weak and ineffective at tackling what is easily the single biggest challenge facing the industry.
“All of the pirates are now online. You drop an album and they leak all the songs. All of the marketers are now online. They sell the album for N150 [$.30].
“They are selling albums for N150 in digital space. Why? N150 for a Nigerian album? Why? It’s ridiculous. Not even N1,000, not even N500? For a music album?”