Nigeria’s growing snippet culture has benefited its music industry in many ways, but those benefits are not without their fair share of side effects. With many Nigerian artists constantly leveraging snippets to promote their music, there are some underlying issues that bear mentioning. To understand how something most people have praised for being a good marketing tactic for artists can have some negative side effects, we need to first of all understand Nigeria’s growing snippet culture and how we’ve gotten to where we are today.
Music snippets are bits of a full length song extracted from an original unreleased record as means of teasing the song, getting feedback on new sounds, and promoting an upcoming release. When artists employ snippets as part of their marketing campaigns, they often extract the parts of a song they feel is the most catchy and can command reasonable amounts of attention leading up to their music releases. Over the years we’ve seen music snippets take a number of forms; some snippets are five seconds long, some are 15 seconds long, and others can be as long as one minute or more.
Before we uncover the side effects of Nigeria’s growing snippet culture, we need to talk about why there’s a snippet culture in the first place. Nigeria’s music industry didn’t always have a snippet culture, although snippets were never foreign to the industry. In all forms of art, there’s a use for snippets, but the way the music industry has adopted the concept is different: snippets are now becoming the driving force determining whether or not a new piece of music is worth releasing and if it will perform well or not.
Talking about Nigeria’s growing music snippet culture without talking about TikTok, Instagram, and the attention economy at large is almost impossible. As music becomes more democratised and streaming takes preeminence, social media platforms have become the go to channels for artists to promote their work. These platforms operate on what is known as the attention economy, making more profit based on how much of a user’s attention they can attract and sustain. Diminishing attention spans, coupled with the ambition of music artists, inevitably gave birth to the snippet culture we’ve begun seeing in Nigeria’s music industry.
Ten years ago, it would be unimaginable for artists to willingly let the public into their creative process, but today it’s becoming a norm. Artists like Asake, Pheelz, Odumodublvck and more create some of their biggest hits thanks to snippet based music rollouts. Music creation and marketing can be a time consuming and expensive process, and artists and labels need to be able to recoup their investments. This is why music roll out processes have become more technical, leaving out as much margin of errors as possible. All these have enabled snippets to find their way into many artist’s marketing arsenals. However, there are still some drawbacks that need to be considered.
One of the most important yet overlooked side effects of Nigeria’s growing snippet culture is the pressure it puts on fellow artists to make music based solely on its potential to go viral on social media. Every artist should want their music to perform well and enjoy positive reception. However, when the virality potential of a record outweighs the authentic creative expression of an artist, it leads to music without substance. A snippet-first approach to music making can severely impact the long term health of the music industry, watering down the quality of music.
We’ve all had that feeling: you’re casually scrolling on Instagram and you see a post from an artist you love announcing a brand new never-before-heard single. In that moment, you feel like nothing else matters and you rush over to Spotify to listen to the song. Well, thanks to snippet culture, we’re slowly losing the novelty that unexpected music releases present. Unexpected music releases take away the tension of waiting for a song you’ve heard months ago to drop, giving you that instant satisfaction of listening to a song in all its glory for the first time. Also, a poorly executed snippet based music release can also lead to the song losing relevance and falling off listeners’ radars.
Another side effect of snippet culture is the dopamine rush an artist gets when they share a snippet of their unreleased tracks with audiences. There’s an initial feeling of satisfaction that comes from sharing something new you’ve been working on with the public, but when sharing parts of a song gives artists the same satisfaction they get from releasing new ones, we start seeing an industry saturated with more snippets than music releases.
I came across the term “Afro snippets” on Twitter and immediately laughed because even though it was meant as a joke, it is suggestive of the direction the Nigerian music industry is heading in: an artist will drop one song for every 10 snippets they share online. While there’s nothing wrong with snippets, artists need to remain aware of side effects of poor execution and the excessive use of the strategy in their campaigns.