Love him. Hate him. Bury his name down the dungeons of your memory but there’s one thing you can’t take away from Shatta Wale; He’s always where you will find him. It’s very difficult to forget about him. You might not like his music, but when you tune into your favorite radio station, your favorite radio DJ will be playing Shatta Wale song. He’s your favorite DJ’s favorite artist.
As if I’m a magician. The radio in the corner of our office is playing one of his hit songs right now. My colleague walked to me and asked, “What’s that guy saying in the song.” I don’t know what he’s saying either.
Then she said, “I don’t get a word of it but I like the song.” A beautiful song doesn’t lose its beauty even if the lyrics are alien to you.
Consistently for the past 5 years or so, Shatta has been in the limelight for so many reasons. It’s as though he has nothing to do apart from music. He’s a family man. He has a wife he loves so much. He’s raising a kid and handling other businesses. Businesses that require equally huge attention as he gives to his music.
The question then is, how does he do it?
The answer is simple. And anyone who is able to see through the veil and apply the mindset of Shatta Wale to whatever he does surely will be that successful.
Last year, I was on my way to Winneba for a program. When I got to Kasoa, the traffic there was very thick and was very hard for vehicles to move a meter in five minutes. We were all stuck. Then some moment later, I saw the hawkers on the street rushing to this particular white Range Rover HSE. At some point, I thought they were on their usual business until I heard one person saying “Shatta Wale is having a talk with the traders.”
Shatta Wale having a talk?
He talks to everybody. And his aim during the talk is to offer value in exchange for your attention. Anytime he’s live on Facebook, He’ll like to play you a snippet of what he’s ‘cooking’ in his studio. That’s his way of getting you engaged and listen to whatever he has to say. After he’d finished with whatever he has to say, he’ll play another new song. That is also another way of saying, “thank you for your attention.”
Times are difficult. Everyone is busy. Before I’ll spend my time on you, I should be sure there is something in there for me. Bloggers will love to watch Shatta live on Facebook because he’ll give them something to write about. Fans will like to watch Shatta live because he’ll let them in on the latest bash he’s doing. Haters will also love to watch him live because they are sure he’ll give them something new to hate about him.
Everyone gets to go away with something. That’s what I call ‘Value Marketing.’ Shatta won’t leave you dry. He gives you something for your attention—something of value so you always run to him and listen to what he has to say. He gives you value for your time.
#2. Build a Community
Not just a community. A community of loyal followers. Most celebrities have fans. Shatta doesn’t have fans. Fans aren’t loyal. Shatta has followers. All great leaders the world has ever known had followers. Buddha had his followers. Jesus had followers. Followers are those people who stay with you through thick and thin. Fans love what you do but in the end, they go home.
Followers see you as larger than life. They take whatever you say hook, line, and sinker. In the eyes of your followers, you can’t go wrong.
For a product to do well, it needs loyal followers. Apple has it. No matter how beautiful Samsung phones are, Apple followers always want Apple products. Samsung will do a phone with 4 RAM. Apple phone will have only 1 Ram but Apple followers will always buy the Apple phone. They don’t have eyes for anything but Apple. Shatta has been in the limelight for all these years because he has followers who have eyes for nothing but Shatta. They are the people who spread the gospel of Shatta even when the media decide not to give airtime to Shatta.
#3. Find your source, forget all others.
Shatta knows his source. He knows where he’s welcomed. He’s always welcomed at the source and that is where he always goes. Last time I watched him live on Facebook, I made it a point to count the number of times he used the phrase “my fans.” In close to a fifteen-minute video, he mentioned “my fans” twelve times. That should tell you something.
His fans are the source. And he knows it. He gives everything to his fans and doesn’t care about what others think. That’s how come he can be at loggerheads with mostly everyone in the music industry and still survive in the industry. He’d learn to pay the piper. Now he’s free to call out the songs. Art is not for everybody. Many people may hate the way I write.
That shouldn’t border me. What I have to do is write for the few who love what I do. They are my source. They are the people I should strive to make happy. Those who don’t like the way I write already have what they love. I can’t push mine on them.
Know your source. Feed your source. Love who love you. Those who don’t love you, allow them to wander freely.
#4. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there
I’m yet to see Shatta Wale cowed into silence because of bad publicity. He’s always there. He’s the classical example of the phrase “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Sometimes it’s about something he said that didn’t come out right. Sometimes it’s about what he did. Whatever the reason, he’ll be there in the eye of the storm. But here is the trick, before the flames of the bad publicity dies down, Shatta would have released some tracks. And these tracks usually surf on the waves of such publicity to become hits. He’s made his money, even in bad press situations.
That’s what he means when he says “money is calling in my brain.”
The point is this, publicity is publicity. It gets people talking about you, your product or your services. Whether or not you’ll benefit from it depends on how you handle such publicity.
The worst thing that can happen to any artist is being irrelevant. You can make the best of music or the best of product but money will come only through publicity.
Most careers die due to the lack of publicity and Shatta seems to say, “I don’t care what the media says about me. They only have to get the spelling of my name right.”
The name attached to the publicity gets the benefit. Publicity, either good or bad is like throwing a light on someone in the dark. What the person does with the light depends on only him. He can revel in the beauty of the light or he can find his way home using same light. Shatta finds his way home, with the light of every publicity.
#5. Love What You Do
That’s almost a cliché. Loving what you do come from loving the people you do what you do for. It’s out of love for the patient that makes the nurse stay up all night to ensure the patient gets well in the next morning. Shatta is the nurse. His fans are the patients.
So he stays up all night, mix the beat, sing over it and master it so in the morning his patients will get served. That explains why in a year he’s able to release more than a hundred tracks?
I remember one dawn I had a notification that Shatta was live on Facebook. He had a show in Cape Coast the evening before the dawn. When I saw the notification I knew it would be Shatta performing live in Cape Coast stadium. Nope! That wasn’t it. At that dawn, he’d just returned from Cape Coast and had gone straight to his studio to record a new song and also interact with his fans.
It’s all about what next—what is the next move to take to create something greater than what is already on the market? He’d been on the stage all night. You’ll think he’d earned himself a good night sleep. But no. He can’t wait to do the next great thing. Why can’t he wait for another day to do it?
Love—love for what he does and whom he does it for.
Author: Nesta Jojoe Erskine