THE ARCHETYPES: UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE, PASSION & PERSON OF NIGERIAN ARTISTS
This article explains the idea of artist archetype for Nigerians to understand the personality, passion, and purpose of their favorite musicians.
The average music lover is unconcerned with details beyond the sonority of sounds, the aesthetics of the lyrics, and lifestyle of artists. People who show interest in deeper details such as artist brand and purpose are the elite music lovers, managers, label owners and people whose interest in music is profound – mostly people with professional or business interest in music. But to avoid simplistic beer parlor chats, we must understand some level of details about the art and business of music. This necessitates understanding archetypes as it relates to musicians.
The archetype of an artist informs the personality, the drive, and the nature of the connection between the artist and fans. Essentially, the archetype forms an elemental part of the brand of the artist. The archetype influences the genre, the message, and identity of the artist. The synonymous link between explorer archetype and alternative music represents a perfect case. The link between the two concepts is traceable to the explorers’ inner drive leave the comfort of common place, which in this context means pop music, to feel at home in a niched space.
We all have our respective favorite artist. We all have one or more artists who we give our loyalty to. This connection we feel for our favorite music star can be explained using the concept of archetypes. As music
consumers, we are drawn to music which evokes our motivations and desires. And since the archetype tells on the message and mannerism of the artist, the archetype is essentially a chord of connection between the artist and fans. The sage, for instance, seeks truth, knowledge and wisdom. These motivations reflect in the music of the sage, which appeals to music lovers who appreciate the wisdom and depth of musical themes. Jesters like Blaqbonez exhibit playful and entertaining spirits. And as such, connect with their audience through happiness and laughter.
There are 12 archetypes in total. Some generally resonate better with the Nigerian masses. The jester and ruler are two interesting archetypes which prove to be potent in winning the love of the Nigerian music crowd. Jesters are fun and happy spirits. Easy to love fellows; hard to hate characters. Rulers (such as Wizkid and Davido) on the other hand, get much of their fan love and goodwill from consistently stimulating fun moments and party memories through their music. Essentially, dance, parties, club experiences are strong points for an artist to connect with Nigerians. Due to the nature of Nigerians, explorers do not have the pull of either the ruler or the jester archetypes. This is why explorers (such as Adekunle Gold and Brymo) commonly operate as niche artists.
However, being a ruler or a jester is not an automatic ticket to the upper echelon of the industry. Every archetypal framework needs a proper brand story to strike the right connection with the audience. As with stories generally, the more detail there is in the brand story, the more striking and memorable the artist-fan connection. The brand look, feel, tone, attitude and opinions must align to evoke desires the audience connect to. This means a creator artist might enjoy stronger connection with fans than a
jester, depending on the level of detail and originality in the brand story. A ruler, with all the pop influence, could be less influential than the explorer or a hero. The strength of the artist-fan bond lies in the quality of the brand story.
The Nigerian music mainstream is home to hundreds of artists. Limiting such a large group of artists to 12 archetypes creates a colony of clones. This is why strategic differentiation is key. This differentiation can be achieved using a fine blend of qualities from multiple archetypes. The archetypal mix allows an artist build a brand composed of a core archetype and an influencer archetype. Popular brand expert, Stephen Houraghan propounds a 70-30 rule – 70% core and 30% influencer archetype. With this rule, no two artists are exactly same. We can’t have every artist appearing and singing like Wizkid. We need the lovey-energy of Simi. We need Tems’ mystique. We need the heroics of Erigga in fighting the forces
against music from area, and the novelty Odunsi represents.
As productive as a hybrid archetypal architecture might be, an artist with a faulty archetypal mix might suffer from lack of identity. You ever wonder why some brilliant artists struggle to make the right connection with fans? And why some fail to sustain a positive early impression? The answer is
branding defect. Every now and then, we see artists start to build strong connection with fans, only to lose the connection at a later time. The technique of creating a working archetype is delicate and requires a great deal of deliberateness. With less than 70% core archetype, fans struggle to connect with the artist. Although, it is advisable that artists creatively explore traits of one or a set of secondary archetypes to form a distinct style. Ultimately, owning a recognizable identity is a must-do for any artist who intends to build a community of fans.
Conclusively, the connection we share with our favorite artist is rooted in the archetype and emotions the artist evokes. Fun-seekers love Teni for her happy character. Naira Marley enjoys the rave of being a people’s rebel. Johnny Drille appeals to lovers of ingenious and novel music. Essentially, every artist brand is a product of archetypes and building connections with a target audience. This ring of operations differentiates a successful artist brand from a struggling brand. The engineering of archetypes and connections is the principle upon which hit records are made, fan bases are built, and monetization of music is done.
The Nigerian Artist Archetype Table