Lady Donli. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Struggle Of Making It In Nigerian Music As A New Artist

Because music in Nigeria is beyond talent, there's a formula for success.

In a dimly lit room in her home, Zainab aka Lady Donli, records music. The little room has a setup consisting of her laptop, microphone, monitors and headphones. A magazine serves as a table mat for another table beside her setup. On this table, there's a bottle of cologne, cough medicine and her notepad for lyrics and random scribbles.

Since she started out as a musician in 2013, Lady Donli has almost always recorded music in her room, carrying her equipment—a laptop, microphones and a little console—around with her. She never pays for studio sessions and only goes to one whenever a producer invites her over to work. In her production process, she only ever pays for mixing and mastering. Her mobile studio costs a little below £1000—money she saved up while in school.

Her hit single with Tomi Thomas, "Ice Cream," listed in Complex's Bout to Blow category, was first recorded in a studio and re-recorded in her room when she was a student in London. "From the beginning, I've never had to pay for making my music or promotion. I had a good network of friends that were really supportive, so I sent out emails and put my music out on social media and it just went from there."

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