Plugging is still a vibrant niche for entrepreneurs, relatively unscathed by the upheaval that has affected the rest of the music industry. This pivotal role in popular music goes back to the early days of radio in the 1990s, when CD were feted acts.
Downloading became the norm with the coming of the digital age. This was followed soon after by streaming, which has since become the chief way to consume music. Since then, the CD has consistently been in decline.
Today it is a key strand in the promotional tactics used by record labels to drive a hit song. Digital teams target social media and street teams pound the pavements. Online and print press offices deal with websites and publications. All plug acts in the wider sense. But in the music industry the term refers to those who lobby for radio and television airtime.
“At the start of an artist’s career it can just be ‘spot plays’, which are like one-off plays on specialist DJ shows Sheriff Olaitan Salaudeen explains. “But as you build an artiste’s career it becomes more strategic. You’re building towards playlist support and playlist rotation increase, trying to get from a C-list song to an A-list.”
Sheriff Salaudeen (Music Plugger) of MuchMusic LessTalk Promotion
Plugged In, which set up in 2010, focuses on Nigeria national radio & Television. Clients range from Olamide, Fireboy DML, Portable, Reminisce. Among its current campaigns is up-and-coming singer Asake, who is trying to crack the Nigeria market with his singles “Omo Ope” and Sungba. Today, Sheriff Salaudeen (Music Plugger) has ensured he has been playlisted by Radio and Television stations, which almost automatically guarantees a chart placing on all DSP.
He came to the industry through work experience at Continental Broadcasting Service, the owner of TVC and Radio Continental than while studying Mass Communication in Lagos State Polytechnic.
Throughout this time, the human element, music creators, producers, publishers, and consumers also underwent much change. In the middle of it all, the role of song plugging ebbed and flowed with the changing dynamics.