Album releases the New Tradition Helping Market Music

The increased prevalence of single music tracks has diminished the prevalence of full music albums. However, those Ethiopian artists dedicating themselves to release the longer works are making significant impact. One tradition that seems to be on the rise along with the release of these music albums are the events that accompany them. It has now become common for artists to announce the release of their albums at lavish events. The latest addition to musicians employing expensive release events is Rophan—the young artist that has rocked the nation with his latest album called SIDIST. In this article, EBR’s Trualem Asmare tells the story of these album release events and their implication.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1990, Rophnan Nuri Muzeyin, known as Rophnan in the music world, is considered one of the most influential artists in today’s Ethiopia. He entered mainstream recognition around the time of his ground-breaking debut album ‘Reflection,’ which introduced a completely new style of Ethiopian music and is credited with the mainstreaming of Ethio electronic music. This debut album, released in May 2018, This was the first electronic music album to ever be released in Ethiopia.

The artist, now a household name, released a 16-minute long three-song compilation called ‘SOST’ in May 2021, gaining massive success in Ethiopia by garnering 2 million views within just a week on YouTube. After further releasing a single titled ‘Tesfa’ in December 2021 and the revelation that he had signed a record deal with Universal Records in June 2022, Rophnan released ‘SIDIST’ in July.

Rophan’s latest album release event was conducted at the Hyatt Regency and brought together big names from all walks of life. As the new tradition dictates, the audience listened to the tracks of the new album and discussions were held on the inspiration and workings behind each track. Of course, a party ensued with the audience enjoying themselves by songs by himself and co-artists.

The album release party was preceded by an album teaser—also becoming an upcoming feature of album releases in Ethiopia. The teaser was a chance for his fans and media to get a glimpse into what his album would have to offer and was released on his official YouTube page. This and the album release party put fans on the verge of explosion before eventually getting their hands on the most anticipated album of the year.

These new strategies in the marketing of an album have opened up opportunities on various platforms. It was just inevitable that almost all major media channels were playing tracks from his new album upon release while major local media personalities, from EBS television to Meaza Birru of Sheger radio station, lined up for interviews.

Rophnan is not the first to use such strategies to augment the visibility of new artistic work. Rather, it has growingly become a tradition for most artists. Dawit Tsige, Hewan Gebrewold, and Halima Abdurahman have all taken advantage of such moves. Indeed, they all have done quite well with their newly released works.

Ermias Baharu, 27 years old, was one of those who attended Rophnan’s album release party. As someone who claims to be the biggest fan of the artist, it was unthinkable not to attend the event that he was anticipating for so long.

“More than 100 people attended the event which was being led by another famous artist, Girum Zenebe,” Ermias shares what he saw at the event. “The event was so glamorous!”

According to Ermias, almost all media personalities, artists, and famous businesspeople attended the event and it was inevitable that the album would be the talk of the town in the following weeks and months.

“Usually, the artists themselves are the ones who organize such events,” says Henock Yirga, Manager at Shalem Media Communication.

Shalem organized an album release party at Eliana Hotel in 2019 for Halima’s album entitled ‘Semay’. Henock recalls about 150 people attended that event.

“The album release party was a great opportunity in that it brought the attention of many media outlets,” Henock told EBR. “Halima gave a press conference and was interviewed by many media people giving us the type of platform we had expected from the event.”

Sileshi Demissie, a.k.a., Gash Abera Molla, a famous Musician and Songwriter, agrees on the impact of events on promoting the works of artists. ‘’The popularity and visibility one gets from these events also brings the opportunity to be nominated at renowned contests and awards, which in turn brings more popularity,” he adds.

Even though these events are still relatively new in Ethiopia, they are a significant and expensive aspect of album recording in nations like the US. These parties are genuinely extravagant, with A-list stars, private jets, and five-star hotels featuring. And while some may argue that this level of extravagance is unnecessary, there’s no denying that these parties are a huge part of the music business.

What accounts for the high cost of an album release party? To begin with, they frequently occur in big cities like New York or Los Angeles. This implies that the price of venues and catering is likely exorbitant. In addition, many performers fly in their closest friends and relatives for the occasion, which can rapidly add up if one has a huge guest list. And of course, one shall not forget about security costs when the host has such high-profile guests attending the party.

The event organized by Rophnan is fitting of the first Ethiopia-based artist to be signed by a major global recording company—Universal Records. As he is credited with the creation of new style of genre in Ethiopian music, he could also spark a trend regarding album release parties to a higher degree to what has been accustomed in Ethiopia. EBR

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