What The Nigerian Music Industry Needs To Actually ‘Blow’

We live in interesting times, where artistes can leverage technological advancements to connect with a diverse audience and also share their content at the same time. Advancement in technology means that the present-day musician has an advantage that musicians in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s did not have – access to millions in the snap of a finger (if done right).

In an increasingly saturated digital space, however, what differentiates an artiste that is consistently growing their revenue and the one that is struggling to generate income, is simply how they were both able to critically analyse the data available to them and use such data to their advantage.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that the Nigerian entertainment and music industry is set to reach a staggering revenue of $10.8 billion by 2023. The global attention that the Nigerian music scene has received in the past three years has been accelerating –  there is no better time for Nigerian artistes to use data and insights to reach billions with their musical content.

Nigerian artistes are yet to fully take advantage of the enormous data and insights available to them across different platforms. Now, more than ever there is a rush for digital platforms especially as a result of the pandemic and social distancing procedures.

Oye Akideinde, CEO MusicTime and Simfy Africa

Oye Akideinde, CEO MusicTime and Simfy Africa, gave a background to this during MTN’s Business of the Art Series: “There is more pressure on digital platforms for artistes at the moment because most income streams have temporarily dried up. Digital has always had the DSPS [Digital Service Providers] – MusicTime, Apple Music, and the rest. Artistes usually put their music up through aggregators or licensing labels and that has always been the process. Now, for most artistes/content owners, we advise that you look at your aggregator contracts properly. Various aggregators offer different options. Some offer DIY services – they dump the music on the platform and you have to decide how you want to market it, put into playlists and pitch your body of work. While some offer boutique services where they don’t only help submit the songs but they also do a bit of marketing, they get it playlisted and get you inner notifications and other access. All those services attract different costs. So, it’s up to the artiste  or company to do the research and select the best fit.”

And he should know. Akideinde has been co-founder and editor at 360 Nobs, Head of Business Development at Spinlet, and recently, West African Regional Director at Boomplay Africa.

He continues: “It is also very important right now for artistes to look at their numbers and logs. Even if you are not currently earning revenue, you can track the numbers that matter from the backend. There are many artistes that presume their biggest market is Lagos while it’s actually Togo! So, by analytics, they are able to seek the areas that they need to focus their digital marketing on. So, your logs tell you what your streaming numbers are, what cities they are coming from and what they want to listen to.”


Temi Adeniji, Vice President, International Strategy & Operations, Warner Music Group

According to Temi Adeniji, Vice President, International Strategy & Operations, Warner Music Group, The promise of what could be achieved by Nigeria’s booming music industry in the next decade is awe-inspiring, especially if the industry gets it right and focuses on the critical issues of adequate compensation and piracy. “Piracy is a big problem. For the industry, there are regulations but they are not enforced. And one of the biggest challenges is that artistes have a hard time just being artistes and relying on the Nigerian ecosystem, they are always looking globally. Markets like India have global aspirations but it is not because they can’t make a living in their country. It’s actually to the contrary; Indian artistes are making really good money and are able to monetize because they have started to put in place a structure that allows them to thrive within the country. And that should be the goal in Nigeria…”

There is a critical need to create a culture that not only appreciates music as an integral part of the culture but also equates value with the medium. Adeniji advised the need for value: “We have to put value in music as much as they enjoy it. Yes, music is a very core part of our culture, from birth to death but there is the thought that music should be free. And that requires the people who create this do so for free – that doesn’t make any sense. Part of it is also training the consumer to appreciate the fact that free consumption means people have no incentive to create.”

And as Adeniji pointed out, there is also a moral imperative to support our artistes. “It’s an essential part of the cornerstone of any successful civilization, that the history be captured through the arts – visual, audio. It is history and we need our history to be told and captured appropriately, and we need to encourage them to do so.”

As the industry moves along with the furious rate of digitization in the world, the same problems that have caused millions of talented artistes to devolve into a life of penury over decades must be dealt with. Otherwise, all the data and income generation will be redundant if there are no structures in place to support and compensate the Nigerian musician.

The Business of the Art Series afforded a platform for intelligent discussions on what the industry needs to achieve the future it deserves. Interestingly, the initiative was birthed from the need to educate young students of the MTN-MUSON scholarship programme on the intricacies of the music industry and what is needed to thrive. After three editions, this was the first virtual edition that enabled the young aspiring artistes to join in on the conversation and make informed decisions. What will be the structures that these young ones will build their careers on? Or will their children also have similar pain points in another twenty years?

The webinar was attended by some of the most experienced professionals in the music business in Nigeria such as ViacomCBS Network Africa Country Manager, Bada Akintunde-Johnson; CEO and Founder, Now Muzik, Efe Omorogbe; Founder and CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle as well as Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Irancell, Larry Annetts. The sessions were moderated by Oyinkansola Fawehinmi, President, Digital Music Commerce and Exchange Limited.

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