African mu­si­cians tune into con­ti­nent’s mar­ket

Lesotho Times - - Lifestyle -

NE NEW YORK — The man­sion, the pool, the Be Bent­ley, the life-size por­trait and the gold me medal­lions are the spoils of a rev­o­lu­tion in Ni Nige­ria and mu­sic su­per­star D’banj is en­joy­ing them.

The 35-year-old used to have to bar­gain withwi street-mar­ket traders to sell his CDS be­causebe there were no for­mal dis­tri­bu­tion out­lets.ou

To­day, MTN Group, Africa’s big­gest cell­phoneph op­er­a­tor, and Emi­rates Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion­snic Cor­po­ra­tion sell songs by D’banj an­dan other stars such as Davido and 2Face as ring­tones­rin and down­loads. And now the Ti­dal mu­sicmu stream­ing ser­vice owned by US rap­per Jay-zJa is in­ter­ested in the Nige­rian mar­ket. “Our con­sumers can’t get enough of it; you only need to give them a way to get the mu­sic,” D’banj, whose real name is Oladapo Daniel Oye­banjo, said at his home in an up-mar­ket neigh­bour­hood of Lagos.

“The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies are bridg­ing the gap and they’re rak­ing in bil­lions and bil­lions of naira ev­ery year, just from con­tent.”

Thanks to Nige­ria’s an­swer to Spo­tify and Ap­ple Mu­sic, the mu­sic industry has seen sales triple in the past five years as cell­phone down­loads surged, de­spite ram­pant piracy.

With at least 550 al­bums each year, rev­enue to artists from sales is now worth more than $150 mil­lion (over M2 bil­lion) an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to Sam Onyemelukwe, CEO of Lagos-based En­ter­tain­ment Man­age­ment Com­pany, part­ner of Paris- based Trace TV.

Out­side of his rev­enue from Ap­ple’s itunes, D’banj said in the past 18 months he’d earned more than $200 000 from sales in Nige­ria. “It’s close to buy­ing me a Fer­rari,” he said.

More than two-thirds of MTN’S 63-mil­lion sub­scribers in Nige­ria were us­ing its ring­tones ser­vice, for as lit­tle as 50 naira ($0.25) a song, with down­loads on its Mu­sic Plus plat­form grow­ing by 25 per­cent a year, said Richard Iweanoge, MTN Nige­ria’s gen­eral man­ager for con­sumer mar­ket­ing.

“We have be­come the largest dis­trib­u­tor of mu­sic in Nige­ria,” Mr Iweanoge said. “It turned out that Nige­ri­ans ac­tu­ally wanted to buy mu­sic, they just didn’t have a le­gal way to ac­quire it.”

The boom has drawn the at­ten­tion of Jay-z, the rap­per whose real name is Shawn Carter. “My cousin just moved to Nige­ria to dis­cover new tal­ent,”he said on April 26 on his Twit­ter ac­count. It was part of his move to make his Ti­dal mu­sic-stream­ing busi­ness “a global com­pany”, Mr Iweanoge said.

Boosted by satel­lite tele­vi­sion out­lets such as Trace TV and MTV Base Africa, many Nige­rian mu­si­cians have won in­ter­na­tional ac­claim.

“Trace and MTV Base have played a very good part in bring­ing the artists to the rest of the world,” Mr Onyemelukwe said. “We pay roy­al­ties and it brings the view­ers to whom we can ad­ver­tise to gain rev­enue.”

At the 2015 MTV Base Africa Awards held in SA in July, Nige­rian mu­si­cians swept the most pres­ti­gious awards, with Davido win- ning best male artist and Yemi Alade best fe­male artist.

D’banj, am­bas­sador for brands from Ap­ple’s Beats Mu­sic to Di­a­geo’s Ciroc Vodka, clinched an award for pop­u­lar­is­ing African mu­sic.

“We’re op­er­at­ing in a mu­sic industry that doesn’t have clearcut struc­ture,” D’banj said. “It’s a global thing. Ev­ery­one is try­ing to come up with new for­mu­las.”

In the 1960s and ‘70snige­ria had a ro­bust mu­sic industry, with EMI Group, Philips Records and Poly­dor pub­lish­ing the works of mu­si­cians in­clud­ing the late Fela Aniku­lapo-kuti, King Sunny Ade and Osita Osadebe who went on to achieve global ap­peal.

Most of the com­pa­nies pulled out in the 1980s as an eco­nomic cri­sis led to cur­rency de­val­u­a­tions and lower dis­pos­able in­come. “When the big record­ing com­pa­nies left Nige­ria and the lo­cal ones took over, things went south,” said Tola Ogun­sola, co-founder of Nige­rian mu­sic-down­load web­site My­mu­sic.

“There was no for­mal dis­tri­bu­tion any­more.”

That left mu­si­cians re­sort­ing toselling their rights to dis­trib­u­tors for a one-time fee, or head­ing over to the open-air Alaba mar­ket in Lagos to get traders to dis­trib­ute their record­ings.

Then, in 2001, MTN led the in­tro­duc­tion of cell­phones in Nige­ria, and to­day there are al­most 149-mil­lion lines. That has given lo­cal artists an un­par­al­leled av­enue to dis­trib­ute their songs. — Bloomberg

Mu­si­cian D’banj says african mu­sic is gain­ing legs in the mar­ket.

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