Pulse Music scratches the underbelly of Nigeria music industry, digging deep into the first half of the year, and coming out with five key observations from the duration.
We Nigerians are a very amazing stock of Homo sapiens, with each day providing experiences and opportunities of learning. From the creeks of Bayelsa, to the traffic congestion of Lagos States, we have kept at it, growing at every turn, finding reasons to go on, and against all odds, succeeding at things.
Our music industry has taken our image, stumbling along, improvising, and just doing enough to stay relevant, despite the lack of the basics. We still lack cohesive licensing and publishing, giving away music for free, and depending on limited sources of income. That’s why we don’t have true record labels in Nigeria. We are settling for a peculiar version of the music business, and plodding along with whatever comes our way.
This year has been no different, with the conversations on the need to restructure the industry being bellowed from stages and mics at conferences, symposiums, music workshops, seminars and social media. No day goes by on Nigerian Twitter without these topics raised.
On the creative end, we have seen a great number of singles pumped into the mixed zone, and promoted. The turnover on music websites ‘new music’ and ‘new video’ categories are astronomical. There have been new shots, old shots, upshots, and failed shots. Everyone, and anyone, is currently working their way through their next music release. But we have only had 9 mainstream albums.
Pulse Music scratches the underbelly of Nigeria music industry, digging deep into the first half of the year, and coming out with five key observations from the duration. See them below.
No True Nationwide Hit Single
As earlier said (or written), the year has had singles thrown into the country from every corner. From the heavyweights such as D’banj, Don Jazzy and his muses, to the emerging acts of the game such as ES Plus, and Sammy Davids. But there has been no true hit single.
Pulse Music last week released a comprehensive list of the hottest songs of the year so far, and trust me, none of them has achieved nationwide penetration and victory at the charts and playlists. We have had many who picked up steam, but failed to run with the title.
Why? A number of factors are responsible. Promotion has become more expensive just at the dollar has appreciated against the Naira. There is less available funding for projects, with many tight budgets being handed to executors and pluggers to run with the music. The quality of the music is still present, but we just need more exposure given to the work.
African Pop Music is going global
When the first file of Drake adding a bar on Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba’ was released last year, everyone went bonkers. Here is the biggest pop superstar of the world, rocking to an indigenous pop song from Nigeria and hopping on a verse. That move has become the catalyst for something bigger, speeding up the recognition of the abundant genres of music that has become the lifeblood of this continent, and exporting these sounds.
Wizkid will later star with Drake on ‘One Dance’, a song that is currently leading the US and UK Billboard Hot 100 chart. The spillover of these moves has seen Sony Music Entertainment sign Nigeria’s Davido, East African Bongo Flava star, Alikiba, and Ghana’s first Afro-electric dance musician, Okunta Kinte. Ayo Jay has been given a deal by RCA Records, and Tiwa Savage just got an international management deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation.
African music is currently blowing up outside the continent, and Wizkid is leading the charge, as he has recorded with Swizz Beatz and many more.
No New Breakout Star
This year has also lacked a standout emerging star. You can point to the past five years to point out a class of top performers that have made the cross from underground to big stars, with a hit single. But this year which has been near-abysmal for many established artistes, has been worse for the hopefuls. 2015 gave Nigeria Kiss Daniel and YCee. 2016, er, has given us, er, no one. Not one star has been found so far from our teeming population of musicians.
Hip-Hop Keeps Depreciating
Every rapper in the country is country that has tasted mainstream success, and known the highs and trappings of commercialization of art is no longer a rapper. They are all searching for that pop record. Every year, as our music descends further into the black hole of pop music, we have had many acts adapt to theb trend and stay relevant. This has affected the growth of many other genres, who have lost purist acts to the lure and lucre of pop music.
Hip-hop has been the worst hit, with many decamping to the pop style for a hit record. Vector has been trying out a balancing act to little effect. M.I Abaga still lacks a hit song, but Olamide and Phyno are killing it. The duo who are regarded as the best acts in the genre, came together for a collaboration that gave Nigeria ‘Fada Fada’, an urban Highlife single with no sliver of rap attached.
Experts predict that this will only get worse, as subgenre listenership drops and pop music keeps up its expansion with each new release.
The Legal Route Has Become Embraced For Dispute Resolution
When Shizzi took his case against Tunde Ednut to his lawyers, few might have seen it as a lone act of escalation in the music industry. They weren’t wrong to think this way. For too long, disputes in the music industry have been too reliant on social media for a resolution. And although, that has not changed, the legal route has been pursued many times this year. DJ Zeez will have to refund HF Records over N22 million. Skales and his ex-manager Osagie Osarenkhoe had to be held in Police custody by Baseline Music. Runtown had to fight through injunctions in two continents to get to a settlement with his boss at Ericmany Entertainment.