Every year since 1987, thousands of music industry members from all over the world gather in the U.S, state of Texas for the South by Southwest Music Conference, this year even president barrack Obama made an appearance. Here, new artistes get exposure, the latest technology is displayed and insiders discuss issues affecting the music industry.
For the first time South by Southwest included a panel dedicated to Nigeria’s music industry, It’s a sign of the times for a country with an entertainment and media market it predicted to surpass eight billion dollars by twenty nineteen, that’s according to press Price Waterhouse Cooper.
Among the panelists is the general manager of Sony’s recently formed music division in west Africa. It’s the first major recording label to operate in Nigeria.
It’s a big deal for Sony, it’s a big deal because it’s saying we’re taking this market seriously. Not just by talk not just by rhetorically not just by setting up a brief case, lets get functional physical offices with a physical manager running a business. _ Michael Ugwu
Michael Ukwu has already signed several artistes including one of my Nigeria’s most popular, Davido.
Davido sells out stadiums, sixty-seventy thousand people. You know as big as you get in Africa it’s time to now cross territories. That’s where we come in, where we are actually gonna help and scale up his impact on the music business. And actually create more impacts globally. _ Michael Ugwu
Notjustok.com is one of my Nigeria’s most popular music sites. The owners who actually run the site from the United States says artiste like Davido sets Nigeria apart from the rest of the continent.
If you go to any of those countries, a lot of the music they played are Nigerian songs, so it’s quite evident that our market, the Nigerian market is the biggest in Africa, our A-list artists are the Michael Jacksons of other countries in Africa. _ Ovie Ofugara
Those artists includes Wizkid, D’banj and P-square, they all have gained success and riches by delivering the Afrobeat sound Nigeria is known for, that is not the story for many artists in the country.
As an artiste it is very challenging, you know?, Nigeria does not have been infrastructure to pay out, to give artistes their royalties to give artistes the right publishing arrangements, so artistes having to depend on things like endorsements, and you know? Just shows to really try to keep the creative going. _ Dj Cuppy
DJ Cuppy travels around the world and mixes Afrobeat with other international sounds. She senses reform coming to Nigeria’s music industry.
With the growing digital environment, artistes are not becoming more informed in what they do they’re learning that actually, I should be getting royalties, I should have a publishing deal, actually if i’m performing, I should be paid for my performance, so people are also noticing that their skills and talent is worth something. _ Dj Cuppy
Mobile phone companies create a huge revenue system for artists, Africa’s largest telecommunications company also claims to be the largest distributor of digital music, mainly because of caller ringback tunes which is very popular in countries like Nigeria. The revenues for Nigerian artists from mobile music sales are reportedly about one hundred fifty million dollars annually, that’s according to Bloomberg. Michael Ugwu says it will take more than money from telecoms industry to continue growing.
A lot of artists tend to write their own music, we haven’t built up the ecosystem of songwriters, so you know now it’s about how to actually make this thing work, as for me, you need songwriters in the ecosystem, as big as Beyoncé, she needs songwriters. _ Michael Ugwu
The Sony executive also has this prediction,
I think five years from now people are going to be paid a lot more in this industry, hundred percent, and that’s the trend, people are going to consume music and they are going to pay to consume that music because it’s going to be convenient to consume, world class, top quality, local and internationally._ Michael Ugwu