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Absence of proper collecting system stalling growth of Nigerian music sector – Sam Onyemelukwe

Over the years, the Nigerian music industry has become one of the country’s biggest exports aside from petroleum, especially in Europe and the United States of America.

Nigerian music stars like Davido, Wizkid and Burna Boy have gained international recognition, sold-out concerts and made headlines on global music platforms.

Last week, Burna Boy raked in over N3 billion from his sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA.

Also, Ckay’s “Love Nwantiti” leads the inaugural list of Billboard’s U.S Afrobeats Song Charts dated April 2, 2022. According to Luminate, MRC Data, the track received 4.7 million official U.S. streams.

Also, the top 5 Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs are by Nigerian musicians.

Despite these astonishing records, a foremost African and Global media, entertainment and digital industry expert, Samuel Onyemelukwe, says the industry still has more to explore.

Untapped goldmine

Mr Onyemelukwe, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES Newspaper at an entertainment conference held recently in Lagos, said there was more about the music industry, which many people are ignorant of.

Mr Onyemelukwe, a shareholder and senior manager of Trace TV West Africa, an international entertainment platform, said: “The interesting thing about the Nigerian music industry is that many people think that the music industry is only about making music, but there’s a whole lot behind it.”

“First, there is the legal implication behind the whole songs you listen to, there are multiple rights, and there are multiple ways to exercise four sets of rights in a song owned by two different sets of people, but unfortunately, people don’t think about it, people don’t know it,” he said.

According to him, only a few are aware of the dividends in the music industry.

He said the American music industry generates more income than the Nigerian music industry because the royalties for each song are collected at ‘‘every step along the way’’.

Further explaining, the music executive said: “For instance, if you play my song in your shop and bring in a customer, shouldn’t I collect money for it? And that’s how it is done globally, and we are far behind in that respect in Nigeria’’.

Government participation

Mr Onyemelukwe called on the government and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the Nigerian music industry grows beyond its present stage.

Speaking on the government’s participation in the industry’s growth, he said: “Government regulations are in place, but not enforced. IP protections: protections for intellectual properties, statutory organisation for copyright, all these policies enforcement agencies should not just sit down and allow all these musicians to be fighting here and there. Let’s have a proper collecting society, so we can recognise the value behind the music and shake the body.”

Afrobeats and the Nigerian music

According to Mr Onyewulukwe, many people have misrepresented the genre of Nigerian indigenous music in a bid to identify themselves as Afrobeats.

He also called on Nigerian artists to explore other genres of music that are peculiar to the Nigerian music heritage.

“Many people are not talking about fuji, highlife, and the rest. The issue is that we are in a period of excitement about Afrobeats and the resurgence of our music industry. In the 60s and 70s, our music industry was very vibrant, and all the major labels were in Nigeria; they pulled out in the early 90s. So we are in a period of excitement. Let us recognise and talk about and promote the fact that there are a lot of other genres of music in Nigeria.”

Mr Onyewulukwe is renowned for transforming Trace into a market leader in the region. He is currently the Managing Director of Trace Anglophone West Africa.


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