It comes after the last six weeks, where Nigerian stars like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade, Rema, Omah Lay, Adekunle Gold and more have either performed a major American/European tour or announced a major American/European tour. The record-setting sales of Wizkid’s Made In Lagos has also been well-documented.
On the one hand, the anticipation around these tour dates, by not just Nigerians or Africans in diaspora, underlines the rise of Afrobeats, through songs that gained attention during the lockdown, Burna Boy’s Grammy win, Made In Lagos and now, the groundbreaking success of ‘Essence.’
At certain tour stops, you can literally see the multiethnicity of members of the audience. Three or four years ago, attendees at shows by the 2010 generation were predominantly black or African. These days, the diversity of the audience is starting to shine through, and it bodes well for the future of Afrobeats.
“At Burna Boy’s recently concluded show, we could literally see the ethnic and even sexual diversity in the audience,” says Yaw, a London-born Doctor of Ghanaian descent. “Five years ago, it was mostly us Africans or black people at our own concerts. Now, the way white people – who represent the largest demography in most European and/or American societies – vibe with our music, it’s obvious that we’re doing something right. I’m so excited, man.”
The post-COVID bubble
In 2020, lockdown in most countries commenced in March. Slowly, Nigerian artists like Davido and Burna Boy who were on tour, as well as acts like Wizkid, Olamide and more, who were set to tour shut down their planned shows.
As reported by several sources, the average African artist generates over 60% of his yearly revenue from live performance, performance rights and brand deals.
With COVID, Effectively, Nigerian artists were starved of their healthiest income stream in a country with low digitalization, slowly rising internet penetration, low purchasing power and poor consumer behaviour.
KPMG reports that, “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasised.
“The music industry is one of the numerous sectors that recorded high financial losses as a result of the pandemic, from the halt in live performances to ticket purchasing audience, there was a significant dip in the financial status of the players in the music industry.”
Make no mistake, the lack of choices increased digitalization, internet penetration and evolved consumer attitude to streaming at a radical rate in 2020. People were stuck at home with nothing to do, so they had no choice but to figure out how to use streaming platforms and short-form video platforms like Triller, TikTok and VSKit.
#ChallengeCulture skyrocketed and so the impact of streaming in Nigeria. While the sought-after premium platforms like Apple Music and Boomplay recorded an increase in their Nigerian subscriber base to reported 150,000 Nigerian subscribers each in 2020, Audiomack hit close to a million users. Yet, the money artists generated was still not up to par.
For context, Burna Boy recorded a reported revenue of $3 million dollars from Apple Music and Spotify streams alone. This amounted for 10% of the Nigerian music industry’s streaming revenue. This is because streaming platforms operate a pro rata model, which ensures that the more popular artists make the most money.
Across board, it was still a great year for music, globally. In 2020, IFPI reported that the global music industry revenue hit $21.6 billion.
In its Global Music Report, IFPI writes that, “Growth was driven by streaming, especially by paid subscription streaming revenues, which increased by 18.5%. There were 443 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2020. Total streaming (including both paid subscription and advertising-supported) grew 19.9% and reached $13.4 billion, or 62.1% of total global recorded music revenues.
“The growth in streaming revenues more than offset the decline in other formats’ revenues, including physical revenues which declined 4.7%; and revenues from performance rights which declined 10.1% – largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The work and investment of record companies has helped lay the foundations for a predominantly digital industry that proved its resilience against the extraordinary circumstances of 2020.”
Thus, the more popular artists, who also released albums in a loaded year made healthy streaming revenue, but – even those major artists and especially – the smaller artists suffered the lack of live performance revenue, as governments embargoed on them. They also couldn’t make club performance revenue, as clubs were locked up.
In essence, the Nigerian entertainment ecosystem suffered. Record labels couldn’t make money, event organizers couldn’t get a detty December, ticketing and secondary ticketing took a hit and so did event merchandising. In an ecosystem where money couldn’t really circulate, careers suffered.
But it opened a unique opportunity for distros and label services companies, who took a step further to ingratiate themselves within Nigerian music, especially amongst younger, talented and more niche or underground artists, by handing out licensing fees. A company like OneRPM and its African leader, Osagie Osarenz can be proud of what it did.
So can companies like Platoon, AFRICORI, Ejoya and more. Livestream also took on a life of its own, with YouTube and UduX capitalizing to entertain and extend brand equity. More importantly, artists also got paid. Audiomack has since done its version with the recent Hometown Heroes concert.
In the same vein, artists got creative by powering platforms like Clout Africa, sequencing their performance and broadcasting to an audience at a later date. However, the swagger, live instrumentation and the raw emotion of live performances cannot be matched. These performances expectedly failed to produce those infectious levels.
More importantly, low internet penetration in Nigeria means the required eyeballs that can convince sponsors to promote ads at e-concerts are simply low at this moment. Thus, revenue from e-concerts are still some way off that of live events. This also means e-concerts are not as profitable for artists or the ecosystem yet.
The return of touring and live performances is perfectly-timed for Nigerian music
From an international touring and international performances perspective, the return of live events is perfectly timed.
In 2020, Nigeria went back to an album market, as acts cemented the place of the EP as the new trusted body of work. Nigerian artists now use albums to promote singles, and in a grand scheme of things, as a veritable revenue generation model.
Everybody who is anybody dropped a body of work last year. With the world being grounded, Nigerian music broke through, as many Nigerian artists became affiliated to major labels, or major distros with influence. In essence, our music got greater placement, great collaborations, a Grammy and now ‘Essence’ as a certified American hit.
African music has never been in more demand. Circuits like Afro Nation, Gidi Fest are also set to return. As Rotimy Rudeboi, a known associate of Wizkid has been tweeting over the past month, Detty December 2021 will be like no other. Competition will make Nigerian superstars ship in several global superstars for their respective Lagos shows.
With the success of ‘Essence,’ we will also see a lot of international artists try to gain mileage in Africa, Justin Bieber has already started, with ‘Essence’ and ‘Peaches (Afrobeats Remix)’ featuring Omah Lay and Alpha P and produced by the veteran, Masterkraft.
However, it’s also time to use this opportunity to build local touring. A company like MLND Blockparty, led by Tobi ‘Alhaji Popping’ Mohammed seems to have it as an end goal. Something like this will oil the industry and capitalism will create imitation, which will benefit our industry.
Even if we will only be in the major Nigerian cities for now, due to bad roads and insecurity.
On a final note, it will take a while before e-concerts breakthrough in Nigeria, due to monetization and brand deals. In the meantime, livestreams will heavily support detty december shows in Lagos this December. That will only take the e-concert message further.