By AYO ONIKOYI
A veteran entrepreneur in the entertainment and music industry in Nigeria. Chidi Okeke who’s the founder of Mcomm Solutions and Services, a technology driven company offering a wide range of content, mobile technology and music-based solutions and services across the African has raised alarmed that the Nigerian music industry may be in danger if strategic steps are not taken to entrench structures that will stand the test of time and explore technology-driven means to drive our local music content beyond the shores of the country to the desired audience in the Sub-Saharan Africa and the world at large.
Chidi made this dire observation at a media parley in Lekki, Lagos while reviewing the lots of the music industry in the last 5-10 years. He asserted that outsiders in the business of music may still be seeing boom in the industry and maintained that Nigeria remains on the top of the log in Africa but warned that the rest of Africa is fast catching up at a pace that is both scary and worrisome.
“ Nobody knew what really happened in 2018, there was a huge drop in revenue across board in the music industry. Toward the end of 2017 and the entire 2018 revenues from Caller Ring Back Tune (CRBT) streaming and concerts dropped significantly because of the fall of naira to the dollar. This brought an interesting twist that saw artistes taking their performances abroad where it became more profitable to generate revenue. What more, countries like South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and others are catching up fast using technology to deploy their content to the world. The biggest challenge in Nigeria is the lack of defined structure. Here, you see the artiste being in charge of his business when he should be more concerned with the creative aspect and allow professionals to take care of business for him. In developed countries it is the corporates that set up structures not the artistes. It is not an artiste that set up Sony Music, Spotify or Apple Music, it is the corporates that understand the business of music and set up structures to make money for the artistes. All they do is set up platforms and allow the artistes to create content through their talents. In Nigeria the reverse is the case. The artiste appoints managers and dictates the business tone. Artistes like D’banj and P-Square made a truckload of money back then because they had a semblance of a good structure behind them,” he said.
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Speaking further, he harped on the importance of structures that would benefit the stakeholders and the artistes and the industry at large.
“Through the various stages of music development in Nigeria in contemporary times a major challenge is lack of structure. The structural gap is in the business side of the industry, ranging from artiste’s management to record labels, legal issues, skill sets, production quality, human capacity, talent management, lack of corporate bodies and government support and a lot more. The absence of these make the industry concentrate on pushing contents that are perceived acceptable to the people to determine the popularity of the artistes. This is also making the industry operate below its actual potential and if the right structures are in place, there will be growth. A country like the US started just at the level Nigeria is now. Overtime, they built structures that helped them overcome their challenges. They invested in infrastructure – studio, equipment and training of their people from the business managers to the artiste management and talent hunt business development. We have the numbers, which is good for the industry. We have the can-do spirit that drives every artiste through entrepreneurial mind set. However, this will not be sustainable without the right structure in place. Other countries in Africa are fast rising in the music stage by leveraging on technology, they have the skill set through training and they have a bit of structure to support them,” he added.
With his vast experience spanning over 17 years in the entertainment and communications industry, Chidi, who was part of the team that packaged D’banj during the glorious years of Mo’Hits laid out his plans for the rejuvenation of the industry to fight off the bludgeoning charge from other countries in Africa.
“ Technology and training are the solution,” he said.
“We need a structure that separates the artistes from the business side of the process. Our artistes need to have open minds for thorough training; vocal, performance rehearsals, use of advance equipment in production, adaption and understanding of use of software for production. It will help artistes concentrate and focus on the creative side ; creating content, but leave the production, marketing and distribution to the business managers to run as a business. Our artistes and music producers need to attend courses for 2 – 3 months at intervals to understand new trends in the industry both in technology for production and musical training to enhance creativity and quality of lyrics and content produced. This will attract the corporate bodies to assist in setting up structures to support the industry if they see it a good business to invest in where the entire ecosystem will benefit. We need to start having these conversations in the media space, government circles, corporate bodies and international investors. This investment must be medium and long term. We should be deliberate to avoid short term expectation of returns if we must grow the music industry as a sustainable sector,” he added.
Chidi is an entrepreneur with significant experience across multiple regions; this enables him to give insights into the challenges in the industry. One of which, is poor access to talent development opportunities in the industry. He’s presently set to launch a music streaming platform named ‘UduX’, that has clear monetisation allocation to all stakeholders who put their music on the platform. According to him, It is a solution to the challenges of piracy, revenue sharing formula for artistes, owners of the platforms, investors and listeners.