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Now is a good time to invest in the Nigerian music industry

Blurb: Over the last couple of years, the Nigerian sound, Afrobeats, has slowly picked up in foreign markets.

Lagos – It is no secret that Nigerians are setting the pace in the music industry. Today, the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Tekno, Olamide, and Lil Kesh are taking over TV screens and radio airwaves, while the likes of Jidenna are also flying the flag high in the diaspora.

Although, before the likes of Wizkid giving out bangers like “come closer” and Davido with super smash hits “IF” and “Fall,” it’s important to acknowledge those who have paved the way and inspired this new generation of Nigerian artists.

First of all, going as far back as the 70s when the Afrobeats genre was introduced to the Nigerian music scene; this genre is a blend of high-life, American funk, and Jazz music. Not to mention, the sound was popular both within and outside of Nigeria.

Fela Anikoulapo Kuti, often regarded as the father of Afrobeats, pioneered this new sound of music with classic songs like ‘Water No Get Enemy’, ‘Zombie’, ‘Shakara’, and many more. Ultimately, Fela’s renowned influence rubbed off on another generation of Nigerian musicians that saw the likes of Lagbagja take center stage as he ventured into the music industry in 1993. With his inspiration from Fela, his style of music is an array of traditional Yoruba music and Jazz with the use of African drums and rhythms.

Lagbagja achieved major successes with his timeless songs like ‘Nothing for you’ and ‘Konko below’. Today in the music industry, younger acts have stuck to the roots of Afrobeats by sampling music from the pioneers of Nigerian music industry. This is evident with Davido taking bits of Lagbaja “Gra Gra” and adding it to his monster hit single ‘IF’. It was also a clear case in the fast rising act from Babcock University, Jinmi Abduls; in his recent mixtape ‘Jolag’, his song titled ‘mo wa dupe’, is a refreshing remake of the original 2002 song by Nigerian singer, Paul Play Dairo.

Although sampling has helped preserve the memory of prominent figures in our industry, it does not explain how Nigeria suddenly rose over the past few years in the music industry. But then, an explanation for this new found interest in Afrobeats seems to come through the diaspora community as Nigerians in the U.S and the U.K have lately shown appreciation for the music coming out of Nigeria. Events like the One Africa Music Concerts in London and New York are just some events that have given Nigerian artists a platform overseas.

In fact, some promising acts like Wizkid and Davido have been signed to Sony Music Entertainment, a label that has seen innovation, prospect and talent in the Nigerian music industry. Not to mention, this sudden advancement has also brought several collaborations with Nigerian artists in the diaspora and international artists. Artists like Tiwa Savage have also acquired management teams from Roc-nation, a company owned by Jay-Z.

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) the multinational professional services network in a 2016 report estimated that the Nigerian music industry was worth $40 million in 2011 and $47 million in 2015; however by 2020, this number is expected to nearly double to $86 million.

This growth may be accredited to the interests of foreign labels like Sony Music Africa and Universal Music Group as well as great revenues from mobile music, which depends on ringtones and ring back tones. By 2020, PWC estimates that digital platforms will make up 90% of Nigeria’s recorded music sales.

As the Afrobeats renaissance continues to advance with increased appetite and influence of international and diaspora community fanned by the ever increasing penetration of mobile technology, it is clear that the opportunities for music industry investment in this proud West African country are endless.


Paul Olele Jnr

Writes in from George Washington University


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