As Afrobeats and African music at large are starting to conquer global airspace and charts, Josplay Inc, an African music intelligence company, is set to launch a first-of-its-kind music database for African Music.
African Music Library (AML), a social project of Josplay Inc, is a digital knowledge and database built to provide the global music industry with the most accurate and comprehensive understanding of African music.
The library will be launched on 1st September 2022, with data on over 3000+ artists across Africa, and over 10 million data points on recorded musical works. It also tracks over 100 genres – ranging from oldies like Adaha to the new raves like Afrobeats and Amapiano.
Jideofor Okoro, Co-founder, and COO of Josplay said in an interview, “we cannot continuously rely on the fragments of information littered here and there on the web so we decided that it’s time, you know to develop a more unified knowledge and database, you know, that will better educate our local communities on the global communities about our music and also follow the progress,”
According to the press release, the ultimate goal of the library is to match the global acceptance of African music with adequate data by properly documenting the empirical and historical data about music made in Africa or by Africans in the diaspora. The library catalogs information about artists, bands, record labels, their works, and how they are made – including instruments and genres.
“If you look at it, the music has traveled too far and has traveled way beyond the information and the data. So imagine that we had this project deployed years back, or maybe 20 decades back, the new generation won’t be asking who Baba Fryo is for instance. They won’t be asking who Osadebe is, so there will be a more central source of those kinds of information,” Okoro stated
He also stated in the interview that Nigeria and Africa at large had missed out on the opportunities of web 1 and with the emergence of web 3, African music should have enough data to carry into web 3.
“Music will not succeed without music metadata. Metadata is the lifeline of digital music so if you look at it, Most of the works that have been released in the past 10 years are currently doing the best they can but, if you look at the data and compare it with what other music from all the world are performing you see that there is a huge, you know, revenue gap and this revenue gap comes from lack of metadata, the problem is without method data, their discoverability is very minimal their utilization is very minimal, especially on digital service platforms,” Okoro said.
The library’s information repository ranges from music credits that document who did what on any piece of recorded music to the detailed audio analysis of these works.
“The way we’ve structured it there is deep research that yields the knowledge that is displayed in the African Music library, so you can read and get as much money as you want. So for people like you who just want the fragment of data just to make very instant references, we are also continuously Innovating towards expanding our data sets,” Okoro stated.
Being a product of three years of work involving Artificial Intelligence and a team of researchers and editors across the continent, the platform collects, studies, documents, and continuously verifies information on the creators and participants (record labels, publishers, writers, producers, etc.) of all recorded music in Africa or by Africans.
“We have, in the platform, basic information, that was done by different artists and record labels and the rest. So as we proceed, the kind of information that people who seek only data are requesting will be structured in a way that it’s palatable, and easily consumed by the public,”
He also mentions that there is a need for more collaborations from players in the industry to get more insight into data and related works as it’s not just the duty of the African music library team.
“The Partnerships that are very key to us right now are participation from record labels and the creative industry. So we expect to help verify their information cross-reference to make sure that you know their data and their profile is correct. we also are going to be opening up to the Academia Community where we expect contributions from music experts, researchers, and the rest of them,” Okoro added.
Okoro added that a very effective collaborative framework with Collective management organizations, like the likes of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria MCSN in Nigeria and Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO)in South Africa to help with effective data exchange as they also look for this information to help manage rights of artists.
The failure of current methods to adequately define and identify African music served as the inspiration for establishing the library and opening the knowledge base to the public.
Speaking of avoiding copyright infringement, Okoro said that bits of creative works would be used in a way that didn’t go beyond the permitted usage zones and the rights management regulations.
After the project’s first phase is released in September, later releases will contain a more thorough category for creators that will include music writers, composers, sound engineers, etc. This aims to distribute royalties and assign music credits correctly. Deeper analyses and insights into the musical components of many traditional African genres will be among the additional features.
We are convinced that African music is too rich to be side-stepped as world music. We have over 200 genres of African music with various abilities to evoke a broad range of emotions for different groups of listeners. These genres deserve to be studied, preserved and codified for maximum participation in the digital economy.
According to Emmanuel Ogala, Co-founder and CEO of Josplay “we foresee a future where Africans will be considered priority consumers of music, media, and information in their local contexts. Josplay is, therefore, building the data foundation for the music engineers, researchers, and musicologists that will participate in this future.”
“We want innovators in the African music space to have the data needed to build applications that can satisfy every African with their natural taste in music,” Emmanuel says.
The library will be open to the public and welcomes everyone in the African music space – software engineers, creators, researchers, record labels, media platforms, and Performance Rights Organizations – to explore, contribute, and share accurate data on music from the continent and in the diaspora