• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Music execs debate role of streaming, tech disruptions on sector’s future

Music execs debate role of streaming, tech disruptions on sector’s future

The Nigerian music industry buzzed with activity on Thursday, May 30th, 2024, as the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) School of Media and Communication, in partnership with Aristokrat Group, hosted the inaugural Nigerian Media and Music Industry Communication Conference.

Key highlights of the conference included a panel session on ‘Music Executive in Today’s World’ and ‘Building Sustainable Legacies: Strategies for Long-Term Sustainability in Today’s Industry.’

These sessions focused on the significant impact of streaming and digital disruption on the music industry, particularly regarding the changing roles and responsibilities of music executives and A&Rs and strategies that music labels and artists can adopt to ensure long-term success in the ever-evolving music industry.

The first panel featured industry players: Akachi Igbokwe, the A&R at Mavin Records who works closely with Afrobeats stars Rema and Ayra Starr; Lolu Olumideko, the Music Executive at Sony Music West Africa; and Laolu Aranmolate, the chief executive officer of Business Development and Digital Strategy at Nooks Recording.

During the session, Igbokwe explained how digitalisation has revolutionised music creation. “The way music is created today is vastly different from the past. The accessibility of digital tools empowers artists to express themselves and experiment in ways that weren’t possible before.”

Olumideko highlighted how digital music platforms have allowed artistes to bypass traditional gatekeepers and upload their music directly to a global audience. “This democratisation of music creation has changed the game,” he said. “Today, artists can track their return on investment (ROI) directly through these platforms.”

Despite this direct access, Olumideko noted how revenue recoupment varies depending on an artist’s contractual agreements, particularly 360 deals, which grant labels a share of an artist’s income across various revenue streams.

“The depth of an artist’s existing catalogue and the timing of releases all factor into recoupment timelines,” he stated.

The music exec further highlighted the difference between physical conversions and music streams. “10,000 physical sales are roughly equivalent to one million streams,” he said.

The panel acknowledged the potential for conflict between record labels and artists, with a lack of transparency and legal representation for the artistes during contract negotiations highlighted as potential issues.

“Education is key for both artistes and labels. Artistes need to be well-informed and represented during negotiations to avoid future conflicts,” said Olumideko.

Aranmolate noted that new roles have emerged within the industry due to digitalisation. “Labels are constantly playing catch-up, trying to understand streaming trends and data. This has led to creating new positions like data analysts who specialise in deciphering streaming numbers and user behaviour,” he said.

He emphasised that this opens new career opportunities for anyone wishing to venture into the music industry. Aranmolate further advised aspiring artists to avoid restrictive 360-degree deals and focus on securing distribution deals for more leverage during negotiations.

According to Igbokwe of Mavin Records, many labels are struggling financially because of the music industry’s competitive nature.

“Artists go through phases where their popularity may wane. Labels often sign multiple artists, allowing them to develop and refine their craft while other artists on the roster generate revenue. This ensures a steady stream of income for the label while fostering long-term growth for their artists,” he said.

At the one-day conference, another panel discussion featuring Piriye Isokrari, founder and CEO of Aristokrat Group; Ifeyinwa Anyadiegwu, head of legal at Chocolate City; Jennifer Imion, director of operations for Mavin Records; and Michael Odiong, general manager of Premier Records, explored various strategies that music labels and artistes can adopt to ensure long-term success in the music industry.

Isokrari, the founder of Aristokrat Records, emphasised the importance of ethical business practices as a cornerstone of sustainable growth.

Imion stressed the importance of leveraging data and analytics in decision-making and ensuring that a label constantly adapts to industry trends.

Drawing from Premier Records’ 61-year history, Odiong identified four key business strategies for longevity: brand equity, innovation, creativity, and loyalty. Odiong emphasised the importance of artist loyalty, stating that labels that fail to prioritise the well-being of their artists are unlikely to achieve long-term success.

Anyadiegwu acknowledged the lack of a comprehensive understanding of AI’s role in the music industry and cautioned that legal grey areas would persist until the technology matures.

The discussion also explored strategies for effectively navigating the multitude of digital music distribution platforms available today. The panellists advised labels and artists to develop strong relationships with distributors, utilise data to guide their decisions, set realistic goals, and focus on fostering mutually beneficial partnerships.