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How streaming services are leveling the field for gospel music artists

Before 2021, a streaming service advertising a gospel music artist on major streets in Nigeria’s commercial capital would have been an anomaly.

You are more likely to see the face of secular artists such as Davido, Burna Boy, or Wizkid on any of these campaigns. Gospel artists, while they play in a genre that is arguably the largest and most popular in the country – being a deeply religious country with the population divided almost in half by two religions – were before now not considered marketing prospects.

But that appears to be changing.

Boomplay, the largest streaming service by share of market (about 80% share) earlier this year splashed the face of Osinachi Joseph Egbu popularly known by her stage name Sinach on an advertising campaign on major streets in Lagos. YouTube followed up by streaming her album launch on Easter Sunday with over 200,000 participants watching.

Sinach’s acclaim isn’t just about the big numbers her songs pull on streaming platforms. In 2020, she grabbed the whole world’s attention with her song ‘Way Maker’. The song was awarded the Song of the Year at the Dove Awards 2020 in the United States.

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Prior to the Dove Award win, the song had gained worldwide popularity as many people embraced it in different languages. Way Maker has been covered by a number of globally acclaimed Christian music artists such as Michael W. Smith, Leeland; Christafari; Passion Worship Bank; Maranda Curtis; and Bethel Music to mention a few.

Earlier in May 2020, two covers of ‘Way Maker’ by Michael W. Smith and Leeland were featured in the top 10 Hot Christian Songs chart. According to Billboard, It was the first time in the history of the Hot Christian songs that two versions of the same song have resided simultaneously in the top 10. Leeland’s version reached ninth on the chart, while Michael W. Smith’s version hit the third position.

Way Maker is currently the most streamed gospel song on YouTube with over 178 million streams. It also notched up the numbers on 4.40 million streams on Audiomack.

Like Sinach, artists like Nathaniel Bassey, Eben, Joe Praise, Tope Alabi, Mercy Chinwo, Chioma Jesus, Frank Edwards, Tim Godfrey, Moses Bliss, Ada, and many others have been making good use of the streaming services to shore up their revenue.

Nathaniel Bassey, for instance, released his song Hallelujah Challenge for the first time on a streaming service, Instagram Live. Three months after it was released, the song has received 5.2 million streams on YouTube. Nathaniel Bassey is the second most streamed artist on Boomplay, after Sinach.

Sinach (23.9M Boomplay streams) and Nathaniel Bassey (22.3M Boomplay streams) have hundreds of thousands of Spotify followers and millions of Instagram followers alongside their millions of Boomplay streams.

Other artists with high streaming numbers include Moses Bliss, whose song Too Faithful was streamed 2 million times in one month on Boomplay. On YouTube, Too Faithfull has garnered 19 million streams.

Streaming services have been the mainstay of music artists including those in gospel in light of the pandemic that hit many countries in 2020. Prior to 2020, churches and concerts were the main revenue sources for gospel music artists. The top acts in the genre like Sinach were paid up to $50,000 to sing. A few of them also embarked on music tours which earned them foreign currencies from churches and tour organisers and sponsors.

But the pandemic and the lockdown imposed by the federal government as a measure to contain the virus took away many of the revenues. To stay in business, many gospel artists turned to streaming platforms like Boomplay, Apple music, Spotify, YouTube, Audiomack.

Artists are entitled to royalties from having their songs streamed on music sites like Apple music, Spotify, Google play music and other streaming sites.

Apple music has gone from paying $0.0064 per stream in 2017 to $0.00783 per stream in 2019, artists on the platform across the world would require a minimum of about 200, 000 streams to earn the US minimum monthly wage amount.

YouTube started by paying artists $0.00074, then they decided that paying $0.00069 would be better making an artist to first attain a minimum of 2, 133,333 total plays to meet up with the minimum wage amount in the U.S.

According to digital music news, Napster pays $0.01682 per play and now they pay $0.019 per stream. In order to meet up with the U.S monthly minimum wage amount, an artist would need to attain 77,474 plays. This site has about 5 million subscribers.

Boomplay pays around N20.00 to N50.00 per stream or Download while Amazon pays you when someone buys your song.

According to some sources, SoundCloud pays about $10 for every 5000 streams.

Through these streaming platforms can now earn multiple revenue streams as well as gain fans from across the world.

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