Music means more to us than sound waves through speakers. We connect and disconnect from our environment through music. But more importantly, our music carries with it the essence of our identity and culture. That said, it only makes sense that Nigerians are excited that the world is buying into the Afrobeats genre. Artists such as Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy have championed the recent wave of Nigeria’s music industry into becoming one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. Last month, Wizkid became one of the few to sell out the O2 Arena in under two minutes. Recently, he also became the first African musician to have a song certified platinum in the US.

Beyond the soothing melodies, the industry is contributing to youth employment and empowerment. According to Statista, Nigeria’s music industry is expected to be worth $44million in revenue by 2023. This impressive stat points to one thing — that music is a business that puts food on tables. 

Revenue growth has come from a reversal in music consumption patterns in the last two decades. Up to the early 2000s, British and American hit songs dominated the airwaves and clubs in Nigeria. Not anymore. Reportedly, most Nigerians now prefer songs by their local artistes. In an interview with the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, Nigerian artiste Davido mentioned how Nigerians in the diaspora would specifically request Nigerian music in foreign clubs.

What’s in it for Nigerian showbiz?

The increased international demand for our artists is good for business. They get to earn in stronger currencies, and as a result, increase their profit margins. However, it leaves out the local show business. The logic is simple — the more A-list artists are internationally in demand, the less they will be available for local shows.

According to Chuks Odoh, a music marketing expert, Nigeria’s show business has not been the same in the last three years. “The music industry has not been as reliant on performative shows in the last three years. A large portion of shows these days are sponsored by brands, so we don’t have top musicians touring within Nigeria. What we have most of the time is the Detty December culture, where musicians organise shows at the end of the year,” Odoh said.

This scarcity has a double-edged impact on the industry. For the B-list and C-list artists, this means they become more in-demand, as they are more available. Consequently, this leads to more revenue and recognition for them. However, for show organisers, it means they will have to make do with the available. “The fact that Afrobeats is gaining global recognition will give more room for B-list and C-list artistes to hold their ground within the Nigerian space,” said Odoh.

Touring within Nigeria is, without a doubt, the less profitable option for artistes. Aside from earning in a weaker currency, insecurity and poor infrastructure increase their expenditure. In 2021, Nigeria ranked the 8th least peaceful nation in Africa on the Global Peace Index.

“Abroad, musicians can simply tour by road. You can’t do the same over here, not anymore. Not only are the roads bad, but the country is also generally unsafe. You now need to get extra security, and musicians, along with their teams, have to travel by air for their safety. This is an extra cost, and no matter how much you love Nigeria, profit is important,” Odoh explained.

According to the World Economic Forum, Nigeria ranks 127 out of 138 countries on the Global Competitiveness Index. The same report ranks Nigeria at 132nd for infrastructure. Nigeria’s lack of proper infrastructure makes it difficult for people to see their favourite artistes perform live. However, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that it is launching a N15 trillion infrastructure fund this month. Hopefully, it will take away that barrier and boost the country’s ease of doing business.

Written by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe

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