Welcome AfricaMusicLaw.com (AML) readers! Hope you had a fantastic holiday. Happy New Year! I’m back and you all know what that means. Yes. Y’all got it right. I bring the full court press “legal swag” full of sarcasm, wittiness, legal drama, music business and industry news for a successful and smoking hot music business/law good times on AML. If you are a faithful AML reader, then my success can only extend to you so stay real close to me. 😉
Before I go any farther, all of you have heard or should have heard about the fuel subsidy debate and protests that are ongoing in Nigeria. We’ve seen artists like Don Jazzy, Banky W and others get involved. It is noteworthy that Don Jazzy, a name that appears to be respected by industry heads and the public at large, tweeted this week his regret in voting for President Goodluck Jonathan. This is a clear distance from his proactive actions and endorsement of the President during the 2011elections. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see him and other industry leaders get involved in the debate and protests. Our industry is affected and will be even more affected if we stand on the sidelines. Please use common sense, understand the issues and have a clarity of purpose should you decide to be involved in the protests. Stay tuned for my coverage of the fuel subsidy issue.
How do I officially open 2012 on AML? I set it off like New Castle Striker Demba Ba did against Manchester United this week (Can somebody say 3-0? Ouch! LOL! Sorry Man. U fans I had to go there). On a more serious note, I kick off our year with my 13 Music Business Predictions for Nigeria’s Music Industry in 2012. I would have turned this into a PDF but you all can print or easily enjoy my article on your mobile devices. Industry heads take note. Investors, take note. Everyone reading this, take note. It is gonna be a crazy year ahead! Are you ready? I am.
13 Music Business Predictions for Nigeria’s Music Industry in 2012
- Increased Players in Nigeria’s Music Digital Distribution Space: Can you all say “digital distribution?” That will be the buzz word for 2012 in Nigeria’s music industry. The current real player in Nigeria’s music digital distribution space with the proper infrastructure to potentially play with the big names like Itunes, CD Baby etc. is, truthfully, Ike Orizu’s TruSpot. Other relevant and important sub-distributors who are technically “sub-sub” distributors are Iwantairplay.com, Gidilounge.com, Notjustok.com, Nigerianhiphop.net and 360Nobs.com. New entrants looking to vie for position on Truspot’s level are Iroking owned by Iroko Partners, Sturvsmusic and Spinlet. The last three lack a track record of success or longevity as digital music distributors on the level TruSpot and the sub-distributors have enjoyed, albeit at least two of the new entrants have signed exclusive and non-exclusive distribution deals with some of Nigeria’s artists and labels. Further, with the launch of Googlemusic, YouTubeNigeria and other larger Africa focused digital distributors entering the marketplace, time will reveal the brand strength of these new entrants.
- Increased Entrance of Musicians Age 15-20 & Artists from the UK and Asia: Nigeria’s music industry has been dominated by artists that range from 25-34. However, there is a new crop of Nigerian musicians ready to blow or are already blowing up. They are young, technologically savvy, have more innovative sounds and are ready to take Nigeria’s music industry and its pop culture into the next phase. Examples include David O, Skales, Wizkid, Mo’Cheddah (completed first album at 16) and more. Further, these young entrants into the industry will no longer be limited to Nigeria or the USA. 2012 is the year Nigerian artists from the UK will gain even more recognition in Nigeria and the USA among niche focused Nigerian/African music markets. The UK has a solid Nigerian music movement and Nigerians in countries like Malaysia, among others, are also slowly but surely laying their claims. This is exciting and will create much needed diversity of sounds.
- BEZ & Brymo Blow up: Two names to watch on a global scale in 2012 that I believe will be very big are artists Bez and Brymo. For Bez, I called it in August 2010 on Ladybrillemag.com in an article where I compared Bez to (being) Africa’s John Legend. He is slowly but surely getting on the global radar, as anticipated. With even more aggressive marketing and promotions, there is a likelihood he will enjoy the kind of global attention Asa and Nneka have enjoyed, if not more. As to Brymo, he is arguably one of Chocolate City’s prized “possessions” (for lack of a better word). This 2012, Chocolate City has the opportunity to leverage this talent and throw some aggressive marketing and promotions behind him because he can really rake in some serious Dollars/Pounds/Naira for himself and the brand. Brymo has an indigenous sound that easily appeals to music lovers across the continent; yet is authentically African to intrigue the ears of Americans and other Western music lovers.
- M.I Leaves Chocolate City to Focus on Building Loopy Records: I feel this coming and have felt it for a while. Strictly from a pragmatic and business perspective, it is hard for M.I to be a CEO of Loopy Records, expect to run a successful label managing artists under the Loopy brand; and still remain an artist on Chocolate City. There is an inevitable conflict of interest that will make it hard to do a clean dance on both ends without an agreement redefining artist/label relationship. The split with Chocolate City is inevitable and I think could most likely occur in 2012. When the two split, I think it will be a mature, amicable and mutually respectable decision to still do business together. Accordingly, I will not be surprised if M.I and Chocolate City enter into some form of a hybrid co-branding artist/label agreement. NOTE: M.I is one of the last remaining in “his set” to take the full plunge to operate his own label. TuFace, eLDee, Banky W, D’Banj, Ikechukwu, Darey, among many, are the older crop of artists and M.I’s mates that now run their labels after having worked with Nigeria’s leading labels.
- EME Records & Chocolate City Gain Even More Brand Recognition in the USA: Nigeria’s music industry is becoming increasingly highly relevant to the USA and American artists. With the fan following that Nigerian artists have in Nigeria, there are opportunities to broker deals that could give more visibility to Nigerian artists here in the States. Two brands that can successfully command the respect and broker such deals, I believe, are EME Records and Chocolate City. In 2011, EME gave us Wizkid who did a lot of damage across the continent and on the international front including winning at the MOBO Awards and being nominated at MTV’s Europe Music Awards. In 2010, Chocolate City gave us M.I who made it on the 201o BET Awards nominee list. Storm 360 is yet to place an artist on these important platforms. Kennis Music would have boasted of TuFace as winner of the 2011 BET Awards in the international category but TuFace now represents himself through his label. What’s left has to be labels that are local yet think global and have or can make the key connections to play on the top level with the big girls and boys of America’s music industry. Labels who can broker deals on the kind of high powered result oriented, massive penetration into America’s culture have got to be EME & Chocolate City, pending a comeback from Storm 360. Notice Mo’Hits is not included in the mix even though D’Banj is now signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label. Read my discussions on D’banj’s music deal here to see why Mo’Hits doesn’t cut it on my list for 2012.
- More American Artists Will Perform in Nigeria: As popular as Nigerian music has become, there continues to be a very high demand for American artists from Nigeria’s music fans in Nigeria. With the slump in physical CD sales in the USA and a consolidation of larger American labels and resources, American artists are finding Africa to be a very enticing option. Nigerian promoters, particularly, are only too eager to pay thousands and millions of US dollars for these artists. When these artists show up and honor their obligations to perform, they generate a handsome profit for all involved. It is a win-win situation. So, expect to see even more performances in Nigeria by American acts.
- More Nigerian Artists Will Attempt Collaborations with American Artists: Continuing from above, Nigerian artists know that their audience LOVE American artists. Regardless of how established Nigerian artists have become within and across Africa, they still long to ink collaborations with American artists such as Usher, Drake, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West and the likes. These artists are willing to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if necessary, to get that real respect from their fans on the level American artists enjoy. Exhibit 1 is D’Banj whose collaboration with Snoop Dog made a difference, albeit it cost him millions. Accordingly, watch for an increase in music collaborations between Nigerian and international artists, especially American artists, this year.
- There Will Be Increased Lawsuits or Threats of Lawsuits: This is a music law and business blog penned by a trial attorney representing clients in the fashion and entertainment industry, among others. It is predictable, therefore, that a discussion on lawsuits would be a part of the mix. I believe there will be increased litigation specific to breach of live performance contracts. We saw that trend last year. With more contracts being signed, more performances, more tour dates, this will be where the legal disputes and fights show up. Hopefully this does not get too ugly or deadly. Also, I won’t be surprised to see threats of lawsuits against the newer digital distributors entering the market place; given the exchange of money and contract terms that many artists might not read in their excitement to get cash in exchange for giving up their intellectual property rights.
- There Will be Increased Monetization of Content on Music Blogs: Prior to 2012, we saw websites like BellaNaija and Linda Ikeji (non-music websites) monetize a reasonable size of their content in addition to supplementing their revenue stream through banner advertisements. Most Nigerian owned music blog sites, however, have failed to follow that model sticking mostly with banner advertisements. Given the steep competition and entrance of even more digital distributors, artists and labels expect some of your leading music blogs to begin using the power of their brands to expand and monetize some of their actual content, as they should so long as there is a clear disclaimer evidencing the content has been paid for i.e. “advertisement” or “sponsored content.” Accordingly, put aside your advertising budget because you will need to pay for visibility on these sites in 2012.
TIP ON ADVERTISING: If you are a musician or record label looking to advertise, you have to think about your audience. Who is going to buy your music? For music business, conventions etc. a website like Africamusiclaw.com would make sense, for fashion Ladybrille Magazine, LadybrilleNigeria, StylehouseFiles would make sense. For weddings and fashion events in Nigeria, Bella Naija would be a good destination. For eyeballs to view your content so you can raise awareness, Linda Ikeji might make sense. How about music? Will Ladybrille, Bella Naija etc. readers buy your music? Maybe. But the truthful answer is probably not. Those sites are not heavily focused music sites. Accordingly, it is irrelevant how many pageviews or popularity those sites are known for if their audience will not buy your music; unless you have a different advertising objective.
Accordingly, your first stop when advertising your music or music event is to go to the audience that will buy your music from you. This means e-commerce sites like Truspot, Notjustok, IWantairplay and other music focused blogs should be your first stop. Don’t worry I will find a way to make my money off the referrals I just sent my colleagues. 🙂
- There Will Be Increased Interest in Contracts and Contract Negotiations: As Nigeria’s artists are courted for their music and other intellectual property rights in their music, they have signed exclusive and non-exclusive agreements. Expect more artists to seek knowledge of basic music contracts and intellectual property rights (copyrights in particular) to better understand what it is they are signing. This could produce opportunities for music event production companies, particularly in the diaspora, to launch music events aimed at educating artists.
- Artists Will Become Better at Publicity and Image Branding: We saw a lot of our artists get it right on publicity and image branding, but we also saw many get it wrong. In 2012, artists will become even better on the publicity/image branding front. This means more jobs/ business for image professionals such as stylists, makeup artists, photographers, publicists, videographers and graphic designers.
- Stronger Story Lines in Music Videos: The industry has paid attention to criticisms from the public and media on developing stronger story lines in its music videos. With more film directors entering the music industry, there will be a higher need and demand from artists and labels; for film directors to deliver stronger story lines to retain and keep their business. This in turn, I believe, will yield stronger music videos both in terms of picture quality and story lines this 2012.
- TruSpot Will Grow Even More Powerful as a Respected & Recognized Pan-African Music Brand: They say, “save the best for the last.” New players entering the marketplace are quick to call themselves “Africa’s #1 music (fill in the blank)”. Let me just call it what it is. It is simply a bunch of hype with no substance. TruSpot (for five years) has quietly and cleverly built: 1) the credibility; 2) the relationships; 3) the technological infrastructure; and 4) diversified content offerings that makes it a key player from all angles assessed. Tru Spot will become even more relevant and a powerful, respected and recognized pan-African music brand within and outside Nigeria’s music industry.
The above are my predictions. By January 2013, we will return to see which of my predictions actually came to fruition.
Do you all have your predictions? I want to hear them. Also tell me how you spent your holidays. I am curious to hear. Feel free to share with me in the comment section or email me!