Music Business

Music Business: Nigerian-American Promoters Shun Local Artists, Let’s Talk About It!

OYA! Let’s go dia! What a relief to be able to come up for air, “proper, proper.” AML people, what’s good?!!! There is so much to talk about. I think I’ll set it off with this story that has been floating in my head since the weekend. I just gotta get it out.

Since I started AML, August 23rd, 2011 (do mark your calendars for our one year anniversary together :)), I am yet to reach out to any artist, label etc. for the stories I discuss here. My reasons for taking this approach are two fold: 1) I simply do not have that kind of time. Time is money, money is time. I am on my legal grind and have clients and my businesses to attend to. This is a personal blog to unwind not some serious work. When I write particularly on AML, it is a time to let my hair down and chill; 2) my goal here is to unleash my African legal voice in full force, as stated in my bio, while at the same time giving you all a glimpse of some of the legal issues I deal with on a daily basis,through your legal stories that hit the net. If you do not want me to discuss you, stay out of legal trouble or legal looking trouble.

Accordingly, from where I sit, all I am interested in is: what liabilities, if any, arise from the stories that hit the net? This means from my legally wired perspective, it is absolutely irrelevant whether those stories are true because either way, the question is still:  what are the legal issues that flow from the allegations? If they are false, who should be sued? Who is liable? If they are true, same question “no ni.”

What a way to unwind right? Trust me, y’all won’t be the first to think  or say that. Writing about a topic I LOVE (law) makes me happy. If no one gets it, that is not my palava. I will still be here enjoying myself.

How did I get into all this talk sef? Looool! Anyway, the point of all that was to say I broke my rule this past weekend after I watched the video interview clip below on Sahara Reporters featuring Duncan Daniels.  The interview was conducted by Kulture Shock’s Abi Ishola. It was a good interview but I was disappointed to learn, through the interview, that Nigerian-American promoters shun local acts over acts from Nigeria. I just had to reach out to really see if this explained why many local acts I wonder about like Keno, Zaina etc. are no where to be found. Nigerian-American Promoters, I am very disappointed. Y’all should know better. I am not down with that and now that I know there is an issue, y’all know I’mma speak on it as often as I can.

For starters, let’s be clear. Not all promoters that say they are promoters are in fact one. Second, I have dealt with disgruntled promoter(s) who were left hanging and with injured reputations  after they had forked out large amounts of money (by USA standard) to bring artists from Nigeria to the USA to perform. If executed well, where artists on the continent are unable to fulfil their contractual obligatons, the show continues with the local acts; and the promoter is able to recoup some of the monies invested.

Now on  to the main  reason why AML Nigerian-American promoters, you all, should book and support local Nigerian-American acts  in the USA:

It is Good Business to Support Local Artists: I think, instinctively, it is easy to look at today’s Nigerian music landscape and believe the local Nigerian-American audience/ fans only want to see Nigerian acts from Nigeria. Indeed when you look at the Nigerian Reunion Convention and the Nigerian Entertainment Awards, anyone can easily walk away with that false assumption. It simply is not the case.

First, while acts such as M.I, for example, might be known across Africa and even the UK, when it comes to America’s music markets, despite M.I’s nomination at the 2010 BET Awards, it is still a different ball game. Most people Nigerian/otherwise are more likely  to remember their local acts than a foreign act like M.I.

We all know America is a different music market and while Nigerian artists in Nigeria are slowly but surely making major strides in the UK,  the so called “Afrobeats” culture is yet to really take off here. Indeed, artists who are now becoming the new “Fathers and Mothers” of Nigeria’s music industry had to leave the USA to really get their big break. They include Tiwa Savage, Killz, Naeto C, Banky W and even M.I. Not everyone who has uprooted and moved to Nigeria has been successful.

Times have changed and our local Nigerian-American artists should not have to uproot, leave their families and friends and return to a land they long left to start all over again. They can stay here and be successful if they get support, starting with support from you AML Promoters. Their local brand strength is strong enough to get them on the bill to perform at your events.

In the M.I analogy, for example, if M.I was coming to perform in the cities where  local acts like NAIRA, Zaragretti, Duncan Daniels, Keno, Zainab, Rotimi etc. reside,  there is a higher probability that the locals there would know these local acts and show up to support them than they would M.I. M.I can be recognized at an event like NEA and NRC but not necessarily specific local regional markets. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, Atlanta to Chicago, most will not put their money on it that if they promoted M.I independent of NEA and NRC, the venue would be packed full to capacity. For a true local market penetration, M.I necessarily needs to be anchored by acts like NAIRA, Duncan Daniels etc. in their local markets i.e. their turf.

I have discussed here that when I was in college, BIGGIE was unknown in the States at the time. BIGGIE, through his promoters,  hit every college campus possible. I remember BIGGIE coming to my college campus. I did not know who he was but his promoters made so much hype about him, through the Black Student Union etc., I and my school mates showed up to get an autograph and find out who this guy was.

In 2012, our our local Nigerian-American acts can work hand in hand with our international acts in a way that benefits all parties involved. These local acts went to school (grade school, high school, college) here, they live here and their friends, fan base  et. al know who they are and support them. They are able to pull in an audience from both their alma maters  as well as from their local fan base that have been built over time. These local acts MUST be respected on their turf and should not be shunned as they are a vital part of  helping to take the Nigerian music movement to the global front. If Nigerian music is to go global and if the “music is to pay,” promoters you MUST learn to work with our local artists while including your foreign big name acts like D’Banj etc.

Finally, for those like M.I Abaga, Eva etc. who rap, I think the late Da Grin in an interview with Liz Yemoja stated that he cannot rap better than 50 Cent in English but he can rap better than 50 Cent in Yoruba. As solid as M.I, Eva and many Nigerian rappers in Nigeria are, on US soil in local markets, with all due respect, the analogy Da Grin gave is applicable to the Nigerian American v. the Nigerian rapper.  Our local Nigerian-American artists embody hip-hop culture and for the most part were born or  raised at an early age here in the USA. They include local acts like NAIRA, Wale, Chidi of Chidi Bang, Tunji Balogun and many local Nigerian-American acts. The analogy Da grin gave does not change because our local acts are of Nigerian heritage and are not on a global map.

Promoters, don’t focus entirely on Nigerian artists from the continent. You live in the USA, stop sending money one way with big bucks paid to foreign artists, at great expense to many of you while shunning your local artists. Support your local community and economy by supporting your local Nigerian-American acts.



TUNJI – Towards the Future




NAIRA – See Me See Trouble *Mild strong language used.*


Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website, livestream and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through its brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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