Opinion | Africa, On the Rise (Analysis) by Billboard’s Yinka Adegoke @Yinkawrites

I have been wondering when Yinka Adegoke, a Nigerian Journalist employed by Billboard in an editorial capacity, would put his pen to paper, in his capacity, to begin hitting that nail on the head when it comes to the digital revolution taking place in Africa’s music industry, particularly Sub-saharan Africa.

Adegoke sits on the board of Obi Asika and Ngozi Odita led Social Media Week Lagos. He appears to be well versed on the issues concerning the music industry state side and presumably on the continent as well. At some point, Billboard was talking about launching an African Billboard Magazine but I am unsure what became of that.

In any event, it is good to see Adegoke finally synthesize all the information out of the continent regarding the continent’s digital revolution, and now write about this phenomenon that can and should change how the world sees Africa. The hope is that this time, there is truly a meeting of the minds and Africa’s music executives, artists et al. can truly broker deals that do not leave them with the short end of the stick. Needless to say, it is going to also require Africa’s own legal minds, among others, to be a part of ensuring a new reality for the African artist.

Check out excerpts from Adegoke’s piece for Billboard. He uses the ‘Eminado’ video by Tiwa Savage ft. Don Jazzy which is currently entangled in a copyright infringement brouhaha as part of his illustration. He probably should have skipped using that video.



“If you were to take the latest global recorded music data from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), published last week, you could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t a whole lot going on with digital music in Africa.

It’s understandable why the highly regarded report is still conservative towards the continent; the data on the various African markets is sparse, especially when South Africa is removed from the discussion. But, in a sure sign that the music business doesn’t want perception manipulated by a lack of good data, the IFPI broke out two pages in its annual report to give an overview of how the region and some of its key markets are developing.

South Africa, the largest formal music market on the continent, saw digital music grow by 107% in 2013, representing 14% of the total market. The overall formal market was valued at $63 million by IFPI.

IFPI doesn’t provide numbers just yet for the continent’s potentially larger markets like Nigeria (with a population three times that of South Africa) or other creative hotbeds like Ghana, Kenya (estimated to be worth around $50 million) and Angola, among others, but there’s every indication in IFPI’s 2014 report that Africa, which it acknowledges as having had a “huge influence” on global music culture, is about to turn the corner with digital distribution.

The key platform is — similar to the developing story of India and China — the mobile phone. While smartphone penetration is low today in Africa, it is expected to skyrocket with the increasing availability of affordable Android phones from makers like Samsung, who operate on all price tiers of the global market. Nokia and BlackBerry also remain important players in some of these markets.

Mobile broadband grew rapidly, from 2% penetration in 2010 to 11% in 2013, and continues to accelerate, according to ITU.

At last month’s Billboard/Beats FM Music Day at Social Media Week Lagos, Roc Nation’s director of mobile strategies Briant Briggs was as excited as most people about the market’s potential.

“I think there is huge potential in the African Market, with the price of smart phones dropping and penetration rising over the next 18 months,” said Briggs, who is leading a more comprehensive rollout of Roc Nation’s operations across the continent. “As smartphone use rises, there will be more consumption of content, including music.”

The fascinating thing is that on the ground in major cities like Lagos, Accra and Nairobi, there’s been a creative renaissance with music and film over the last decade.

“The industry here went from not being able to play Nigerian music to pretty much playing nothing else,” said DJ Jimmy Jatt, a veteran DJ who was one of those responsible for championing the new sounds of young Lagos.

These developments are at least partly due to the Internet, enabling the teeming youth in many of these cities to share their work more easily than at any time since the collapse of the European-owned major label infrastructure in the 70s and 80s.

The new music of the last decade in cities like Lagos and Accra has evolved into a sound called Afrobeats, a EDM-friendly blend of hip-hop, R&B and various African beats with stars like Wizkid, Olamide, Sarkodie and Tiwa Savage. The music has been distributed for the most part by a mix of bootleg CDs and mobile phone sharing, as well as YouTube and other online services. Ringtones and ringback tones still dominate the formal mobile revenue streams — there is an estimate floating around that Nigerian ringtone market alone was worth $240 million last year. But the local labels often complain of being gouged by the network carriers, who take a cut of revenue up to 80%.

Most artists earn their living from live performances, increasingly the case in the West.

However, the success of these acts internationally — particularly with live shows and digital music — has meant local labels have had to look at building a more formal distribution and royalty payment system particularly as digital partners like Spotify, YouTube and others try to offer more African music to the diaspora. .  .” Billboard has the full story.

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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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