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Takeaways: The Industry of Our Dreams, My Five Favorite Features, & Closer to Hello

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Hello AML! Because this is my final entry I will be showcasing a mash up of industry news and my top 5 music features that I was able to write about on AML. As I did my research for my customary article regarding the latest breaking music industry news, I saw a trend in the subject matter and it brought me to a full circle moment here on AML. When I first started this internship, I made a remark about the music industry in parts of Africa, and especially in Nigeria: “Although there is a long way to go in regards to weak governance and adherence to the rule of law, I have faith that even incremental improvements can make a world of a difference…” It is just too fitting that this issue was on the minds of many this past week which fostered a discussion about how to build a more legitimate music industry in Africa.
NECLast week, stakeholders in the entertainment industry gathered at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria in an effort to hammer out troubling issues within the industry, and learn how to “build the dream entertainment industry.”

Before jumping to the problems, there is absolutely no doubt that the Nigerian entertainment industry has experienced an upswing. And it is not only Nigerian music industry that can be a force to reckon with, several other African nations have produced quality musicians that have led to a revival of sorts. All you have to do is peruse AML to see African artists from all over that are producing great music and making a name for themselves. It’s been an absolute treat to be able to feature these artists every Tuesday and expose their greatness to the world. Listening to their music and hearing how they truly poured out their souls to deliver great music made me so much more invested and curious about protecting their rights. In African nations, there are visible signs of weakness that must be rectified within this booming industry or else it could all come to a sudden halt which would do no good. During the discussion at the conference between stakeholders in the industry, the issues of piracy, quality music production, dealing with stardom, and having a great team came at the forefront. Each of these aspects have a place in solidifying a strong and respected music industry. Here are the takeaways from the discussion at the conference along with my own two cents.

Why You Should Care About Piracy

During the conference, the issue of piracy was mostly addressed in terms of piracy within the Nollywood industry. However, piracy is crippling the Nigerian music industry as well. Frank Nweke, Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), delivered a speech during the conference which recognized that the Nigerian entertainment industry, if well structured, had the potential to contribute much more than its current stake to the current Gross Domestic Product, GDP, in Nigeria estimated to be worth $250bn. Why is this crucial? Because a healthy and “happy” GDP could have a large positive impact on nearly EVERYONE within that economy. It means that there could be lower unemployment and wage increases as businesses demand labor to meet the growing economy. It means a better nation as a whole. You should definitely care.

Music We Want To Hear
Interestingly, the conference also discussed the quality content of music which was great to see. I lamented a time or two on AML about the redundancy of what was coming through my speakers as I searched for great artists. At the conference, some contributors in the audience brought up that peculiar balancing act of producing quality music versus specifically producing what society demands. I completely understand why this can be conflicting, however, sometimes society demands only what they are used to. Honestly, if there is no change in the sound of music, how would the listeners even have a gauge of what else is out there? Your originality as an artist could open up a world of sound that the listener had no idea about. Your distinct sound could be so unique that it could be something of your own while still having commercial viability. Your music could potentially stand the test of time because you will garner more respect and financial security to boot. What more could you ask for? Make music that you love and that you think the audience will appreciate even if it seems “different.”
“Stardom Is Not a Permanent Phenomenon”
During the conference, Jimmy Jatt, another panelist, cautioned artists with this notable quote: “Stardom is not a permanent phenomenon.” Remember that track by Oy which featured this proverb: “Life is like a market place, you come, you buy small, you greet some people small, and you leave…” The same goes for stardom. If you manage to hit the big leagues, don’t get so cozy to the point that you think it will last forever. You don’t have to drop millions of dollars on luxury goods for validation from others that you’ve made it. I’m not saying that you can’t spend the fruits of your hard labor but remember those cautionary tales out there of artists that just go broke. You have to be aware of your finances because if your music career doesn’t have the longevity you hoped for, you can still be financially secure. It’s alright to want to live fancy but you don’t want to end up at the point where you have champagne taste with beer money.

The “A” Team
If you ask who the best entertainment accountant, best director of photography or best entertainment lawyer is, you probably will be guessing. The industry needs these key professionals to be able to function optimally. These were the words of Audu Maikori, who was also a panelist at the conference. During my time at AML, I have noticed that having a great team of advisors can make a world of a difference. Artists, do your homework and select great personal and business managers, agents and attorneys so that you can maximize your potential and earnings. When you are striving to produce the best music, doesn’t it make the most sense to be surrounded by those in the industry that are striving for success?

And finally:
“There is no way everything would be handled today; it will be a continuous exercise. At the next event, we would identify some more problems and gather again to talk about them.” Likewise, one article is not enough to explore the issues in the music industry but at least there is a dialogue going. I am so glad that this conference was held because it appears that we are finally heading in the right direction.

My Five Favorite Features
It was so hard to narrow down this list. Every single artist that I have written about here has made their way into my music library and I’m so thankful for that. In no particular order, here are my top five artists that were featured during my time here. These were artists that I found myself listening to over and over again. They were innovative, original, and just pleasing to the ear:
1. Probably For Lovers

2. Adebimpe

3. Africa Latina- DJs Boima & Geko Jones

4. Pictures on Silence

5. Teenage Dirtbag Cover – Temi Dollface

Udeme UwanEvery Goodbye Makes The Next Hello Closer
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to write for AML. I have appreciated the feedback and guidance from Ms. Uduak and the feedback that I’ve gotten from all of you. In my opinion, music just makes everything better and my days have been made better because of all of the great music that I’ve been exposed to. When I hear great music, I’m either transported to a memory associated with that song or I’m building a new one. It’s one of my favorite feelings. I’ve always wanted to be able to fuse my passion for music with the law and that is still my intention.

I fought hard for this esquire title and I intend to use it to the fullest. I want to be able to work with artists in order to cultivate their brands and ensure that their rights are protected. Whether it is at a firm specializing in entertainment law or a company such as Universal Music Group which is an international leader in the recorded music business, I see myself having a role in this realm. And if I have to take some detours along the way in other practice areas (which is common in my field), I definitely have to make my way back. I plan on building my experience to become the best attorney I can be. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to get my feet wet here and my desire to be in this field is stronger than ever before. So it’s definitely not goodbye; I’ll be making my way back so we are closer to hello :).

Questions/Comments can be left below and you can always find me on Twitter @UBUwan. Thanks so much for reading!

-UBU

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Udeme Uwan

Ms. Udeme Uwan is a licensed attorney in the State of California. A graduate of Howard Law School in Washington D.C., Ms. Uwan is an Africa Music Law intern whose editorial intern contributions are in the AML categories of "INDUSTRY NEWS" and "MUSIC". Look for her posts on AML on Tuesdays and Thursdays now until May 2013. Please give her your feedback and let her know how she is doing, what you like and don't like. Thanks!

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