FEATURE: What is wrong with Nigerian music industry?
By Anita Eboigbe
Entertainment enthusiasts have, on many occasions, observed that staggering news is prevalent in the media about Nigerian music industry, artistes and their activities.
From news such as Kiss Daniel is now Kizz Daniel, Runtown is in a battle with former label Eric Manny, Harrysong is claiming to have made progress since he ditched Five Star, to the Okoye twins are separately churning out new songs suggesting that Psquare is no more but Mr P and Rudeboy, has been the trend of the news in recent times.
Many fans of the artistes have also expressed concern that the causes of this trendy news emanate when some of the artistes signed deals in haste without studying the implications of the deal even with their lawyers.
They argue that negative news and gossip both on online and print media are unbecoming of group artistes that claim to belong to a credible industry.
According to them, defining what it takes for Nigerian music scene to be classified as an industry will go a long way in understanding why artistes have problems with contracts and the constant tussle over frivolities.
Also they observe further that the real problem among the artistes is the absence of clear-cut distinction between Nigerian music scene and business.
Mr Josiah Aiyegbeni, a music researcher, said that there ought to be an understanding that beyond the art and passion, a music industry is guided by academic and economic rules which must be studied and planned.
“All that is left when you remove the systematic business of music is the passion and momentarily fame that wanes down when euphoria starts to die.
“This is an awakening to people who go into music without realising that talent is good but an effective flowchart is divine.
“It is this flowchart and its usefulness that makes an industry, the music industry is not left out,’’ Aiyegbeni said.
Music experts, however, insist that while music business in Nigeria has some components of being classified as an industry, it lacks some fundamental values.
According to them, music industry comprises companies and individuals that earn money by creating songs, the organisations, the associations that aid and represent creators and the sellers of such musical materials.
They argue that although Nigerian music scene has companies, groups and individuals involved in the music making process, it lacks structure, accountability and data required for a flowchart to work like well-oiled engines.
Philip Kayode, simple called Pheelz Mr Producer, agreed with this sentiments, observing that lack of structure had been his major challenge in production.
“One of the major challenges is the lack of structure in the industry; there is no parameter to monitor the progress of songs and there is no structure on how to monetise the music industry.
“So, it is a major challenge which I know will be solved very soon,’’ Pheelz said.
However, most of Nigerian musicians blame inadequacies in the sector on lack of structure.
For instance, Paul Play Dairo said that Nigerian music scene had no structure, noting that “I am so ashamed to say that. It doesn’t even create wealth for itself but only depends on corporate Nigeria.’’
Similarly, Patrick Okorie, known as Patoranking, admitted that Nigerian music sector could not be compared with South African music industry in terms of structure.
“South African music industry is more structured but in Nigeria, more money is involved but it lacks structures,’’ he said.
Micheal Stephens, known as Ruggedman, also observed that Nigerian music sector lacked viable documentation for easy reference to archival materials.
He noted that lack of indexed intellectual property had made it possible for some unscrupulous stakeholders to encroach on the creative output of other artistes.
“If structures are in place, things will be well documented; we should be able to know how many record labels are in existence, how much was spent and how much the artistes are making.
“That is why American and British artistes are able to get reward for their intellectual property because the industry is well structured,’’ he said.
In their views, Sound Sultan, Yinka Davies and Brymo, attributed the slow growth of Nigerian music sector to lack of structure.
They observe that accountability — management process that ensures that employees answer to their superior for their actions and that supervisor behaves responsibly as well — is fundamental to the making of Nigerian music industry.
In their opinions, accountability addresses both the organisation’s expectation of the employee and the employee’s expectation of the organisation by which the organisation refers to labels and employee refers to artistes.
They argued further that if accountability existed the way it is should, record labels and artistes would not split up arbitrarily.
They cite recent accountability squabbles involving Kizz Daniel and G-Worldwide, and Runtown and Eric Manny as example.
Austin Olajide, a talent manager, noted that the lack of accountability stemmed from the fact that record labels in Nigeria were most times built out of the artistes or a “star artistes’’ as against the real deal of building artistes in a record label.
“Most times, you hear of a record label because of an artiste and not the other way round.
“It kills the structure and accountability already because these artistes are the image, money spinners and directors of the label’s activities.
“They double as organisation and employee. Who then should they be accountable to?
“It is usually one man who registers a company, probably as a front for another business, then he finds a strong about to blow artiste and invests some money in addition to the bulk of work already done by the artiste.
“The artiste blows himself and the record label at the same time and before you know they have troubles.
“Money cuts and ego bruising are the major issues that lead to the endless social media drama; you cannot be accountable in an environment without structure.
“They hire publicists because that is all you need today; just throw your song in our faces constantly and we begin to hum it.
“The artiste is big now and the record labels begin to ask for irrelevant things,’’ Olajide said.
In his view, Sam Kargbo, a social commentator and film maker, said “the music industry is now populated with people who do not have the professionalism and interest to make good musicians or good music.
“People now run labels when they have no idea about music or the making of music; anybody that can open a beer parlour or a spare parts shop can now run a record label. It is heart rendering and awfully pathetic.’’
Observers in music industry also note that the industry ought to have data to help in forecast and growth reports.
According to them, industries have data reports showing the investments, returns and comprehensive financial route that can be accessed freely or obtained without stress.
They note that such accounts should reflect artistes’ sign-ons, production costs, sales output, deals breakdown and record label expenditures on promotion, among others.
Mr Emmanuel Oyobo, a statistician, explained that there were failed attempts to collate statistics on the music industry because the information hardly existed and mostly vague.
“How do you compile data that even the labels and so called industry chain do not have or give you?
“It is almost as though they only want to unleash this information when they are at war with their artistes.
“A clear example is G-worldwide claiming to spend N120 million on Kizz Daniel; we want to see the breakdown and the album sales and tours tickets sales to judge.
“Data is fundamental in identifying an industry and Nigerian music does not possess coherent data,’’ Oyobo said.
Music lovers, therefore, note that highlighting lack of structure, accountability and data ought not to undermine government policy in music sector.
They call on key stakeholders to understand peculiarities of Nigerian music industry and develop a veritable industry capable of encouraging the government for the purpose of rebranding the nation through music