Africa To The World

Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash

Afro-Pop, Congolese-zouk and Nigerian melodies have catapulted Africa to the global scene. The past decade has seen a rapid development in technology and a rise in internet accessibility. Through the internet, music from Africa is becoming more known in the global scene, inspiring  more artists to pursue a music career as a sustainable, possible career.1

Distribution platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify have identified markets within the continent and are currently available all over Africa.  The art of playlisting has seen artists grace the covers of major playlists, growing their fan base at exponential rates. The entrance of Spotify into the market exhibited the mass numbers of consumers in Africa.2 In a continent where 60% of the population are the youth, platforms are now enabling Africans to enter the international space through major playlists such as Africa Rising on Apple Music and No Wahala on Spotify. DSPs such as Boomplay offer support to artists by providing services such as exclusive listening parties and billboards.  Africans are now able to own their own music as these playlists are tailored to the sounds, languages and beats of Africa.

Though the internet can act as an equaliser, underground artists are often misrepresented. Lack of physical offices have been difficult on independent artists, and while playlists have come to favour independent artists, the quick turnover of streaming platforms makes it difficult for unknown artists to create albums. With the exception of iTunes, most listeners are more driven to playlists and streaming platforms due to the large scope of artists and sounds. 

The boom in fiber optics (particularly in  East Africa)  has allowed streaming culture to increase, creating a relationship between DSPs and mobile service distributors. Such partnerships have rocked the continent the past year as it saw Audiomack open offices in Nigeria due to its large population and massive streaming culture. MTN mobile services have been championing mobile service distributors by striking deals with Audiomack and Tidal. This has massively impacted the development of the music sector in Africa. 

Countries such as Tanzania are breaking frontiers and reaching new international audiences thanks to streaming and social media like Instagram and TikTok. Music and social media have become completely intertwined, with platforms like TikTok playing a huge role in artists going viral. An example is “Yea Yea Yea” by Boutross which has massively boosted streaming numbers. Companies like MTN in Nigeria with 17 million subscribers and Safaricom with 10 million subscribers are helping boost artists by selling ringtones. 

With such favorable conditions, industry chiefs are eyeing the African music industry scene. International record companies such as UMG are establishing strong local direct relationships with local telcos and publishing societies. Their main commitment is to support and grow Africa’s domestic music ecosystems while creating new opportunities for Pan- African talent.3 These record companies have understood that music all over Africa is not the same and South Africa is not a true representation of Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, or any other market. They’ve launched offices in Jo’ Burg, Lagos, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon, reaching new audiences not only locally but also regionally. Major record labels are also signing deals with smaller production companies. UMG signed with Boomplay, building a UMG African artist catalogue, and Warner Music has a deal with Nigeria’s recording company Chocolate City.  

The empowering and structuring of locally built African music industries has enabled the cropping of African talent. Innovative services such as Public Relations and Artist and Repertoire has led to the discovery of progressive and creative musicians. While public relations involves creating strategies to interest the public, Artist and Repertoire is responsible for the development of an artist. More artists are being identified by A&Rs, promoting a cycle of fresh artists. This hasn’t just been beneficial for musicians, but also make-up artists, designers, dancers, and road managers are able to grow their presence as well. Blogs, podcasts, and YouTube shows are springing off  music talent and pushing their art even further to the world, resulting in a booming sector of music critique centered on African artists. 

Burna Boy won a Grammy award for his album “Twice As Tall”, Nasty C is the first African to sign to Def Jam while Wizkid has an international tour that sold out in days. Africa is creating an ecosystem framing a symbiotic relationship between its actors and participants.

Footnotes
  1. Angelo Attanasio / Jerónimo Giorgi, “Connecting Africa,” Al Jazeera, n.d., https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2016/connecting-africa-mobile-internet-solar/internet-connecting-africa.html.
  2. MIDEM, “Reinventing Monetisation Sources in East Africa,” www.youtube.com, n.d., https://youtu.be/ALpYgRRtX-s.
  3.  “UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS within AFRICA,” UMG, January 4, 2021, https://www.universalmusic.com/universal-music-group-announces-strategic-leadership-appointments-within-africa/.