Nigeria's booming economy is music to the ears

  Africa is enjoying a financial boom,with Nigeria leading the way. The economy of the continent's most populous country grew 15-fold during the first decade of the new millennium, continuing strongly into the second. is progress mirrored by that of its music industry. There is no shortage of talent, so why isn't the Nigerian music industry raking in the big-bucks?

It Nigerian music enjoys myriad influences, called-upon by the country's current leading-lights. Twin-brother duo P-Square lead the way on the RandB scene; their latest album The Invasion selling a million copies in four days.

Singer-songwriter D'banj has produced four successful albums with Don Jazzy, and won three producer of the year awards. Internationally successful, he signed with Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music in 2011.

2face Idibia has also won much acclaim, including Best Male and Artist of the Year at the 2010 MTV African Music Awards. He has had five successful studio albums, and will perform at London's Forum this December.

Economic success brings opportunities for the entertainment industry, but also challenges for those at its forefront.

A Billion Men

These are challenges well-understood by Iboro Otu, a Nigerian filmmaker and founder of media and production company ABillionMen.

Taking its name from Africa's current population, the company provides entertainment business management and consultancy services. It also invests in film and TV production, as well as music production.

Otu, who studied Music Engineering and Production at Wales' Glamorgan University, recognises the talent, but understands the issues preventing it from flourishing. After his studies, he returned to Nigeria to try and put this right, taking part in a project called "Good enterprise in markets and states".

He said: "They were looking to invest $300 million into the Nigerian entertainment sector: music, film, comedy. Being a part of the team, and interfacing with the stakeholders, I got to really understand the major problems in the Nigerian entertainment sector, with distribution being a major issue." 

"I started interfacing with government agencies like the film and video centre and the copyrights commission, and realised there was a great gap between the policies already on the ground, and implementation. This caused a lot of revenue-loss for the country in terms of tax, and for the entertainment industry in terms of the money coming into their pockets."

"Armed with this information, I started putting together a strategy for solving this problem, including actually getting the statistics and information from relevant parties so we could know what's happening where statistically."

Pirates in Alaba

The Nigerian entertainment industry suffers widespread copyright infringement and piracy. Otu said that for every record bought legitimately in Nigeria, over ten pirated copies are sold. What's more, possession of multi-million naira machines allows pirates to mass produce CDs quickly and cheaply.

Most of these CD's are printed in Alaba, Lagos, home to a large market that Otu describes as being "controlled by pirates." Unfortunately, pirates are attractive to record labels, due to their printing capabilities, and the lack of alternative distribution channels.

Otu explained: "It's the pirates who have the machines to spin CDs. They spin more than the industry and sell much more illegitimately than legitimately. Unfortunately there isn't a proper system where point of sale can be aggregated, so only the pirates can tell the artists how many they sell."

- See more at: ABM


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