Across his journey, a key question that has always presented itself is how to enable the dynamic of extracting maximum benefit for the creator while delivering world-class service can be achieved.

In his latest apparition, he is the CEO of Measurable Accurate Digital Solutions, a digital content provider operating out of major urban centres in West Africa and beyond that is invested in the growth of music from Africa.

In extracts from an interview held recently, he talks about the reason for establishing MAD Solutions, afrobeats’ international reputation, and the digital content distribution business.

Starting MAD Solutions:
Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry
Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry

In March 2017, I left Mcomm and went ahead to start MAD Solutions. At MAD Solutions, we first focused on international distribution because we felt that, apart from the local distribution in Africa, we felt afrobeats was getting bigger and we were seeing the stats. People were listening to afrobeats all over the world and I felt that we needed to go a step higher and get proper international licensing deals for our artists.

I’ve always been against going through third parties. Back then, when people wanted to upload their music on Apple Music and Spotify, they'd go through TuneCore or go through international companies to do that because we didn’t have Nigerian companies that had these licensing deals for those platforms. We went ahead and fought the battle and we were able to get into the door.

What the journey was like:

We first got our licensing deal with Apple Music, then YouTube, and other platforms. Then we joined the Merlin body that gave us access to more licensing deals. With that, we were a full-fledged digital content distribution company, both audio and video. Currently, we distribute to over 45 DSPs, globally and worldwide.

What does MAD Solutions do now:

Measurable Accurate Digital Solutions is a digital content provider. We’re into digital content distribution, digital marketing, and mobile value-added services.

Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry
Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry
What are the benefits of being able to deliver internationally directly:

The technology allows you to deliver the music fast, when we do it from our back-end, we’re able to get it to Apple Music in less than 10 minutes with the correct meta-data. Musicians can also track and get access to analytics. Aside from getting the deals, on our back-end, our clients have accounts where they are able to see analytics in real-time. They can see how many streams or how many plays they are getting on Apple Music or Spotify or Pandora. It gives them an idea of how they’re performing: whether good, average, or bad.

What’s something about releasing music in 2020 that people need to know:

You shouldn’t want to release music and not have complete assets. You should have an E.P.K., hi-res pictures, and release literature. These are things you need to have for when we are making pitches on behalf of the artist to the DSPs so that they are well-informed and when we say we need certain support from them, they get why and see the plan.

DSPs receive music from across the world every day, so for you to be prioritized, it has to be your distributor being able to make great pitches with the assets you’ve provided. It’s those assets that help you get the placement and priority.

What kind of artists do you often work with:

We also look out for artists that have label structures or just a management structure where if you require material from the artist, it can be provided unlike dealing with an artist who might be recording and be unable to handle all of that. But when they function within a structure, we’re able to achieve more.

Some of the people we’ve been able to see perfectly create fantastic teams around them that function properly are some of our clients like Reekado Banks, Maleek Berry, Darey, Seyi Shay, and Skales. They’ve been able to create the right structure where we get on Zoom calls and we have teams working across continents.

That’s why these artists get a lot of priority on platforms. If you check on Apple Music, Reekado Banks’ upcoming project has been featured for almost a month, and it all falls back to the level of pitching and the kind of assets provided, it helps us get the best priority placement that we can get.

Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry
Bugwu Aneto-Okeke of MAD Solutions discusses COVID-19's effects on Nigeria’s music industry
How COVID-19 affected the music industry:

There was a positive and negative effect on the business and on the creative aspect — with regards to artists. Artists had their plans before COVID-19 hit. With COVID-19 hitting and many artists already putting those plans together, they had to hold off on plans. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, artists didn't want to drop bodies of work because everyone felt that the lockdown would just be one-month-long or something.

No one knew it was going to go that long. A lot of artists pushed plans for their projects down saying they couldn't drop a project if they couldn't promote it. The effect it had on the business, at the beginning of COVID-19, was that it created a sense of uncertainty. A lot of plans and projects were put on hold, but that was just the beginning phase.

When it became obvious that the pandemic was going to stay longer, the artists realised that all their avenues for making money were gone and people were home not listening to them. With artists realising that they needed to be heard, the digital distribution business became essential services for the industry because the lifeline of the entire industry and the survival of artists came down to distributors. Distributors had to become innovative.

For the negative side, it was the effect on the economy and the music industry itself. For artists from Nigeria, where there was not any relief from the government, unlike places like Canada, there was no relief or support for artists.

For example, Spotify launched a GoFundMe for fans of artists to contribute to the creators during that period. But Nigeria was an exception, down here there was nothing like that. They were not able to perform and the only revenue source they had was streaming income and to be able to get that they needed to have a body of work, visuals, and all that.

After the lockdown was eased, there was still pressure because artists didn't have the money to shoot the music videos they wanted because they hadn't been performing for a while and the only income they could rely on was streaming income. Typically an artist could do three shows in a month and make about N15 million but with that source of income shut off, there was a problem.

When the lockdown was eased and artists wanted to shoot videos in a controlled environment, there was a question of how they could fund the expenses and it was a big situation because artists had to fall back on distributors to provide advances to them for music videos. It was a huge disadvantage for Nigeria distros because we don't have access to credit unlike distros in other countries.