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Nigerian music should explore the popularity of mashups and EDM remixes on social media

Nigerian EDM/ADM artists and DJs have endlessly complained about how Nigerian artists make it hard for them to create official remixes to popular songs.

Teni in her video for 'Case.' (Dr. Dolor)

But by May 2019, a few months after ByteDance acquired Musically and turned it to TikTok, a 19-year-old named Imanbek from Kazakhstan released a fast-paced remix of ‘Roses’ without JHN’s consent. His attempts to reach JHN via Instagram proved abortive.

By September 2019, the song took off in Russia and then slowly, it took over Europe. After initially peaking at No. 79 on the official UK top 40, it reached a new peak of No. 1 by the week of March 20, 2020. It also peaked at No. 1 in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

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In the US, the song also soared from its initial US peak of No. 55 to a career-high peak of No. 4. By April 9, 2020, Genius reports that the song’s remix had been used 2.5 million times on TikTok - as opposed to the 8,000 times that the original song had been used. JHN proceeded to shoot a new video for that remix.

In Nigeria, short-form video is still in its early days. Around 14% of Nigeria uses Instagram. That number is even lower for TikTok and Triller. However, TikTok and Triller have been pivotal in promoting a lot of songs like ‘Duduke’ by Simi, Godly’ by Omah Lay, ‘Infinity’ by Olamide, Know You’ by LadiPoe and Simi and more.

In 2020, Listen Africa analyzed how short-form video platforms are indirectly serving as promo tools for Nigerian music via #Challenge Culture. While Nigerian artists are investing in influencer marketing via short-form video platforms, they have not tapped into the potential of remixes.

Currently, there is an unofficial remix of ‘Case’ by Teni tearing through TikTok, Triller and Instagram Reels. As of the morning of January 24, 2020, #CaseRemixChallenge had over 15.8 million views on TikTok. Off the dance challenge created by UK-based Nigerian dancer, @itsjustnife, #CaseRemixChallenge is also going crazy on Instagram.

Yet, the song remains unofficial.

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Viral tendencies of short-form video social platforms means that artists can have a genuine chance to have their music trend globally. When the #SlomoChallenge took off in Nigeria, foreigners started jumping on it. From there, the popularity of Nigerian songs like ‘Godly’ by Omah Lay, ‘Infinity’ by Olamide and ‘La Cream’ by MixNaija and T-Classic grew.

In fact, ‘La Cream’ went from genuine obscurity to a bubbling under record. If your song trends on TikTok, it will be amplified and it would indirectly improve your numbers on different platforms while riller music usage counts as streams on Apple Music. Vydia also reports that songs can be directly monetized on TikTok.

It seems Nigerian artists either don’t believe in the potential of remixes on short-form video platforms or they just don’t care enough to believe in EDM/ADM remixes generally. Yet, remixes remain an incredible promotional tool to promote artists and even brands.

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Nigerian EDM/ADM artists and DJs have endlessly complained about how Nigerian artists make it hard for them to create official remixes to popular songs. During a 2020 conversation with Pulse Nigeria, Nigerian EDM DJ, Sensei Lo lamented that crass reality.

She says, “In my past experience when reaching out I got turned down several times - no one responds. It's funny and sad because it's either the idea of remixes isn't rated enough or they just don't want to respond to you. But as a DJ I love Live remixing.

“If you come to one of my sets you would see that I mainly play remix versions because that's where you can be creative enough. The problem is that you can't put that on premium streaming platforms because of copyright infringement. But what if the remix is what takes the song to new heights? It's weird how different it is in Nigeria.”

Another DJ, Calix also adds that, “Artists think it’s irrelevant but they don’t know it can promote their track in the international market. A quick story, I remember a popular DJ had to contact a close EDM producer of mine to make a remix of his tracks cause he was going on tour in “Germany” and wanted to play EDM remixes so they could relate more.

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When these acts create remixes to Nigerian mega-hits, those remixes are left on Soundcloud to avoid lawsuits. It then becomes apparent that Nigerian artists don’t understand the power of remixes and even mashups in sparking a successful song. If Nigerian artists won't act, then labels should.

Over the past few weeks, a mash up of 'Kiss It Better' by Rihanna and 'Never Too Much' by Luther Vandross by viral producer, Amorphus became a song titled 'Sunshine' by Fat Joe.

UPDATE: If the mash up of 'Put Your Head On My Shoulder' by Paul Anka and 'Streets' by Doja Cat that's currently going viral via the #SilhoutteChallenge got an official release, Universal Music Group and RCA could split the revenue.

With the emergence of short-form video, it’s become even more imperative that Nigerian artists should have official remix partners. That’s an ecosystem that we need to tap. It’s also a promotional model that Nigerian artists should explore - not just for online marketing alone, even.

Offline, EDM parties and raves can help a good song thrive.

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