Fuelling the Nigerian entertainment industry through telecommunications

The last ten years have seen an unpredicted growth in the Nigerian entertainment industry. There are several factors and innovations that have played key roles in this transformation.

A performance on the 2015 Project Fame stage.

In the last ten years the Nigerian music industry has experienced a continuous advancement where homemade sounds and music of indigenous flows and languages are desired and distributed both home and abroad.

Once upon a time the craving for Nigerian made music was absent. There was a time when foreign songs ruled our TV screens, radio waves and even the playlists at nightclubs. Our local artistes were kept at the bottom of the shelf. Even in our musical consciousness, foreign artists were the "it" thing.

The likes of Craig David, Destiny Child, Joe, Beanie Man and Usher bring to mind memories of an era of dominance of imported songs in Nigeria.

The imported songs during that era were not just coming from the United States of America but also from within the continent – Central Africa. At a particular point in time the African sounds of Makossa savoured in the moment with Nigerians whining their waists and kicking up their legs to melodies from the likes of Awilo Logomba, Koffi Olumide and the Premier Gaou crew.

The era of Transformation

As we broke out from the rule of foreign music, whether deliberately or coincidentally the advent of mobile telecommunication system in Nigeria took place.  This innovation empowered our journey towards music independence and to our present state where indigenous sounds and homegrown artistes progressively replaced foreign artistes and their songs. This transformation and advancement in technology has seen the Nigerian music taking a new role on a global platform.

Innovation in technology presented a new means of distribution thereby affecting the traditional means, which involved bulk distribution of physical/hard copies of music.

As the growth of the music industry manifested, there was the realization by corporate organizations and several telecommunication companies of the need to tap into this. MTN Nigeria was one of those who decided to explore this and today they are one of the major distributors of Nigerian music.

New streams of revenue

In the last three years over 80 per cent of the earnings of the Nigerian music industry has come from MTN, Globacom, Etisalat, Nigerian Breweries PLC and other corporate giants who have contributed to the incomes of artistes and record labels through brand endorsements, shows and music downloads.

In 2008, MTN created a new stream of revenue for musicians through ring tone downloads as caller tunes. The absence of issues like piracy on this service enabled artists to actually make money from their content.

By 2013, MTN Nigeria had 17 million subscribers on their caller tunes service. Today, the mobile network has over 39 million ring back tune subscribers, beating the number of other networks.

In 2014, Africa’s largest telecoms operator generated five billion Naira from the caller tunes. This money was paid to Nigerian artists who sold their songs on the service.

Endorsements

Since 2012, telecom endorsements have played a major role in boosting booth the person and accounts of Nigerian talent.

In 2012, MTN’s first endorsement contract was with pop singer Davido. He was reportedly paid 30 million Naira to be the MTN Pulse ambassador. Following this, winners of Project Fame (a reality show sponsored by the network) were made ambassadors. These winners include Iyanya (40 million Naira), Mike Anyasodo (10 million Naira), Chidinma (20 million Naira) and Praiz (20 million Naira).

With these deals, MTN also provided some buzz worthy entertainment when they poach Hafeez Saka Oyetoro from Etisalat in a deal reportedly worth 25 million Naira.

Other Nigerian artists who benefitted from their endorsement deals include: Don Jazzy, D’Prince, Wizkid (45 million Naira), Tiwa Savage (30 million Naira) and KCee (25 million Naira).

Building talent

Through reality TV series “Project Fame”, MTN found a way to also be part of the art of music. The talent hunt sponsored by the telecoms company has discovered talent like of Chidinma, Praiz and Iyanya.

On the show, the competitors not only showcase their talent, but they are also trained to perfect their skilled.

Telecommunication continues to bridge the gaps in the entertainment industry with MTN Nigeria being the forerunner.

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