From Alaba to digital: PR expert, Mayorspeaks opens up on the evolution of music promotion in Nigeria

The model of music distribution in Nigeria has changed rapidly in the last decade. From the physical-copies dominated Alaba to the borderless digital format, the evolution of music promotion has turned on its head.

Adenekan Mayowa

Adenekan Mayowa , a public relation expert and Digital Marketer has been in the game long enough to see this evolution.

”The growth of music promotion is tied to how traditional marketing grew and evolved into digital marketing due to growth in technology, penetration of smartphones, and the availability of Internet facilities, which were some of the market drivers," he said.

Mayorspeaks as he is fondly called by industry stakeholders noted that the Nigerian music industry is one interesting industry that has witnessed substantial growth over the past decades, from the Alaba traditional music promotion, to bloggers, and then to the contemporary digital distribution system.

"Statistia projected that the Nigerian music industry is the fastest-growing market in Africa with a CAGR of over 12% with annual revenue growth from 26 million U.S. dollars in 2014 to 34 million U.S. dollars in 2018, and by 2023 the revenue is expected to amount to 44 million U.S. dollars.

"This growth is owing to the coming of digital distribution of music in Nigeria and the entrance of Music Streaming platforms such as Boomplay, YouTube, Audiomack, Spotify, and many others that gave Nigerian artistes and content creators the chance to sell their music”.

Explaining further the evolution, he pointed out that long before now, artistes followed the traditional ways of promoting their music or intellectual content through radio and TV rotations.

Back then, the only guaranteed way of making money was to sell the rights of their songs or albums to Alaba marketers who help them to promote the songs.

The Alaba mix tape market was created with the sole purpose of reaching a wider range of audience and listeners through the product (mix tape).

It was a real struggle for the artistes back then. This was the ultimate promotion option for Nigerian musicians from the period of 1993-2003 before the use of music blogs such as Tooxclusive, Jaguda, Naijaloaded, Notjustokay, and 360Nobs between 2007–2010," he said.

Artistes eventually abandoned the Alaba mix tape medium due to copyright infringement issues and embraced blogging their music.

"These blogs were used by artistes to only promote their content, but there was no revenue coming from these blogs.

"Previously, artistes had to rely on the popularity they gained from giving away free downloads of their songs in order to make money from organizing shows and stage performances.

"This was the reason why show business witnessed substantial growth in Nigeria. Stand-up comedy was infused with music performances which became a delicacy the Nigerian entertainment audience couldn’t resist."

For Mayorspeaks, one cannot talk about the growth of Nigerian music without mentioning the contribution of digital marketing to digital distribution.

One of the problems artistes faced using Alaba promoters was that, before Digital Distribution, it was very expensive to promote songs and content when you considered handling the production of your CDs by yourself, the marketing, distribution, and sales. Advertising and radio play, in particular, were luxuries that most artistes could not afford back then due to low returns on CD sales.

“Digital marketing, however, allowed the artiste to reach a wider range of targeted audience with a little budget that converts into the sale of their intellectual property and cuts off all the expenses of producing CDs that the Alaba mix tape marketers offered

Back then, these singers could not measure their performance of their songs or have statistics of their songs which may be used in measuring the songs’ virality.

The only strong medium available back then was through the Alaba mix tape platform where DJs will get to play their songs at parties, clubs, radio stations, and TV stations across the country.

This in turn increases the song's popularity Compared to the recent online boom from streaming platforms, artistes can now get tailor-made figures and statistics for their songs and music videos”.

Using the traditional method of marketing employed by the Alaba promoters made it difficult for an artiste to actually be able to track if a song got to its intended audience. But with digital distribution, an artiste’s marketing team can target an audience within a certain age range and reach a wider range of listeners than the analogue way of marketing during the era of the Alaba Mix tapes.

"Digital marketing has been there all along in the journey of Nigerian music," he said.

"It emerged as a result of the increasing use of the internet and online technology in 2012-2013, such as desktops, smartphones, and other digital mediums to create brand awareness.

"Most artistes had to rebrand and innovate in order to flow with this wind of change. This allowed digital marketers to play a role in the growth of Nigerian music through SEO, Social Media Optimization, Influencer Marketing, and Content Marketing.

"This has made it possible for Nigerian music to reach new markets and compete favorably with international artistes.

"An artiste no longer has to depend on the sale of CDs, performance fees, endorsement deals to earn a living from their music. The digital transformation has created wealth for them”.

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