We all started the year 2020 with fantastic goals to be accomplished, from afar 2020 seemed like the year we will take things to the next level, in our personal life, finance, relationships, business etc. Even our Nigerian politicians have been talking about ‘Vision 2020’ years before it finally arrived like it is the year when Nigeria through a sudden cosmic change becomes the envy of other nations.
Unfortunately, 2020 is not that year we imagined it to be, the Corona Virus pandemic changed a lot of things for us.
Our simple daily lives, human interaction and how we conduct business have all been impacted by COVID-19.
Some of those that have to bear the brunt of the impact of COVID-19 are musicians across the globe. At the core of musicianship is having an unabated interaction with fans through live stage performances. There and then the musician gets to feel the pulse of the fans who scream back your lyrics to you. He/she experiences firsthand how their music makes the fans feel.
Much of such experiences were cut short by the spread of Corona Virus. To curb the rapid spread, public gatherings were outlawed and if there must be any, stringent rules had to be adhered to ensure safety.
Sadly, music concerts were all cancelled, artistes can longer have an open concert with fans due to the restriction in numbers. The BET was hosted virtually, Coachella was cancelled and this became the fate of other music and entertainment shows. It was either done virtually or outrightly cancelled.
Some of our big music stars unwilling had to end their tours abruptly like Davido, some never got the chance to kick start their tour like Burna Boy, Fireboy DML, Rema etc.
Performing at gigs and getting paid is the primary source of revenue for Nigerian artistes and that income stream has been shut out for as long as the pandemic lingers or pending when an acceptable form of treatment for COVID-19 is available.
Nigerian musicians charge a fortune to show up and perform at a concert or gig from about N2 million to as high as N50 million. That has not happened in the past few months since the advent of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, someone like Omah Lay can’t cash out as supposed doing live shows because of the pandemic as well as other buzzing new acts.
As much as Nigeria has a large music market by virtue of its population, unfortunately, a vast majority of music consumers in the country do not pay for it. So it is possible an artiste has a buzzing track but makes very little from it by way of music sales. That is why they often look out for gigs to balance up the finance. Blogs publishing songs for free is still a thing that is very predominant here.
Although in the past 4 to 5 years Nigerians musicians have all learnt to monetize their songs on digital platforms, some of the most popular and most frequently used digital stores are not yet available in Nigeria. Notably Spotify.
In recent times Apple Music has shown more presence in Africa by expanding into other African countries. We now have YouTube Music available here, Tidal is reportedly launching in Nigeria and some other digital platforms are still making plans to come. However, Nigerians are yet to embrace buying of music on digital stores as a thing.
Now with our poor culture to buying music, Nigerian artistes have to depend on fans outside Nigeria in places like America and Europe to make money from music sales.
Another issue that stands in the way of Nigerian musicians earning optimally from the music they make is the issue of structure. In the context of this writing, copyright laws and bodies are almost ineffective, hence intellectual materials from artistes are used without proper compensation. Then again, the government has not always been supportive of the entertainment sector even though it is one of the largest employers of labour in recent times.
The music business is also capital intensive, often times much of what an artiste earns from paid concert gigs gets reinvested back into making the next music, shooting videos and also doing PR.
At the moment with the COVID-19 restriction on concerts still in place some of our favourite musicians are experiencing a drop in their finances especially the B, C, D and E-list artistes. That would probably explain why some are keeping a low profile on social media. If these restrictions continue some would turn up broke.
The candid truth is that COVID-19 has impacted our favourite Nigerian musicians albeit negatively just like you and I. Alternative sources of income would now be a serious topic among them. Other creative ways of selling music must be adopted for anyone who wants to stay afloat.
Embracing digital music sales is now top priority and the only way forward.
This is the point when true fans can take the high road by purchasing music from their favourite Nigerian artistes on digital platforms available to them.
Except for those artistes with deep industry connection inside and outside Nigeria, ongoing endorsement deals and a large fan base outside the country everyone else is pretty much having a hard time.
When you say you are a fan, back that up with your money as well, learn to buy music as this is now the primary means your faves might be making money from their music.