Image from Pulse
This episode of loose talk podcast is a defining moment in music history, where an artist with the antecedents and status of MI, stepped into the verbal ring with two of the greatest entertainment journalists in Nigerian history. A lot of jabs were thrown, a lot of knock downs and comebacks, there were a lot of calculated punches and spontaneous outbursts of passion. There was also a lot of ego, enough to have a healthy conversation but a bit over the top at times. The episode is a nearly 3 hour podcast that is definitely not going to be fun to watch, or listen to on mobile data but if you love music, especially, African music or African hip-hop in particular, you need to listen to or watch this episode of the loose talk podcast.
The single most important moment for me, in the podcast’s entire three hours was when MI, Osagie, Loose Kanyon and AOT2 went back and forth over an alternative music platform to iTunes for MI to base the numbers of his Chairman Album. Osagie said that over 90% of Nigerians do not have access to iTunes and majority of Nigerian iTunes users are not even in Nigeria. Remember last November when Nigerian banks positioned themselves as enemies of the music industry and all but eliminated the only platforms for Nigerian artistes to make money off album sales. It is sad and in some ways infuriating that, when Nigerian music is once again pushing continental boundaries our artistes are barely making any money off it directly.
MI’s Chairman album is one of the highest selling albums, if not the highest, since it’s release in 2014, it has made about $120,000 (over N43 million) according to MI over three years. There were a lot features on that album, so all the collaborators have to get paid, producers, sound engineers, marketing and PR teams, the record label has to get paid. By the time all the due diligence is done, MI is taking home a lot less than that and remember, this is money made over three years on what is arguably the highest selling album, in that period. Now, imagine how much up and comers take home. A lot have given up and release entire albums for free on Soundcloud hoping to parlay whatever successes into getting an endorsement and high profile gigs.
It takes an unbelievable amount of time, energy and human resources to make an album. Even musicians with near zero talent hire writers, producers and engineers that know the work and all those people have mouths to feed. So it is extremely important that if you can, pay for your music. A number of Nigerian ATM cards work on Deezer, and UAE iTunes store and Apple music, although most Nigerian songs are not on that store. If you have a dollar card you should be able to access Apple music. You can also try barter cards where you can fund a dollar card in your Naira account.
I also think Nigerian artistes, record labels or at least record label backers and entrepreneurs need to talk to themselves and see how they can parlay their influence and resources into either bringing a foreign player like Pandora, Amazon music, Spotify or Google play music to come in, or improve and expand an indigenous platform like MTN music plus, cloud 9, iRoking or Spinlet. The market is ripe, the music is ready and if we play our cards right this will be the dawn of a new age. What we cannot do is sit here and allow this opportunity go to waste.