The Rise of Music Streaming In Nigeria And Its Role In The Development Of The Entertainment Industry
One of the greatest problems that have been identified as a limiter in Nigerian music is the absence of one local streaming powerhouse to properly service the market, while also giving artists an incentive to create art for their core audience.
The Nigeria music industry is considered a graveyard of sorts for music streaming companies. A look at this decade will throw up a litany of companies and investments in that department that failed to break even. And after different rounds of funding, and a huge struggle by the founders and runners to break even, they all packed up and left. The music just won’t take off as a business.
iROKING was the forerunner of the business. After seeing the digital explosion happening, and the accelerated movement of local listening habits from CDs to mobile consumption, the company swung into action to create a product. Founded in September 2010 with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria it offered a range of online media products including its movie streaming website named iROKOtv focused on Nollywood Film productions, and ‘iROKING’, a Nigerian music streaming platform. Today the reality of the market crashed the music arm, while the movies department has gone off to create products that have served Nigerians. A part of it, ROK Studio, was acquired in July French television company Canal+.
The founder of IROKOTV, Jason Njoku, would later explain the reason for the collapse, blaming it on the lack of respect for laws and contracts by artists. He highlighted this as the greatest obstacle to the growth of the music industry in Nigeria.
He said: “We started a little music distribution company called iROKING. The ambition was to replicate what Spotify had started to do in Europe, but more importantly what the Saavn folks were attempting to build in India. Alas whereas ROK has thrived into arguably one of the most valuable independent media companies in Africa, Iroking died a slow cancerous terminal death.”
Music streaming in Nigeria is a necessity for the growth of the entertainment and creative industries. Artists can’t create what they can’t sell and if they can’t make money, they can’t continue to sustain a music career. Also, executives in the industry can’t grow their business and generate revenue if they can’t find a market for the art.
Investors are scared to commit funding for projects and business ventures due to the overwhelming lack of guarantee for their Return On Investments (ROI). if you can’t sell the music, you can’t grow the space. Everybody stays hamstrung without streaming.
The problems plaguing the streaming industry in Nigeria are two-pronged. While the lack of IP laws, and a respect for contracts are debilitating to the creators, more pressing is the lack of a working business model to capture paying consumers, provide them with a great experience, and keep them. Companies including Spinlet, to Cloud9, Music.com.ng, and more recently uduX and Boomplay have all attempted and struggled with it.
While foreign platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and others exist, a number of them are not optimized to cater to Nigerians. The curation of content is mostly off, and fail to reflect the true pulse of the people within Africa.
The collapse of iROKING threw open the market for streaming, effectively launching a scramble that only recently might have increased hope.
Enter MusicTime!, the latest entrant into the streaming market. According to reports, MusicTime! was developed in partnership with MTN and Simfy Africa. The music streaming platform, first introduced to South Africa last December, allows customers to buy time on the service, data inclusive, as opposed to other streaming services that allow users to do a monthly subscription.
What this achieves for the market is to provide easier and affordable music access to the mass market. Music consumers in Nigeria hold the future of the industry in their hands. Streaming companies need to unlock their pockets and let value flow from both ends for growth to occur. At the moment, the emergence of MusicTime! has reawakened the vision iROKING set for the industry and we can only look towards the future in anticipation for more innovative solutions.
Nigeria’s music space continues to attract global attention. Wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido are leading the charge to attract a wider focus on the music. And as the spotlight continues to rest on the creatives from this market, the business has to rise to match that growth and support. Music streaming, as with all markets, is the key to that elevation.