WeTalkSound Sets To Revolutionise Community Building In Nigeria
No part of the global economy was left untouched by the technological revolution of the 2010s. Across industries, the long reach of internet-powered tools and digital connectivity changed the very nature of long-standing conventions and dictums.
Within the music industry, the effect of technology has heralded the rise of communities of like-minded people who band together over common music preferences and opinions.
A little over half a decade ago, Ibadan-based Dolapo Amusat, was laying the block for one of such communities,
“In my final year, I decided to create a WhatsApp group to talk about music,” he says. “I added my friends and over time my friends added their friends and they added people from other universities. There was no real agenda but it was inspired by Nairaland because I felt people in my generation were not using it as well.”
The group that he formed became WeTalkSound, a thriving community of over 1000 people that is now the largest community of music lovers and emerging artists in Nigeria.
“When we started WeTalkSound, we started WeTalkSport and WeTalkArt too but WeTalkSound is the one that has become a big deal,” Dolapo explains one Friday in July. “But the overall goal was that these different WeTalks would morph into one big community.”
Starting WeTalkSound in his final year was important for the community’s survival as it allowed the momentum from the group’s creation to carry over into post-university life.
Along with other members of the community who left university around the same, Dolapo has turned his focus to spreading the gospel of WeTalkSound.
“Across Nigeria, music is a big deal to a lot of Nigerians,” he says. “People just needed that space where they could come and talk because that’s all it was in the early days. Some of us rapped and sang and we had a number of emerging singers too, and we thought that since we had these people among us, we might as well support them.”
On social media, the community has become famous for its ground-up approach to celebrating members of its community as well as spotlighting newer talent.
Their methods were learned from scratch, trialed when they were figuring out what WeTalkSound would evolve into. “Everything we know about content and music promotion was self-learned in those early days,” Dolapo says.
“Before bigger artists and brands asked us to help them with their campaigns, we experimented everything with our friends when we could take risks and try out different things.”
Personally, Dolapo’s trajectory has been intertwined with the WeTalkSound brand, seeing him move to Lagos in 2018 to work at a start-up as well as network in the city’s creative community.
“In the early days, I pitched WeTalkSound so much,” he says. “A lot of people probably didn’t understand what it was about but I kept entering people’s DMs on Twitter and explain what we were trying to do. Other members of the community would go out and do the same.”
Working across companies like KPMG, Taxify, and presently working with Google Africa, he has amassed years’ worth of knowledge in business operations.
Remarkably, WeTalkSound is still self-funded, reliant on a DIY approach that is now baked into the DNA of the community. “The key has always been to leverage the network we have with writers, producers, OAPs, and others within the community,” Dolapo explains. “We could find a designer to do something for us within the community for free or at a very discounted rate.
So, we’ve focused more on relationships than cash up till now. We’ve never got to the point where we needed a huge injection of cash!”
As their social footprint has increased, visibility has brought more eyes to their work and, inadvertently, more admirers who want to work with them.
This meant that in 2019, they made a decision to create an agency to separate the money-making organ of the collective from its community. “It made sense to separate the community from business because the goal of the community is to support emerging creatives and foster conversations, it was not business,” he says.
“We had to fashion out the agency so that if you approach us we know where to put you. It helped to deal with that ambiguity. It’s probably the best decision we’ve ever made because money can be divisive, although the agency sometimes leverages on the community to amplify certain things. “
Almost five years in, the community can count a series of wins for itself such as providing critical support to artists like Vader The Wildcard and Kemena.
Importantly, every year for the last four years, they have put out an album centered on love and attraction; 2021’s edition, LOFN 4 charted at number one on the Apple Music alternative charts in Nigeria, hinting at success for the community. “When you look at the numbers we are doing independently, without the support of a label, it shows that we are doing something great,” Dolapo says.
Ultimately, the future of WeTalkSound and all its future variants will be hinged on products and live events. “Because a lot of our audience are millennials and Gen Z, we are trying to build apps to meet certain needs and situations that demand them,” Dolapo says.
“Live is also a big part of what the future would look like so we are trying to host more physical events because our community has been almost totally online.”