The increasingly fascinating fact that the Nigerian music industry is arguably the most innovative and dynamic in Africa, with compelling global attention worth a total of US$39 million in 2016, should send a message profound to the political leaders of our oil-dependent economy. In fact, it was projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4% to reach US$73 million by the previous year, 2021.
Good enough that the gracious, forward-looking and friendly Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the Lagos Center of Excellence has harnessed the largely untapped potential of the music industry. This time it shines a bright light on the dream of Ayo Animashaun directed “The Headies, 2022” which will be the 15th edition of the Nigerian Music Awards.
Scheduled to be held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on September 4, 2022, the anticipated glitzy and glamorous event has begun to generate and capture global attention through fast-spreading social media and beyond.
Besides the iconoclast Burna Boy, who broke the musical record of being the first Nigeria-based music star to win the Grammies in 2021, the mere mention of Wizkid, who leads the nominations with ten, along with Tems and Ayra Starr with eight each, with Davido and Adekunle receiving seven each added more atmosphere and interest for the upcoming music award. But what is it?
Put in its proper perspective, “The Headies” happens to be a music awards show created in 2006 by Nigeria’s Hip Hop World Magazine. Its lofty aim is to recognize the outstanding achievements of the Nigerian music industry. The annual ceremony features performances by established and up-and-coming artists. It usually airs live on HipTV to viewers nationwide.
What will definitely make this year’s edition stand out is the story that the Lagos State Government will make as it debuts as the music industry’s premier financial backer, sealing a partnership with the Headies. This is an academy award inspired by the hugely popular American Grammy Award.
The million naira question that remains includes the important lessons we could all learn from the support of the state government. According to world-renowned veteran music producer, Kenny Ogungbe, the intervention of the Lagos State government is a “watershed moment” for the industry. He rightly noted that the development could potentially propel many homegrown talents onto the world stage.
He made this known at the recent gathering of music industry veterans and practitioners for an aptly labeled pre-award event: “Lagos Constellation of Stars,” hosted by the state government and “Headies.” to celebrate the 2022 award nominees.
“It’s not something we just created today; creating a thriving business for the creatives in our entertainment industry has been part of our economic agenda as government since the beginning.
In fact, Ogungbe, the co-founder of Kennis Music, observed that many record label owners had worked to invest their personal resources to produce most of the contemporary songs creating a positive image for Nigeria across the world. He also pointed out that the intervention initiated by the state government will go a long way in helping young producers produce more talent.
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“Kennis Music has produced over 80 musical albums which have no less than 12 tracks each; these works were produced from our sweat. We never had the opportunity to benefit from the support of any government. Now that we have a reasonable government that believes in the future of young people and their talents coming to support young creative people, this is a powerful turning point for the music industry,” Ogungbe said.
For his part, President and CEO of Smooth Promotions Media and HeadiesAward founder Ayo Animashaun celebrated what he called a “defining moment”, applauding Sanwo-Olu for initiating the intervention. He confessed, with immense pleasure, that this was the first time that a state government had deemed it important to support creative industry talent on a large scale, stressing that the intervention should not be seen as a political decision.
He added that: “If these young Nigerian stars who will be attending the Headies Awards in Atlanta are accepted by the global public, we would have exported products that the world would continue to demand and that would translate into growth in our GDP.” Well said.
But the support from Lagos State offers a golden opportunity to take a holistic look at the Nigerian music industry. The goal is of course to identify and address head-on the challenges facing the industry, in order to make it a true platform not only to entertain us but to create sustainable opportunities for the economic empowerment of our young talents.
As highlighted in my article titled: “Problems in the Entertainment Industry in Nigeria”, May 2003, these include piracy, lack of creativity/originality, professionalism, quality products, initiatives private sector and the specialization of artists. Added to this, of course, is the inexcusable lack of government incentives and necessary patronage.
Piracy, for example, is a worldwide phenomenon, which involves the mass production/dubbing of the creative ingenuity of artists. The works thus produced are of inferior quality. They are acclaimed by the credulous public, who are denied a quality production.
“We are excited to collaborate with practitioners in the creative community to discover more talent and export not only our culture, but also our music”
The government is losing billions of naira from a real source of revenue. More painfully, the artists themselves are brazenly deprived of their source of life. Some smart Alecs are reaping somewhere they’ve never sown a seed. I can feel their passion and their pain.
So the bitter truth is that Nigeria, which gave the civilized world the music genres Afro beat, Juju, Highlife, Fuji, Akwete, is still prostrate like a sleeping giant when it comes to harnessing the enormous potentials inherent in the music industry.
As Professor Femi Osofisan, once Director General of the National Theatre, has rightly stated, our successive governments have shown only cosmetic concern in exploiting the immense benefits flowing from the entertainment industry, while more advanced people make more money from entertainment than from oil.
Entertainment has been one of man’s pastimes since time immemorial. Beyond the hustle and bustle of man’s daily struggles for survival, man has always devised ways and measures to create excitement for himself. Through music and film, folklores and festivals, concerts and games or simply admiring the vast and varied beauties of nature, man has soothed frayed nerves and eased tensions.
Today, however, entertainment has not only proven to be a stress reliever, but also a moneymaker. Those with entrepreneurial skills have taken advantage of other people’s hobbies to raise billions of dollars.
With the Lagos State government leading the response, other states and federal governments, in addition to the private sector, are expected to join the music bandwagon and lend their much needed support. Additionally, there should be an articulated vision to include local musicians and the tourism industry to sell our rich cultural values to the world.
Kudos to Governor Sanwo-Olu.