“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Often quoted around the world, the words first spoken by the late global music icon Bob Marley speak to the transformative qualities of music. From historical to contemporary, the music of Africa is certainly no exception. On Wednesday, February 20, Billboard Africa and Beat 99.9FM co-hosted Billboard Music Day conference, a dynamic series of panels, talks and events that addressed various areas of Africa’s music business and analyzed the current state of popular music in Nigeria.
Event co-chairs Storm 360 CEO Obi Asika, Megaletrics Managing Director Chris Ubosi, and Billboard Africa Chairman Colin Gayle gave introductory remarks, welcoming the packed room and kickstarting the day’s events on the right note. Keynote speaker Yinka Adegoke, the Global deputy editor of Billboard, discussed ways in which the Nigerian scene could possibly engage in the global music business by benchmarking Billboard‘s industry highlights against those of Nigeria. Following Adegoke’s informative talk was a panel featuring a diverse array of notables in the African music scene. Gayle served as moderator, while Flytime Entertainment CEO Cecil Hammond, Now Muzik CEO Efe Omorogbe and Showbiz Network Services’ Head Consultant Edi Lawani engaged in an insightful conversation on the vision for Billboard in Africa and the creation of LiveNation, a U.S. based music promoter, for Africa.
Taking a break from the numbers game, Billboard Africa’s CEO Designate Stephen Newton followed the panel with a master class on “the Internet of things.” Attendees were encouraged to think about the power of everyday objects and the ways in which they socialize our lives. Capitalizing off of the primary emphasis of Social Media Week, Newton spotlighted the development and tweaking of such objects and their becoming more connected, responsive, and smart. With said outlook on the innovative possibilities granted by the Internet, the following panel dove back into the business of music. A host of CEOs in Nigeria’s music scene spoke about the size of the Nigeria music market and the opportunities, or lack thereof, existing in the space. Enterprise Creative CEO and Outsource Media Executive Director Nki Asika steered the panel in the right direction when a set of controversial remarks broke the proverbial third wall and led to an inclusion of attendees in the discussion.
Next, connections between African-American cultural movements and African culture were made by Glu Agency President Marcus Glover in his talk about the power of branding in music. He touched on a wide range of topics from the Harlem Renaissance to former deals made between Jay-Z and Reebok. Afterwards, Glover joined Nigerian recording artist Sasha, Samsung Mobile’s Donald Etim, and Etisalat’s Idiareno Atimomo for a panel discussion on contemporary methods of branding artists, such as growing one’s fanbase on Instagram or receiving a host of advertising opportunities thanks to YouTube.
As the conference neared its end, Nigerian recording artists Banky W, Eldee, and Young Guru talked about how to break into the U.S. market, during a panel moderated by Rab Bakari of Universal Music Group. Additional panels and interactive sessions, including “Bandwidth and Pricing: Monetizing online content,” “Music Section and Sound Engineering,” and Diamond Bank’s “Financing the Entertainment Market,” rounded out the multidimensional list of events offered to over one hundred attendees online and off via live streaming. Billboard Music Day was deemed a success by panelists, speakers and attendees, prompting everyone to immediately anticipate next year’s Social Media Week music panel and the burgeoning opportunities for Nigeria to become a definitive force in today’s global music industry.