Over the last few years, Nigerian music has been getting a lot of air play in Kenya’s main stream media, at the expense of Kenyan music. This has sparked an endless debate and while many agree that the Kenyan music industry is fast growing and with much promise, it is clear that there is still a lot more that ought to be done. Today, I share my views on the factors that have contributed to the success of Nigeria’s music industry, beyond the West African borders. Hopefully, Kenyan artists would be able to pick a few lessons and use them to develop their music careers and our own industry further.
This has been the major selling point for Nigerian music. While various Nigerian artists explore different genres of music among them Hip- hop, Afro Pop and RnB, one thing in all these stands out; the authentic Nigerian sound. This is evident in the use of native languages Igbo and Yoruba in their music, and yet still with an incorporation of English, which is more inclusive.
It is also impossible to miss out on the high energy drum pattern beats used in Nigerian music. Even as every artist aims to sound different from the other and in every new song that they do, it is easy to distinct a Nigerian song from the others, without necessarily knowing much about it.
On the other hand, most Kenyan artists who initially owned Genge and Kapuka styles of music have veered off, with everyone trying to curve their own niche. In the process, many have missed out on that which defines the Kenyan music industry as a whole, and therefore failed to contribute to the creation of a unique Kenyan sound.
Good quality videos.
Nigerian music videos have great visual appeal, thanks to their good quality. One cannot compare 2Face Idibia’s African Queen that ushered the Kenyan audience to Nigeria’s contemporary music, to Tiwa Savage’s Eminado featuring Don Jazzy. While both of these videos are likeable, there is notable improvement on the video quality of the latter.
During a press conference, Alex Okosi, the Senior Vice- President and Managing Director of MTV Networks in Africa attributed the improvement on the quality of Nigerian music videos to training provided by MTV on production of the same. This according to him was crucial when MTV started working in Nigeria, adding that the best way to market oneself was by having high quality music videos.
The quality videos have consistently proven a lot of creativity. With relateable content and the use of hi- tech cameras, a song such as Johnny by Yemmi Alade still draws one to watch it, despite being a simple concept implemented in a rural setting.
A good quality video maybe costly especially to an artist who is not yet established and yet still, the only way to get good returns is through reasonable investment. That way, it is also possible to get bigger platforms such as MTV Base playing such videos, which leads to greater exposure to a larger and diverse audience.
Nigerian artists have mastered the art of standing out.
As mentioned earlier, it is easy to tell a song that has been done by a Nigerian with its distinct Nigerian sound. However, Nigerian artists have mastered the art of standing out. While Davido and WizKid are both new age afro- pop artists, they each have their own distinct sound that would make one choose either over the other for different reasons.
CNBC Africa notes that Nigeria’s music industry produces over 550 albums of different kinds of music annually. This is in comparison to the 1800 releases (songs) in a year done in Kenya, according to Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). While it is important to allow for sufficient time for a song to grow and have its place in the music industry, most Kenyan artists have also allowed their audience to forget about them one too many times, due to their lack of consistency. On the other hand, Nigerian artists keep releasing song after song and even when one may not like a particular song from a particular artist, there is always a next song waiting in line for one to like. Such variety and consistency contributes to growth and the chance for an artist to perfect their craft, constantly engaging their audience and gradually understanding their needs and preferences.
Easy accessibility of Nigerian music.
For a long time, media personalities and players of supporting industries have been blamed for the stagnation of the Kenyan music industry due to their supposed “lack of support”. A few weeks back, PRISK (Performers Rights Society of Kenya) demanded that DJs in Kenya pay Ksh. 15, 000 annually, in order to play Kenyan music. While this may be seen as a move that will help elevate Kenyan music to greater heights, its practicality and success has remained questionable. Nigerian music is already on high rotation and this will remain as long as it is at no extra costs, as compared to Kenyan music. This would also mean the downfall of the Kenyan music industry and lack of a platform for Kenyan artists, especially up- coming artists who above everything else need exposure.
That said, I acknowledge Kenyan artists that are flying the Kenyan flag high, in spite of the numerous challenges that they face in the industry. Bands such as Sauti Sol and Elani are proof that you can still do well even as a Kenyan artist. Consider how well these two Kenyan bands are doing and the factors that I have attributed to the success of Nigerian music.Simple, universal rules. You play your cards right, you win, irrespective of where you are from.
3. http://www.cnbcafrica.com/news/western-africa/2014/05/28/nigeria%E2%80%99s-music-industry-set-to- hit-a-high-note/