The Nigerian Tech vs Music Industry: My Analogy.
As a lover of music and all things tech, I have been following up on happenings in the Nigerian music industry be it endorsement deals, international collaborations, new artiste signings, scandals and basically all forms of news I come across (most of which I stumble upon on the internet, music tv etc). I have noticed certain trends which I find interesting and to a very large extent, similar to happenings within the technology ecosystem which I am not just enthused about but also a part of.
Before tabling my points, I’ll like you to grasp the meaning of the word ‘Expats’, which I will be using as a premise for my argument (well, sort of) going forward. Now, according to Wikipedia, an ‘expat’ is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship.
Now, when you take a look at both industries (tech x music), you will find that they have quite a considerable number of expats (be it a Yankee returnee who’s back to do music or a foreign educated individual who returned home to work on a tech business) either making good music or creating solutions to diverse variety of problems using technology and building successful tech businesses with markets within and outside Nigeria.
Sometimes last year on twitter, I stumbled on tweets by industry leaders and experts on how foreign educated tech founders (be it MBA, Msc or Bsc) found it easier to secure investments especially from foreign VCs and Angels thus making them successful or investment attractable compared to locally trained counterparts i.e founders from top-ranking tertiary institutions across the country.
Some of these foreign educated tech founders i.e, Mark Essien of Hotels.ng, Iyin Aboyeji of Andela Plus Flutterwave etc., had to ‘defend’ themselves on Twitter with reasons they think and believe the assumptions are wrong. Truthfully, we have also seen some locally trained founders doing really amazing stuff with their businesses securing investment; Jobberman got acquired by One Africa Media (OAM) and in recent times, Sharphire, Printivo, BudgIT, ToLet, Paystack (a ycombinator alumni) etc., each securing investments in the $100k to $3million range.
In the music industry, we have the likes of Dbanj, Don Jazzy, Naeto C, Banky W, Falz, MI, Davido who have made a career for themselves doing good music. One can say that foreign experience, background or orientation helped them birth new, unique sounds, carve their own niches, propel their careers, and of course, revolutionized our music industry.
Our Naija-born-and-bred guys nko? 2Baba, P-square, Wizkid, Flavour, Timaya, Chidinma, 9ice, Ice Prince? The list really is endless. These guys have also succeeded in churning out cool music for our listening pleasure and taking the Nigeria Entertainment Industry beyond borders.
Record Label Bosses, CEOs, Cash Cows / Tech founders, CEOs, Entrepreneurs
Mehn!,These are the MEN DEM! They have horned their skills, talents, developed business sense and acumen, taken big risks, nurtured ideas, businesses and record labels without actually giving a f***. (Maybe they did a little sha. These people need to give public talks more). They failed fast, learnt fast, repeated this cycle several times during their careers and have being forged through the hassle of building successful tech and music businesses, despite harsh economic conditions and unpredictable tomorrows. They have also succeeded in laying the foundation for up and coming talents to thrive. I hail thee! It is not a easy something!
Don Jazzy’s MO-Hits Records (now Mavin Records) with Dbanj’s own D’banj Records, I’m pretty sure you now the rest of the story. We also have Jason Njoku of Iroko TV and Spark with Bastian Gotter (now unto new tech investment ventures). 2Baba; Hypertek Music, Victor Asemota “the Big Chief” of Swiftacorp, Banky W’s EME, Audu Maikori, former Chocolate City boss, M.I present Choc City CEO, Sim Shagaya, former Konga CEO, now chairman, Mark Essien, CEO hotels.ng, Mitchell Elegbe, CEO Interswitch, KK, D1 Ogungbe, Primetime Africa, Funke Opeke of Main One Cable doing lot of good stuff for the enterprise market, there’s also the likes of Chika Nwobi of l5labs, Emeka Okoye of Cymantiks Nigeria Ltd. Choi. Too many legit personalities. Well done sir! Well done ma!, wish to be like you when I grow up…lol.
These people inspire me. They are pioneers, innovators, early adopters, risk takers and game changers who despite all odds, brought varying mix of sounds, vibes, tech products and services for our listening pleasure and use. They set the pace and revolutionized their respective industries. The future is bright. These are the ones that picked their selves and pushed themselves towards becoming successful.
“Reject the tyranny of being picked; Pick yourself“ — Seth Godin.
Record Labels/ HUBs, Accelerators, Business builders etc.
Every now and then, we hear of one artiste or the other using the exit door at a record label to start his/her own record label. In Nigeria, there are Record Labels and then, there are other Record Labels,that dwarf these Record Labels. (Whew! You’d think this is a ‘record label’ text-fight).
For instance, the dissolution of Mo-hits brought forth Mavin Records with Dbanj’s exit birthing D’banj Records. Chocolate City MI, Jesse Jags, Ice Prince ? Remember EME with Wizkid, Skales, Niyola & Banky W and now Starboy with Wizkid? Well, this is just to mention a few who have had a good portfolio of grooming, boosting the careers of a number of successful artistes with varying levels of success in Nigeria. Likewise on the tech side, there is Spark (Hotels.ng, Drinks.ng, ToLet.ng and recently Oga venue), Co-creation Hub (Truppr, BudgIT), WEnnovation Hub, Idea Hub etc., which have contributed to the success of other successful internet businesses and the growth of the Technology ecosystem in general.
Producers / Programmers
Beat making, mixing, sampling, mastering and Music production in general is somewhat synonymous to coding, programming, software and web development. Producers and Programmers perform intellectual tasks that need and stimulate creativity. Programmers spend long hours on their laptops and development environments coupling different chunks of code, functions, classes and libraries to create a bug free and easy to use app, web service or software. Similarly, beat makers/music producers mix different sounds, instrumentals, vocals etc., to make a good dance-able tune, sound or song.
Over the years, we have heard different sounds, beats and rhythms from different music producers. Some are one hit wonders, some have remained consistent with their craft while some have turned musicians and are doing great at it. In the tech world, there are also programmers who have become CEOs, Founders or Co-founders of startups in Nigeria ( e.g, Mark Essien, Ezra Olubi, Shola Akinlade, O.O Nwoye, Opeyemi Obembe, Ahmad Mukoshy)
Good Music = Good Musician + Good Producer.
Good Software/Tech = Good Founder/Ideator + Badass CTO/Developer/ Programmer. You get the gist?
Next Rated / Next Big Thing
Asides the big guys in tech and renowned artistes, there is a countless number of talents, ideas, businesses in the market that are fast rising, generating revenue and buzz locally and internationally, attracting funding, investment, endorsements & record label deals among others. In the tech world, some are niche startups, while in the music industry, some sing different genre of music e.g Tech’s Sharphire guys (Pushcv, Piggybank, Frontdesk), Dr Olumide( Gloo.ng ), Paystack, Printivo, Oga venue and music’s Kiss Daniel, Mr Eazi, Tekno, Simi, Falz just to mention a few.
Startup Weekend ,Demo Day, Pitch / Talent Shows and Music competition
A lot of talented individuals, business ideas, models are out there in the wild looking for ways to get recognition, record deals, funding, co-founders and team to work with and the likes. But guess what? There are countless ways one can get that seed fund or record deal one deserves. In the music industry, we have them in abundance, we literally won’t end this post if names were to be mentioned. A few successful artistes in the game can be seen to have to either won a music competition or was a runner up in such talent shows. For example, Timi dakolo, Omawumi, Chidinma, Iyanya amongst others.
Aso Villa Demo Day, Seedstars Lagos, Starta’s Side Hustle Bootcamp,Startup Weekend, MEST Fireside Chat, Ventures Platform Accelerator Program etc., are some of the platforms which the techies and startup founders can use to get their app, business ideas, to obtain feedback, funding as well as co-founders.
Just as there are musicians, producers, programmers and startup founders, this category of people have a voice, a following. They can influence consumer and customer behaviour, audience perception and reception of a song, beat, software product, web service or app.
cc: 360Nobs (Noble Igwe), Gidilounge(Olumide Adewumi), Techcabal(Bankole Oluwafemi and Seyi Taylor), Techpoint (Adewale Yusuf and team), Notjustok (Ademola Ogundele) and Techloy (Loy Okozie).
Failed Careers / Failed startups
This post will be incomplete if all we do is harp on about recorded success in both industries. Many people have also had their stint in both industries, tried one or two singles, albums, tech startups etc. I once worked on one of the first classified ad listing website for students on campus 2012–2014 (collegeadverts.com) think of it as a jiji or olx for students. It was a failed project. I learnt some lessons, apparently got better and moved on but I am prepping for my grand return. #BeastMode ……Lol.
One thing is evident though; most successful musicians, startup founders have failed at one point in time or the other, it’s that failure coupled with the lessons learnt that made them more successful in their next or present respective ventures and careers. It isn’t the paparazzi — flickering camera lights, red carpets, shows, CEO titles, hype, getting on techcabal or making headlines — that guarantee success but giving your listeners, your market exactly what they want; that nice beat, lyrics, app, web service, software or dance-able jamz.
As Jason Njoku of Iroko TV will say, “Carpe diem” — Seize the Market.
Marc Andreessen’s Product-Market-Fit concept spotlights the need to enter a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. A startup, tech business or musician needs to find and get to product-market-fit to achieve optimum results. These days in the Nigerian Music Industry, a musician’s product-market-fit can be likened to what some regard as ‘commercializing’ their music or giving the “streets” what they want “street ti take over tucking in….scratch that… Silicon Valley ideas o ja wo mo”. Well, sorta.
Copyrights / Cloning
In all honesty, I don’t have to say too much here. It’s no news that songs, beats are being stolen or leaked without any form of royalty been paid to copyright owners. Businesses and models are been cloned as soon as there is a sign of little success, revenue or funding. It happens everywhere. Then again, “ideas are dime in a dozen; execution is key!”. Infact, beats and songs sef yapa, creativity is key!.
Funding, Exits, Record Deals and the Future
All I see is the green-light in both industries going forward. More raw and exceptionally brilliant talents, businesses, ideas are going to be discovered, groomed, and mentored to meet international standard. I believe that in 5–10 years from now, there will be a lot of synergies on both local and international scenes.
Mark Zuckerberg came to Nigeria bruhh! That was legit, to me that’s a very full green-light. Paystack, Hotels.ng, ToLet all managed to secure over a million dollars worth of VC investment each! Davido signed a deal with Sony Music worth a million dollars, BudgIT raised 3 million dollars; Tekno got a deal with Sony Music worth over 3 million dollars, Wizkid got a Grammy nomination with his feature and contributions to Drake’s album — Views. Konga raised more funds, Iroko TV & Canal Plus are successfully spreading tentacles, Interswitch set to be listed on LSE or acquired, Jobberman got acquired by OAM, Iyanya left TripleMG to Mavin Records, Iyin Aboyeji left Andela to Flutterwave Payments in Africa, Gbolahan Fawale left ‘where he left’ to where he is now, Venture Capitals(ist), Angels, Seed Investments etc., are going to increase and there will be bigger valuations for smaller investments and size equity owned by the investors, more confidence in the tech ecosystem, better experienced business leaders and founders, less you-have-to-be-an-IVY-league-school-graduate or ‘foreign trained’, more music collaborations, and signings.
In tech, acquisitions, buyouts, billion dollar valuations will be seen happening right in our ecosystem, startups will secure hundreds of millions in funding/investments.
Many world class developers will rise from the younger generation in Nigeria, we will contribute more to the global open source community and consume less. Support for the tech community and ecosystem in general will increase, more mentors and mentored, more hubs (S/O to Co-creation Hub) and Co-working spaces (Capital square, Cranium One, Litcaf , Venia Business Hub etc).
Looking forward to seeing Nigeria host many international developer conferences and tech events, then experience our tech bubbles. It is expected that huge technological innovations like Virtually Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of things (IoT) and Big Data, will change the way we access, share, consume music, tech products and services. (a blog post on that later).
Mark Essien once said in a tweet a while back that, “Tech will be the new oil coys, people will say I work at a tech company the way they currently do at oil companies”.
NB: This post basically reflects the personal views/perspectives of the writer regarding the on-goings in the tech and music industry in Nigeria. The decision to put up a post regarding this topic was birthed out of a need to give more meaning, insights and understanding to the topic of discuss and not to celebrate a specific group of people or business.
Thanks for reading. Do check back for more posts on my perspectives and opinion on different industries most especially, Tech in Nigeria and beyond.
Thanks to (@AbdullahiFawale) for the edits.