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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The MTV Africa Music Awards [MAMAs] is Over. Now What For African Musicians?

MAMAs generated so much publicity and promotions for the MTV brand and African artists worldwide. Even my local newspaper, here in the States, carried the headlines announcing the first ever MAMAs. But, now that it is over, what is its impact /effect on Africa’s artists and music industries? What are the pros and cons of the first ever MAMAs in Africa?

  1. Africa’s local artists finally got the recognition they deserved [This is of course debatable if you are not from Nigeria/South Africa, the two countries who dominated the Awards].
  2. Nigeria/South Africa/Africa’s music can now be exported globally because once the world sees these artists, it will create a demand for Africa’s music.
  3. African artists got to share the stage with international artists under a widely recognized brand, MTV, which could lead to African artists collaborating with their international counterparts.
  1. While mostly Nigerian artists, for example, got the recognition they deserved on a global scale, it is unclear the exposure will create a demand for Nigeria/Africa’s music, globally. Objectively, the majority of the genres of musical works showcased at MAMAs i.e. hip-hop, R &B, Pop & Alternative are replicas of American music and culture seen worldwide. As such, it logically cannot equate to a higher demand for African artists and their music. See MTV Asia Music Awards. Asian artists and music are yet to really break through the global music sphere, inspite of exposure on MTV.
  2.  MAMAs, arguably, just opened the gates for large music multinationals to dominate and subordinate Africa’s emerging/infant music industries. With Nigeria, for example, MAMAs’ effectively makes Nigeria’s music industry an easy target for multinationals. Currently, in the global music industry, six major multinationals dominate: Sony, BMG, EMI, Warner, Universal and Polygram. Of those six, four have subsidiaries in South Africa. These multi-nationals enter the marketplace of a foreign country, set up shop and just plain dominate. In South Africa, for example, the aforementioned multinationals, at one point, owned 92% of South Africa’s music industry.
  3. The entrance of large multinational record labels, in a country like Nigeria, as alluded to, poses a threat to existing independent record labels. Majority of Nigeria’s independent labels are not linked in the global distribution network. They also lack the capital required for the manufacturing/production processes of music. Yet, they have expended so much energies in getting their artists the visibility and spotlight needed. With a multinational’s existing network, global reach and distribution, it would inevitably cause the Independent labels' market share to shrink, quickly.
  4. MAMAs, arguably, might have just helped usher in the death of authentic African music. The recently completed MAMAs’ award categories were Hip-hop, R &B, Pop, or Alternative music. These categories created and will continue to create an increase in demand by Africa’s music consumers, especially youths, for the above sounds that are already highly coveted globally. In turn, there will be a decrease in demand for more native or authentic African sounds. In the case of Nigeria, for example, Fuji music.
It remains to be seen the actual effect of MAMAs on Africa and its music industries. I will indeed be observing closely. In the meantime, have a super brilliant week ahead!



Anonymous said...

Re: cons of MAMAs, keep in mind that we're operating in a new music economy. Recording is cheap, as is digital distribution (and MP3 sales surpassed CDs for a couple of major labels in the US last month). The primary function of the labels now, then, is talent discovery and promotion. I think you're going to see less and less of the 10-album contract leveraged against advances for studio time and production, requiring the label to recoup its investment before the artist sees any money. I think that a new template for artist-label agreements will be fashioned, provided these artists have savvy representation (and a lot of them do).

I think the market is simply too diverse and fluid to be dominated the way it used to. People get music in far too many ways, and performance, not recording, is the heart of the musical experience again. said...

True Oluseyi. I think it will throw a curve ball to the giant record labels but for independent labels, it might also beg the question why can't today's new artists just directly promote to their audience via social media and new technologies, which they are already doing.

If they get to keep the whole pie why even bother with any of the record labels? It is probably why we are seeing an increase in independent labels as artists themselves set up their shops and doing their own marketing thanks to the internet. Intriguing all the same. . .

TimmyNaija said...

I have my own points and i will say this award is no point at all,if music in Africa will be toyed with all the time like they have always done in the past.
1 how can 9ice win hiphop award when he doesnt sing hiphop?
2 how can an award for best video go to WIND AM WELL when other better videos are avaible on the continent in same year?
There are other Nigerians that deserved this 2 awards instead of the people that got it.....
3 how can Naeto c win award for best new artist where we have Asa for that....
Mtv base award needs to be questioned.
This is my view and points and am not hating but this is just a way forward for music in africa and not just Naija.

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