Pierre Donadio (AFP)
Abidjan, Ivory Coast ●
Thursday, November 24, 2022
The massive popularity of streaming platforms has propelled Nigerian and other artists from Anglophone Africa to unprecedented popularity across the world.
Musicians from francophone countries on the continent are now looking to take advantage of the boom.
The leader in streaming in Africa is Boomplay, whose library of 80 million tracks is nearly on par with Deezer and Spotify.
But the big difference between Boomplay and the global giants is a catalog that focuses heavily on African music rather than a wide range of genres.
Paula Oudry, director of the Bombay branch in Ivory Coast, stated that the app was created in Nigeria in 2015 and is now present in six African countries.
“We offer a very large library that allows you to discover many local artists,” she said.
Ad-supported and free to the user, Boomplay has blazed an international path for Afro-Nigerian pop music and now hopes to do the same for francophone African stars.
“Right now it’s much easier to promote Nigerian artists in the francophone world, but we’re experimenting in the opposite direction, like Ivorian rapper Didi B,” Audrey explains.
“There are small niche markets, and our role is to promote artists so that they find a larger audience.”
For industry experts who gathered last week in Abidjan for the African Music Industry Expo, the digital revolution promises incredible opportunities for West African artists.
African music streaming revenue is expected to more than triple within five years, from $92.9 million in 2021 to $314.6 million in 2026, according to research firm Dataxis.
“It all started with digital platforms,” said Akuchai Okyo, head of international development for Africa at Sacem, an advocacy group representing artists.
“Look at the success of the South African song ‘Jerusalem’ or the Nigerian singer ‘Calm Down’, which achieved 50 million songs in France alone,” he said.
Magali Palmira-Wora, who specializes in francophone Africa at US distributor The Orchard, noted a learning curve.
She said, “Artists from Francophone Africa must learn to enter the platforms.”
“Spotify, for example, has an Afro-Pop playlist — you have to explain to the artists why it’s important to be on it.”
Good exposure to the platforms breaks down barriers to larger markets and paves the way for a much more international career than before.
Ivorian rapper Suspect 95 said: “Wherever you are, you can listen to my songs with just one click. With digital, access to information is more complete. It allows local music industries to grow, and as artists, it allows us to be seen.”
“We no longer need to go through networks that made it difficult to send my CD to such and such a country.”
And five countries — South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco — account for 86% of current African revenues, according to Dataxis.
But the 400 million potential listeners in francophone sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of whom are under the age of 25, represent a promising untapped market.
Ensuring that emerging independent artists can monetize mainstream platforms will be a major challenge.
Of course, if you sign up for a specialty [music company]It’s easier — you’re using an existing network” to get royalties payments, said Suspect 95, who signed with Universal.
“For independent artists, it’s much more difficult now.”
“The main platforms that heavily use our songs have not yet paid the rights they should in Côte d’Ivoire,” said Karim Ouattara, Director General of the Ivorian Copyright Office.
But we are in negotiations and we should see progress by the end of the year.