The three-day continental Acces Music Summit in Nairobi was emblematic of the continent’s rich music spectrum, proving Africa has a superfluity of talent, writes Cynthia Mukanzi
In its second league, the Music in Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (Acces) 2018 unveiled a neatly interwoven music complex that was ushered in by a seasoned line up of musicians from Kenya.
During the three-day conference, Kenyan musician, Eric Wainaina, was awarded with the 2018 Music In Africa Honorary award for his notable contribution to the music industry.
This was the beginning of a huge conference that would open gates to thousands of delegates who came to exchange ideas, discover unseen talent and build lasting collaborative bridges.
Among the topics brought afore during panel discussions, keynotes and workshops were; royalty collection, Africa’s music streaming economy, music distribution models, new technology, re-emergence of traditional sounds in East African urban music, music production essentials, accelerating pan-African collaborations and music education in Africa. Each theme of discussion had a panel of respected and experienced industry players.
Eric Wainaina’s keynote address preceded the discussion on royalty collection, Africa’s longstanding music economy crippler.
The 2018 International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) Global Collection Report revealed the continent bolted up its collections to 11.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
However, insufficient legislation and weak copyright enforcement has fueled piracy that infringes on the music societies mandate to collect and disburse payouts to creatives.
CISAC’s regional director, Samuel Sangwa, spelt out the society’s role in persuading governments to set up credible systems for private copying collection and distribution channels in the continent’s music business.
Request Africa, a digital data collecting platform, has taken an explicit stand to lobby for establishment of working systems.
“Request Africa was born of the cry by artistes for their royalty rights. With background in technology, my team sat down to brainstorm how we can address this.
In 2017, musicians were complaining a lot about the status of their payment and so we built Request Africa with technology composed of a hardware and software device that monitors radio stations playing music across Africa and give accurate information to Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to follow up on payments for artistes,” said Ali Dennis, a founding member.
The scope of radio stations in the continent is expansive and the platform’s radar is currently on popular radio stations, 20 of them being Kenyan.
It’s impossible to speak of royalty collection without linking it to distribution models and the music streaming economy. The burst in technology, especially digital revolution, has made music more accessible and easier to distribute, but at a price; it channels hot competition.
During his presentation, Africori founder and CEO, Yoel Kenan, looked at distribution value chains and the available online business models that would be effective for artistes and record labels in Africa.
And since monetising is a big challenge, Kenan said that revenue sharing is a working model, but first, one has to understand their market. And his advice was to pay extra attention to the home audience before drawing in on the regional and international listenership.
It’s a golden lesson that Deedo’s co-founder, Nicolas Diop, had to face while on a music tour in his country, Senegal. He had released an album on Spotify and other international outlets, and he was excited about it.
“With my music on Spotify, I was so happy that I would get international recognition, but when I went on tours to perform, my fans badly wanted my
music, but couldn’t get it.
Spotify is not accessible to everybody, neither is it affordable to all. That’s when I realised it was time to create a streaming and distribution platform that suits African listeners,” he told Spice.
With that, his team decided to prioritise his home audience by creating the streaming app, Deedo, which hosts millions of songs from across the world with a main focus on a plethora of African genres, including those that are not mainstreamed.
One year later after Deedo’s installation, Nix says the number of downloads and revenue collected from the local audience by musicians is a never-before-seen success.
This success will only be sustainable in an industry with proper artiste promotion and management strategies as was the insight from Fela Kuti’s ex-manager, Rikki Stein, whose sentiments were echoed by Cameroonian musician, Blick Bassy.
On music production essentials and the re-emergence of traditional sounds in East Africa, Kenya’s Decimal Record’s Eric Musyoka and producer Tim Rimbui and Nick Loder (UK), delved on the issue. Rimbui’s thoughts were for African producers to venture more into specialising in niches that correspond with their market.
Kenyan percussionist Kasiva Mutua and Mwalimu Gregg Tendwa streamlined the discussion on the re-emergence of traditional music sounds in the region’s urban music sphere. Sharing their experiences and undying love for this sound, the two were positive that traditional beats will not be extinct.
Kenyan radio presenter Adelle Onyango, 254 musician Blinky Bill and Nigeria’s Mr Eazi trailed through nuggets for hit music linkages reminding delegates that African artistes do not need international musician to make them famous.
“We are living in times that are changing and African artistes have a lot of power. All we need among other essentials, is loyalty from our audience,” Blinky said.