Music executives discuss the role streaming and tech disruption will play in the industry’s future

The Nigerian music industry was buzzing with activity on Thursday, May 30, 2024, as the School of Media and Communication at Pan Atlantic University (PAU) in partnership with Aristokrat Group hosted the first Nigeria Media and Music Industry Communication Conference.

Key highlights of the conference include panels on “Music Executives in Today’s World” and “Building a Lasting Legacy: Strategies for Long-term Sustainability in Today’s Industry.”

These sessions focus on the significant impact of streaming and digital disruption on the music industry, specifically the changing roles and responsibilities of music executives and A&Rs, and strategies that music labels and artists can adopt to ensure success in the evolving music Long term successful industry.

The first panel featured industry insiders: Akachi Igbokwe, A&R at Mavin Records, who works closely with Afrobeats stars Rema and Ayra Starr; Lolu Olumideko, Head of Music for West Africa at Sony Music; and Laolu Aranmolate, CEO of Business Development and Digital Strategy at Nooks Recording.

During the session, Igbokwe explained how digitization has revolutionized music creation. “The way music is created today is very different than it was in the past. The accessibility of digital tools allows artists to express themselves and experiment in ways that were not possible before.

Olumideko highlighted how digital music platforms allow artists to bypass traditional gatekeepers and upload their music directly to a global audience. “The democratization of music creation is a game changer,” he said. “Now, artists can directly track their return on investment (ROI) through these platforms.”

Despite this direct access, Olumideko noted how revenue compensation varies based on an artist’s contractual agreement, specifically 360 deals, which grant record labels a share of an artist’s revenue across different revenue streams.

“The depth of an artist’s existing catalog and the timing of releases will all impact the retrieval timeline,” he said.

The music executive further emphasized the difference between physical conversion and music streaming. “10,000 physical sales is roughly equivalent to 1 million live broadcasts,” he said.

The panel acknowledged the potential for conflicts between labels and artists, with a lack of transparency and legal representation for artists during contract negotiations highlighted as potential issues.

“Education is key for both artists and labels. Artists need to be well informed and represented during the negotiation process to avoid future conflicts.

Aranmolate noted that new roles have emerged in the industry due to digitalization. “Record labels are constantly catching up, trying to understand streaming trends and data. This has led to the emergence of new positions, such as data analysts, who specialize in deciphering streaming data and user behavior,” he said.

He emphasized that this opens up new career opportunities for anyone looking to enter the music industry. Aranmolate further advises aspiring artists to avoid restrictive 360-degree deals and focus on securing distribution deals to gain more leverage in negotiations.

Igbokwe of Mavin Records said many record labels are in financial trouble due to the competitive nature of the music industry.

“Artists go through phases of declining popularity. Record labels often sign multiple artists, allowing them to develop and refine their craft while other artists on the roster generate income. This ensures a steady stream of revenue for the label , while promoting the long-term growth of its artists,” he said.

Another panel discussion at the day-long conference was moderated by Piriye Isokrari, Founder and CEO of Aristokrat Group; Ifeyinwa Anyadiegwu, Head of Legal at Chocolate City; Jennifer Imion, Director of Operations, Mavin Records; and Michael Odiong, General Manager of Premier Records, discussed the music factory Various strategies that labels and artists can adopt to ensure long-term success in the music industry.

Isokrari, founder of Aristokrat Records, emphasized the importance of ethical business practices as the cornerstone of sustainable growth.

Imion stressed the importance of leveraging data and analytics in decision-making and ensuring labels continue to adapt to industry trends.

Drawing on Premier Records’ 61-year history, Odiong identified four key business strategies for long-term growth: brand equity, innovation, creativity and loyalty. Odion stressed the importance of artist loyalty and said labels that fail to prioritize their artists’ well-being are unlikely to be successful in the long term.

Anyadiegwu acknowledges that there is a lack of comprehensive understanding of the role of artificial intelligence in the music industry and warns that legal gray areas will persist until the technology matures.

The discussion also explored strategies for effectively navigating today’s many digital music distribution platforms. Panelists advised labels and artists to build strong relationships with publishers, use data to guide their decisions, set realistic goals and focus on cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships.

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