Nigerian Pop Music is fast becoming a dominant force in the music world. The groundbreaking success of “Love Nwantiti”, “Essence”, and more recently “Peru” is proof that if all or most hits on the Nigerian Pop scene get as far as the international market, they will edge out major competitions on top global charts.
Regrettably as is often the case, these songs have to enlist the name and brand of a renowned international artiste to break even.
Nonetheless, a good number of works by afrobeat artistes which have failed to do significantly well in the Nigerian cum African market have gone on to dominate at the foreign market.
Whether it is for growth or to stack up cash in foreign currency, afrobeat artistes are now constantly looking to tap into the foreign market.
Why the International Market Has Constantly Remained a Viable Option for African Artistes?
The list of the biggest recorded music markets in the world is compiled annually by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
According to the report for 2021, growth in the music industry “was driven by streaming, especially by paid subscription streaming revenues, which increased by 18.5%.
Europe, Latin America, and Asia made it as some of the top and fastest regions with the highest growth in recorded music revenue.
The United States has, however, remained the biggest market for recorded music globally with a growth rate of 7.4%.
Revenues in Europe, the second-largest recorded music region in the world, also grew by 3.5% with strong streaming growth of 20.7%.
Any Hope for Africa?
Featured as a region in the IFPI report for the first time, recorded music revenues in Africa and the Middle East region increased by 8.4%. The numbers were said to have been driven primarily by the Middle East and North Africa region (37.8%). The report also noted that streaming dominated with revenues up to 36.4%.
Fireboy’s “Peru” and the Many Benefits of International Collaborations
The success of Fireboy’s “Peru” and other similar projects leave so much to tell that there are immense benefits that comes with international collaborations.
“Peru” was released on 20 July 2021. It was not until Ed Sheeran jumped on it four months later that it immediately put the lights on Fireboy shooting their song to the top of global charts. The remix as a matter of fact replaced even Ed Sheeran’s “Shivers” and Adele’s “Easy on Me” to emerge number one on UK Apple Music Top Songs.
It equally recorded a major milestone by becoming the fastest Afrobeat song to be certified silver in less than 5 weeks. (A record is certified Silver after it has sold over 200,000 units.)
On the heels of the immense success of Ed Sheeran’s “slide-in”, Fireboy was awarded by music streaming platform, Audiomack for surpassing over 350 million streams on the platform.
In fact, Google-related searches show actual requests for “Peru” by Ed Sheeran with results revealing Fireboy as the original owner. Naturally, people would go on to stream his other music.
As it stands, 21 Savage and Blxst have equally jumped on the song which translates to more penetration and earnings for the singer.
When Seeking International Collaborations Becomes a Problem
When African artistes define their genre of music as native to their country or continent, it betrays that ideal when they seek only popular Americans or foreign musicians to sing with, especially since their types of music are worlds apart. That is where intent and purpose fail to meet at a tangent.
Why Other Afrobeat Artistes Make It Big With International Collaborations
Afrobeat artistes are finding new audiences in the US and other international territories following the presence of Spotify and other subscription and advertiser supported platforms like Boomplay, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Google Play, among others.
This is alongside TikTok and other video-based platforms that have accounted for the incredible success of several African songs that usually go global via trends, hashtags, and social media challenges. Master KG’s “Jerusalema” and CKay’s “Love Nwantiti” are just near examples.
Furthermore, several afrobeat artistes who have their singles doing incredibly well in the foreign market do not outright seek international collaborations.
They oftentimes leave the song to do well on their own which end up propelling the foreign artiste to reach out. Even when they seek international collaboration, it is on the heels of a preceding project that‘s gained some level of global acclaim.
“Essence“, “Peru“, “Damn”, and “African Giant” are typical examples that bolster this point.
Justin Bieber was reported to have reached out to Wizkid for a remix on “Essence” because he fell in love with a song that was already doing well on its own.
Ed Sheeran also reached out to Fireboy for the remix of “Peru” because he fell in love with a song that was already doing well. Click here to read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-60147212
Meanwhile, Omah Lay’s “Damn” was already doing well before 6lack opted to do a remix for it.
Burna Boy equally had an epic album in “African Giant” and even though he lost the Grammy that year, the rare feat of the album was the plinth upon which his Grammy win the following year was cemented.
History has therefore shown that an international collaboration for afrobeat stands a good chance of success if the artiste or project either has a good precedent in the foreign market, a record that is already doing well on its own, or best be when the international brand or artiste love the music or genre enough to want to jump or affiliate themselves with it.
This is also bearing in mind that international collaboration will most likely work well for afrobeat artistes like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Omah Lay, Tems, Ayra Starr, Ckay, among others. This is because the type of afrobeat they make — afropop essentially — has a leaning with some of the genres already in the foreign market.
In addition, it is important to mention that it doesn’t matter how large of a profile the foreign artiste has. Nicki Minaj, Lil Bay, Young Thug, and a host of other names were on Davido’s fourth studio project, and the album is no match compared to his antecedent, “A Good Time”.
Wizkid’s “Blessed” is an incredibly sonically rich record but failed to match the same acclaim as ”Essence” despite Damian Marley’s huge profile.
These international collaborations have their own import nonetheless but if they must score any groundbreaking success, it will certainly be for returns that are not short-lived.
It is even more rewarding when the foreign artiste has a level of appreciation for afrobeats. Ed Sheeran for instance has always been a fan of African music. He has in fact made and featured in a number of African music such as ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye‘, and Boa Me by Fuse ODG.
Above all, international collaborations are good for their worth. The difference is that the international market is appreciative of very good music and keeps playing them. As a matter of fact, “Essence” is still being played in major parts of the United States and the UK. It was the background music when Rihanna and ASAP Rocky surprised lucky shoppers at Savage X Fenty Store in L.A. But in Nigeria especially, hits have a way of dying a natural death for another hit.
There are loads of afrobeats songs in the archive that have not exhausted their full glory. It is only a matter of time before we start seeing the pattern of “dead” songs on the afrobeats space resurrecting once they hit the foreign market.
This article was written by Nelson Okoh
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