Since time immemorial, one of the biggest problems of the Nigerian music industry has been piracy. Nigerian artistes have been exploited by the multiplicity of Alaba marketers distributing their CDs without authorization.
The proliferation of internet usage by Nigerians in the last 10 years has added a digital layer to that piracy. Thanks to the pervasive uploads by the webosphere, a staggering 80% of Nigerians get their music strictly from unauthorized downloads. Nigerian artistes have also failed to put up a strong fight for the illegal uploads of their songs, making this unrewarding system a norm.
There have been attempts by some artistes to conquer this broken system by exclusive album releases via online stores and streaming apps. The results of these trysts have been album releases that coast through the market unnoticed.
Eventually, the artist is arm wrestled by a dwindling fan base into releasing the album for public access with hopes of raking in revenue from endorsements and concerts. The hard work to make the music itself is largely unrewarded and an already broken system splinters into tinier cracks.
To rehabilitate the Nigerian free music addiction, Nigerian artistes must first work together to create a public consciousness that will not only aggressively end music uploads, but will also reduce public access to platforms where music is pandered cheaply for internet traffic. If the music cannot be downloaded, there will be a demand for alternative means of access.
An alternative means of accessing music must be convenient, cheap and easy to use. Nobody wants to constantly have to fill in their bank details, worry about the dollar to naira conversion rate or the amount of data needed to stream music. There are over 60 million Nigerians who have access to USSD, text messaging and mobile internet services. This is a goldmine opportunity for corporate investors and label executives to look into for record sales.
Other rehab measures include the marketed pre-release of snippets before single or album releases to ensure fans get a feel of what they are about to pay for. It is noteworthy to mention that any price above N30 is an unfair charge for a Nigerian music single. Artistes should also make sure their desired digital distribution platforms work before exclusively releasing their album on them. Extra work should be put into marketing as Nigeria is not yet ready for surprise album drops especially if it has to be paid for.
Some of these measures will need time to take effect, but the long run benefits will be immeasurable as long as fans are not exploited. The days of physical distribution in CDs and DVDs are fast coming to an end
If Nigerian music does not prepare for the digital take over, album sales will generate even less revenue and artistes will undeservedly make infinite losses.