Nigeria: The New Afrobeat
By Yinka Adegoke, New York | March 04, 2013 2:15 PM EST
It's a given that a healthy new music business will look very different from the old one. Not just in the transformation from physical to digital or from a sales model to a consumption model, but also the rise of new markets outside U.S. borders that have developed as the music biz retrenched and focused on its problems at home.
One sleeping giant very much on the rise is Nigeria, where I recently spoke at a music business-themed day during Social Media Week Lagos.
Already Africa's biggest consumer market with a population of some 160 million, Nigeria has produced world stars like Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade.
But after nearly three lost decades of national economic mismanagement and political upheaval, the formal music business crumbled and majors exited the market.
As the country has put its troubled years behind it, there has been a pop-culture renaissance. Dynamic entrepreneurs have built up local labels without international distribution and taken advantage of platforms like YouTube, Spotify and iTunes to break new stars. Two of the most notable are D'Banj (whose single "Oliver Twist" sold 200,000 copies last May in the United Kingdom to break the Official Charts Co. top 10) and Wiz Kid, who sold out New York's Irving Plaza. As Lyor Cohen put it when I spoke with him a few weeks ago: "Nigerian creativity, especially music, will do more for its influence in the region and the rest of the world than its oil."