Georgetown University held its first Africa Business Conference this month, where students, professionals and businesspeople came to discuss and exchange ideas about the growth of the private sector across the African continent.
The music industry on the continent continues to experience rapid growth while its consumers are hungry for more. Despite the challenges of physical and digital piracy, the Nigerian music industry, for example, produces 550 albums a year. And by the end of 2016, stakeholders project the industry could reach $1 billion.
Abiola Oke, CEO of Okayafrica, sat down as moderator with British-Ghanaian ‘Afrobeats’ star Fuse ODG and his manager and co-founder of ODG Records, Andre Hackett, to discuss the future of the industry. When asked how artists can turn their millions of YouTube views and Spotify streams into tangible revenue and other lucrative opportunities, the T.I.N.A. [“This Is New Africa”] duo both agreed that artists who have the privilege to do so outside of the continent have a duty to return and share the knowledge.
“My mission is to invest in Africa with the knowledge that I’ve gained musically,” Fuse ODG said. “I’ve already been in touch with musicians and talking to them about how we can change the music system in Ghana and the music system in Nigeria so we can benefit the artist.”
He also noted how much respect he has for the artists who continue to make music purely for the love of music.
“But they deserve to be in a great position where they’ll be comfortable enough to keep making good music,” he added. “I think it’s a process that starts with us.”
Hackett shared with attendees that during their last trip to Ghana, the time spent with up and coming artists and managers was time well spent.
“Once you’re there, we learn from them and they learn from us in terms of marketing and building things out,” Hackett said. “We ended up distributing a lot of the artists’ music for them. Just by that, we actually helped them to make money.”
Efforts such as Akon bringing Nigerian superstars 2face Idibia, Wizkid and P-Squareto Konvict Music and Jay Z moving his cousin to Nigeria in search of new talent last year show that Fuse ODG and Hackett may be onto something.