Total music revenue in Nigeria will rise to US$73 million in 2021. According to PwC’s Entertainment and Media Outlook 2019 – 2023, streaming music revenue will reach $17.5 million in 2023. In the past, we said that Nigeria’s young population guarantees a significant number of tech-savvy music lovers who are always on the go and hungry for the next thing. We also mentioned that Nigeria has become a priority for many streaming services looking to take over the African market – Deezer, Boomplay, Spotify, Apple Music.
Today’s article is about Nigeria’s very own streaming platform and its recent step to improve music streaming in a unique, unprecedented way.
In January, we mentioned that uduX was launched by Groove Platforms in April 2019. It has since acquired requisite licenses from major record labels and claims to be “the first African-owned streaming platform to have all three global major record companies signed to its service”. uduX is hoping to succeed where predecessors (indigenous streaming companies like Iroking) have failed. But acquiring licenses is only the beginning of a tumultuous journey in the streaming business.
uduX has entered strategic partnerships to boost its competitiveness, with the likes of Boomplay, for instance. In December 2020, it struck a new partnership with MTN Nigeria to grant MTN subscribers access to discounted data bundles for accessing content and streaming unlimited music on the uduX app! However, its most recent partnership is its most interesting – and this forms the subject of our discussion.
In PiggyVest: overall best in savings!, we mentioned that PiggyVest launched as Piggybank.ng in January 2016 as a savings-only platform before expanding its offering to include low-risk investments. It calls itself the first online savings and investment app in West Africa, and says it is on a mission ‘to give everyone the power to better manage and grow their finances’. We also discussed PiggyVest’s partnerships – with Providus Bank and Wema Bank. When the company got its new name in 2019, it announced that it was pivoting from a savings platform to a “robust financial platform”. These days, it is taking even further steps.
In April 2021, a partnership between PiggyVest, and uduX birthed PopRev — a product that allows fans on the streaming platform to invest in artists and earn profit.
PopRev – how does it work?
Simply, PopRev will allow listeners to invest in an artist’s project and make profits based on the project’s digital streaming performance. This way, fans are more instrumental to the financial success of their favourite artists. On uduX, “investors” can obtain real-time insights into the streaming performance of the tracks they invest in, whether through the web or on the mobile app. They may also invite others to listen to the artist’s music, share on social media, and participate in the chance to win real-time experiences with these artists. Investors will then share in the equity that these projects generate.
PiggyVest and uduX are not alone. Other contributors include King Smade, CEO of SMADE Group and Co-founder of Afronation and YAM Carnival; MAD Solutions, a digital content distributor and music aggregator; Made in Africa, a music management solution and Pushing Good Music (PGM), a music curator community. PiggyVest serves as a financial partner for the project, while the others play roles ranging from bringing in talents to the platform and providing guidance on how to maximize and deploy their investments. PopRev is set to debut in mid-May, while the first call for investments is imminent.
Collaborators are offering a win-win situation – artists make more money to create while fans get the chance to play a part in a musician’s story. UduX’s CEO, Chidi Okeke, explained that the music industry has continuously failed to innovate, and this has nothing to do with a lack of technology. According to him, the problem with innovation in the space is the lack of incentives. Somto Ifezue, CEO of PiggyVest believes that PopRev will help shape a new business model of revenue generation and open up the market for more data-driven investment.
“Music-tech” and capital
However, technology is already breeding innovation in Nigeria’s music industry. “Music-tech” is used to capture the utilization of technology for the growth of the music industry. Also, there are emerging models for business generation. For instance, Nigerian music is already catching the venture capital bug.
In 2020, Mr Eazi (Oluwatosin Ajibade) set up the Africa Music Fund (AMF), targeted at investing in Africa’s music artists. At the time, he told CNN that the Fund was looking to raise USD 20 million. Through the AMF, Mr Eazi wants to create a new funding model for Africa’s music business. He noted that the business is generally misunderstood by investors and financial institutions. The result is a gap in funding for musicians – AMF is supposed to bridge this gap. At a Future Africa event in January 2021, Mr Eazi likened artists to startups and labels to VCs. He noted that many African artists are largely independent where creation is concerned and merely need financing for things like branding and marketing.
In December 2020, however, Mr Eazi tweeted about some experiment that would allow his fans to buy shares in his songs. They would own a percentage of equity so that streams could create revenue for them. This seems to be the very idea PopRev is now running with. Did Mr Eazi go on with this plan though? It doesn’t seem so. His latest EP, Something Else has been out since February 2021 and doesn’t have the aforementioned features. At least, not yet. PopRev is behind schedule too, as we are already in June.
This begs the question – how plausible are these ventures? Can we take PopRev seriously? Particularly, would Nigerian listeners invest in songs?
Will Nigerians pay for music?
In January, we also noted that it is difficult to tell the number of Nigerian listeners who pay for music. Streaming companies may disclose the number of active users but not the paying users. Subscribers are hard to come by in Nigeria due to poverty, expensive broadband, and a general reluctance to pay for online services. Free music is accessible, after all. Even artists put their songs online for free.
Streaming still faces a challenge with data. TechCabal put it this way, “As long as people keep counting their megabytes, driving the use of subscription-based apps will remain an uphill task.” Would people who cannot afford data go on to invest in streams? 40% of Nigerians still live on less than one dollar a month. Can the relative poverty in Nigeria be helped? The population has never been this poor. Nigerians are facing acute inflation. Perhaps buying food will rank higher than buying music in their scale of want? Like Netflix, would PopRev depend on the few, privileged Nigerians?
There’s only one way to find out. The product will be open to the public soon.