As Afrobeats goes global, how can it be sustainably developed?

Following the advancements of Afrobeats which was majorly inspired by the pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti in the late 1960’s has slowly made a name for itself in a somewhat incalculable list of recognitions it has received so far with its roots coming from Nigeria.

Nigerians, creative as ever, who are constantly surviving the odds of the nation’s economy, have been firm believers in showcasing the parts of the country’s talents through the use of social media and for artists, constantly putting out more projects all with a plan to hit the international markets. With several success stories and refinement in the music industry, the dreams of an average Nigerian artist has become a reality. 

Don Jazzy, P Squarem Wande Coal, D’banj, Kenny Ogungbe, Sound Sultan

However, these dreams to hit the international markets and collaborate with other great minds have slowly become worrisome as we have the industry focusing more on the gratification that comes from foreign accolades than ours. Some may say that the sudden interest in expanding across the shores of Africa is as a result of the declining appreciation of these artists’ masterpieces.

This reason may have some elements of truth in it but the fact remains that the admiration for foreign accolades started slowly and can date back to 2016 with Wizkid – Come Closer ft. Drake This feature with a multi award winning artist such as Drake led to comparisons which have always been there between the Wizkid FC and 30 Billion gang; all supporters of Wizkid and Davido

This isn’t to say that before this international collaboration, there hadn’t been any feature of this sort because we can vividly remember the era of Psquare’s Beautiful Onyinye ft. Rick Ross. But with the connectedness of social media, it created another kind of relationship that birthed more features such as Omah Lay & Justin Bieber – Attention, Rema & Selena Gomez – Calm Down, Oxlade & Camila Cabello – KU LO SA Remix, Chris Brown ft Wizkid- Call Me Every Day and in recent times we have seen iconic collaborations such as Ayra Starr ft Kelly Rowland – Bloody Samaritan remix  and Rihanna ft Tems – Lift Me Up (From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)

The list once more is incalculable. Not just features leads to gratification but AWARDS. We have heard countless Nigerian artistes dreaming of performing at the O2 Arena, Madison Square Garden and other bigger stadiums. To what some may consider as leveraging our talents which undeniably has helped immensely, there is still a competition as to who gets to sell out a stadium quicker, whose single/album is on the Billboard Charts, who is nominated for a BET award and the most valuable, The Grammys.

This competition can be seen as healthy as it inspires artists and their management to put in more work or unhealthy when they classify themselves as superior to others which can be heavily influenced by fans but with all these international growth, accolades and debates on the future of Afrobeats, we need to recognize the elephant in the room “How can we turn these accolades to sustainable development for us as a nation ?”

As a country who is now stamped in the world’s music map, if there is any, it needs to invest more in reputation management. For an artist, this may have been sorted by their management but artists, music journalists, lawyers, critics, lovers and the government need to protect this genre of music.

Other genres of music originated from Nigeria should stand their grounds to ensure that other creatives in the music industry recognize our music as ours, just as the Americans who have several documentaries on the discovery and evolution of Hip Hop like Origins of Hip Hop, more storytelling (documentaries) will help to protect our craft. Two good examples in our context are Ayo Shonaiaya and Obi Asika’s documentaries on Netflix and Showmax respectively.

As much as we acknowledge reputation management as a key factor, there’s a need for music festivals which should be organized by unbiased governmental bodies, a festival with a solid plan for revenue generation, diligent security and well carved out marketing strategies should be highly invested in. Hosting events like Afrochella in Ghana, investing into Felabration (an annual music festival in honor of the pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti) builds more passion for a craft we worked hard for to reach the heights it’s at today. This will lead to unity by making more artists participate not only for their private concerts. 


AWARDS cannot be overemphasized enough when it comes to entertainment. The commitment to curb partisanship and create more categories that awards management of these artists who work tirelessly should be encouraged, and this can only be achievable when deliberate research is made into the new and existing professions and professionals that turn a beat into a charting hit. 

Creating avenues to educate enthusiasts who are passionate about the industry. Reviewing talent shows who showcase creatives yet judge them by their abilities to capture the right tone of songs sourced from across the shores of Nigeria and even Africa. Seminars/Submits to refresh the minds of others. Programs to teach new uprising talents. So far, we have Music Business Africa who commit themselves yearly to educate fresh minds on different critical aspects of the music business. The Turntable Charts also provides an aggregated standard music chart in Nigeria.

In a nutshell, looking at the future of Afrobeats solely on how to dominate the international music scene and acquire more platinums for your projects should be secondary. We need to look inward and make an intentional shift from gratification to building a sustainable development for our music keeping in mind that as the clock ticks every second, there is a new talent who is waiting to be discovered.

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