Why we’re discussing the importance of data, and mobile technology to creators and consumers; and what it means for the future of entertainment

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When I started my career managing and promoting artistes in 1996, the industry was very crude. It was the time of Daddy Showkey and Baby Fryo and Fada U-Turn, the age of Dele Taiwo and SSP and co.

There was only one private radio station, and just a few private TV Stations. DSTV was for an exclusive few, with no Nigerian channels.

It was at a time when most TV channels resumed at 4 PM and closed by midnight. Of course, there was no social media; no Youtube or Soundcloud or iTunes. Heck, there was no iPhone, not to talk of App stores! Samsung had not yet made a smartphone. Netflix? Come on!

We didn’t have mobile phones.

Growing up in Okokomaiko, I had befriended a young man who helped his aunt sell petty stuff in a kiosk around Pako Bus Stop. That young man would go out every night, crawling night clubs around Ikeja and Apapa, hoping to get the DJs to play his music or, if luck were to smile on him, give him a chance to perform a quick track. His name was Father U-Turn. And he was not alone.

The standard practice at the time, if you wanted to score a hit, was to hustle all the night clubs. Everyone who became big did it. As the reggae/ragga guys were combing the clubs, their Fuji and Juju counterparts were hustling around Opebi/ Allen to Stadium and Ojuelegba. You had no voice if you didn’t have a platform. And that platform was either a performing spot or a night club. OGBC 2 and Ray Power were added blessings, and I don’t think they get enough credit for the role they played in introducing Nigerians to our own music. There’s no one that became someone in the late nineties that didn’t owe their success to some OAPs and presenters at OGBC or Ray Power ( and later Star FM).

You had to do the leg work. I would leave Okoko and head to Alagbado, the home of Ray Power, hoping to catch Steve Kadiri or baba Kura Abba Jato. Of course, we soon resorted to camping outside the gates of AIT/RayPower, just to see who was coming in or going out so we could make our pitch. It was the same at MBI where Emma Ugolee and Joke Jaiyesimi held it down. The same, when Silverbird and Rhythm opened in what was then ‘faraway Lekki’.

To become widely known, to get airplay, an interview, or anything at all. You had to get off your ass and go everywhere. And if you were not getting played by Steve Kadiri, Dennis ‘The Menace’ Ogi, Emma Ugolee, Dorcas Awuru, Baba Kura, Keke and D-one, Shy Shy Shyllon, JAJ, Kwame, and others, then your music wasn’t going anywhere.

To make money? You’re either on the road with Benson & Hedges, performing in universities, at night clubs, headlining for a DTD Sunday beach gig, or the likes of Lekki Sunsplash and Star Trek. There were no endorsement deals, and in fact, music and film were not favoured by multinationals for consumer marketing.

I ran into one of the major agency CEOs in 1998 at the lobby of Daily Times in Lagos, having tried unsuccessfully to get an appointment to see him for months. When I made my pitch: seeking a Pepsi sponsorship for our forthcoming Youths Award for Excellence in Music (YAFEM), he looked me in the face, patted me in the back, and said ‘Young man if you were doing a sports event maybe I’d have been able to help you. But we don’t currently do anything with music.’. That’s over 20 years ago. Today, Pepsi’s romance with sports stars continues, but as you’re aware, it’s no longer exclusive – here and abroad, the brand, like many others are in bed with major music stars, and the mutual benefits are clear.

The coming of more private and TV stations and the local content law ensured that local entertainment got more airtime. The success of AIT Jamz, with The Remedies, riding on the back of Keke and D-One, and the emergence of The Plantashun Boiz made local pop music cool again, and everyone tuned in. Some of the OGBC and Ray Power guys moved to other stations (especially Star FM and Rhythm) and took the culture with them. Of course, there was Pintos on Allen and Motherlan’ on Opebi.

Home videos continued to struggle commercially, while the TV soap operas continued to penetrate households. There were no cinemas or big production studios, and most of what Nollywood made was for home entertainment. The Ejiro Brothers, The Amata Brothers, Opa Williams, and Kingsley Ugoro, were some of the men ruling the scene with home entertainment while Lola Fani-Kayode, Amaka Igwe, James Iroha, Tunji Bamishigbin, Wale Adenuga and others dominated television.

Did we make the best of the music boom of the 90s? Did we make the best of all the fantastic TV series and home videos of the 90s and early 2000s? Did the artistes, the creators, producers, financiers, and even consumers get the best of value possible? Even the organisations…?

I don’t think so. Apart from those who relocated to seek better opportunities abroad, I can’t point to many practitioners from that era who became or remain truly successful as a result of their work. And most of the organisations are either dead or out or relevance. The works? That’s story for another day.

But this is 2019. And we’re witnessing another boom. This time, the barriers have been pulled down. You can be in Lokoja and become a national hit by way of Instagram. You can become a leading actor by selling yourself on Youtube or Facebook. Radio or TV no longer break the big stars; social media does. The fans now hold the power, and everyone is noticing.

How about monetisation? The streams are now so multiple that it is difficult for any one label or company to dictate the tunes. With the internet, telecommunications, app stores, streaming services, and VoD platforms, came an opportunity for creators to take control in ways hitherto impossible.

But, what does this mean for consumers? As we chase contents we love on platforms where they’re domiciled, what’s happening to all the data being collected?

And what does it mean for the creators and performers? Are they now getting paid in full? Or do they still hold the short end of the stick when they give out their content for free on social media platforms with the hope of getting corporate patronage? Even when they get paid by streaming and VoD platforms, are they being fairly compensated? Who in fact, gets paid? Who should? Will today’s entertainers end up becoming super rich and comfortable or will they end up like many of those before them? What do they need to know, to avoid obvious pitfalls?

Who will talk about the platform owners and business organisations? Are they actually profitable? Is the business model working? The entire industry now rests, from a revenue perspective, on Corporate sponsorships, Streaming services, VoD, Touring, Cinema, and performance fees. Nigeria has only about 150 cinema screens, not a single concert venue, a rapidly depleting VAS sub-industry, and just a few production studios (if we can call them that).

There’s an opportunity to build something that can truly transform the industry. And that’s what technology provides. From comedy to music, film, fashion, and media, how can we make sure that we build a future where our products are available to consumers where, when and how they want them? How can we make sure that experiences can be customised and personal? How can we create a system where the big funds are pouring into the creative sector because it’s been demonstrated that the industry means business?

What roles do the big Telcos have to play? How do the banks come in? And what does ‘Yaba valley’ have to show us?

It’s time to build the future, And you’re all invited.

Why I won’t be leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories. Or will I?

I am a Facebook fan. I love the platform and the thinking behind their business model. I understand the vision of the founders and believe companies like Facebook are a very important part of today’s and tomorrow’s world – in whatever way you look at it.
The world will continue to get interconnected, as we all work together to solve local and global problems, and build better lives for ourselves and the next generation.

Because Facebook has implications for our organisation, BHM, I have taken the pain to understand how the company works. I studied Google for years, even attending an FT meeting with Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in London in 2014. Then I faced Facebook and became a self-taught expert. When the opportunity came to attend F8, Facebook’s developers conference this year, I grabbed it with both hands, even though it was days away from our own conference NEClive.

I left San Francisco convinced that Facebook could be a gift and a curse to the media, tech and advertising industry. The telcos see Mark Zuckerberg and his company as a frenemy, the media see them as enablers and enslavers, I don’t know if the ad industry sees them the way they see Google yet.

Ayeni-Adekunle-and-Facebook-Engineering-Manager-Brian-Dewey

With Facebook Engineering Manager, Brian Dewey

We’re at the cusp of something important and it is difficult for anyone to actually accurately predict what the next few years will look like. We are all at best, speculating based on what we can see from where we stand. What is certain is that there will be major losers and gainers, short term and long term. When it finally happens, we would have inadvertently created a new era where the words media, technology, advertising, public relations and computer science would mean something entirely different from what most people understand them to be today.

Facebook likely has a better idea of what’s coming, as one can tell from their recent acquisitions, priorities, products and partnerships. I loved the thinking behind snatching Oculus and Whatsapp and Instagram. I’m excited by the power of 360 videos and VR. I supported Instant Articles from day one, even though I understand the concerns of those who vehemently criticize it. There’s a lot more that Facebook is working on, most of them commendable; most of them stuff that governments and the leaders of the respective industries should have been, ideally, driving.

But what I saw yesterday after tempting my Snapchat friends with photos of my six-course dinner in Milan, left a bad taste in my mouth. I had heard earlier in the day that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook was to launch something called Instagram Stories. Smart move, I thought. Reminded me of how Instagram videos came at the point everyone was on Keek’s dick. But when I left Snapchat to catch up with IG, I was shocked to find a copycat of Snapchat right in my face: if you’re a Snapchat user, you know what tapping your camera screen twice does: it switches the camera from front to back. You know what the eye sign says: suggesting who has viewed your snap. You know how to edit your photos and input text in many colours. These basic Snapchat features were what Facebook introduced yesterday on Instagram. I don’t know if there’s a term for it in Silicon Valley. But in the media, it’s called plagiarism. It’s an illegality. A shame. It’s low and dirty and petty and unpardonable.

Google was late to the social media party and is paying dearly for it. We’ve seen what happened to Nokia and Blackberry and Yahoo and others who didn’t see the future early. So I understand Facebook’s determination not to be caught napping. I also understand they may not have broken any laws, but what’s bad is bad, no matter how much filter you use to beautify it.
Facebook has been eyeing what Google had with YouTube for years, and I recall the criticism that trailed their free-for-all approach to videos from 2014. Looking away as copyright infringements thrived on their platform, they just wanted people to post videos natively on Facebook, no matter whose. They even tweaked the algorithm to prioritize native video content over links. They tweaked the algorithm to show us more video in newsfeed. Facebook wanted a seat at the video table. They now have it.

For many years, Facebook became, for many people, the social media app where your father and grand uncle liked your photos and made snide comments on your tattoos. So millennials jumped out in droves and began cavorting with cooler platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat and even Twitter. To win the kids back, Facebook has had to do a lot of things, including Facebook Live – a product designed, in my opinion, to battle Twitter for relevance in live news, and battle Snapchat in live video.

Instagram’s Stories, launched yesterday, is the recent episode, in this battle for users’ photos, videos, time and data, and it would have been popcorn-deserving, if it were not scary. It would have been entertaining if it were not unfunny.

I’ve been told moves like this are not new in the tech industry. My response: it doesn’t make it right, especially for a company owned and run by someone with Zuckerberg’s vision.

Facebook has used new ideas, good thinking and technology to connect over 1.7 billion people in 12 years. I see a future where Facebook.com will be the home page of the internet, winning in media and tech and advertising. It’s bound to happen, whether we like it or not.

Facebook has done, and will have to do a lot to make sure this possibility is not truncated. Bullying every small Organisation to hand over their businesses or get run over is definitely not one of them.

Sadly, for now, Snapchat will have to reinvent itself or die a fast, painful death.

I’ve been invited to deliver a keynote at Pa Benson Idonije’s 80th

Our agency BlackHouse Media is supporting the Benson Idonije at 80 celebrations. And I have been invited by the chief organizer Jahman Anikulapo to deliver a closing keynote on ‘Music forward: Deconstructing and reconstructing’.

I’ve read Pa Idonije for years, and even though I’ve had cause to disagree with him on occasions, concerning his views on contemporary pop music, I do have very high respect for him. His daughter is a friend of sorts, and of course, you’ll recall we gave him a NET Honours in 2015.

Three of his books will be presented, and the ceremony will provide an opportunity for his era and this era to engage in meaningful conversations about yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Pa Idonije's 80th

Idonije is Fela Kuti’s first manager and adviser, a respected radio producer and presenter, columnist for The Guardian, and grand father of Pop act Burna Boy.

I do hope you’re able to attend.

 

I’m speaking at Chris Ihidero’s Story Story next week

I’m speaking, for the second year running, at Chris Ihidero’s Story Story. It’s a closed event for registered participants only, but I will try to record my presentation and share.

I’m passionate about story telling, and determined to work with those working to build capacity and platforms.

I do hope I have as much fun as last year!

atg

How 12 Million People in 12 Countries Discussed How Entertainment Can Save Nigeria’s Economy in 12 Hours

On April 20, 2016, Nigerians came together for the fourth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive 4) to discuss how entertainment can rebuild Nigeria’s wavering economy.

#NECLive4 featured an interesting line-up of professionals not only from the entertainment industry but from all works of life to serve as panelists and moderators who gave insights from the business and creative sides of the entertainment world and how the industry can revamp the economy of Africa’s most populous country.

The 4th edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference, which held at Victoria Island, Lagos was expected to attract about 2,500 Nigerians from different parts of the country.

Between April 19 and April 22, 2016, #NEClive4 drew in over 12,000,000 people online.

Themed Entertainment As Last Hope For Africa’s Largest Economy, the recently concluded #NEClive4 event attracted 2,749 people on site on April 20.

Some of the panelists and moderators that graced the event include CEO 141 Worldwide, Olubunmi Oke, Founder Spot Studio, Sebastian Paszek, Nigerian conceptual designer, Kayode Olowu, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Tony Ojobo, Tiwa Savage, TY Bello, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Kaffy Shafau Ameh, amongst others.

Ayeni Adekunle, founder of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference delivered a welcome address Entertainment as Last Hope for Africa’s Largest Economy.

D’Banj, Banky W and Funke Akindele who were speakers at the event gave intellectual presentations titled Content as the New Crudethe Power of Music & Comedy, and the Economy of Talents respectively.

CEO Braincraft, Olatunde Falase provided an in-depth analysis of Emerging Global Business & Disruptive Models while Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe discussed Case Studies of Intervention Strategies.

In 48 hours, #NEClive4, which was a top trending topic on Twitter, gathered over 62 million impressions on Twitter and Instagram from 1,000 users across Nigeria.

Some of the brands, platforms and individuals who contributed to the #NEClive4 conversation include MTN, The Guardian, Bella Naija, The Cable, This Day, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe, Wofai Ifada amongst others.

Nigeria wasn’t the only country interested in NECLive 4. 11 other countries including Ghana, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Canada, Britain, Iran, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland, and U.S.A joined the conference via television and livestream on social media.

The infographic below summarizes NECLive 4 in numbers.

Download the full report here.