MTN Launches MusicTime,  Promotes African Music Industry

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It is an honour for MTN Nigeria to share in the passion for music through the MusicTime! platform. Over the years, the brand has left indelible footprints in the African music industry through its sponsorship of the 6th AFRIMA, the recent launch of MusicTime!, a fascinating music streaming service which allows users to have the best listening experience of local and international music, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu

African music has always been appealing to western observers and investors. During the ‘70s and ‘80s, Fela Kuti was a good export of Nigerian music. Two decades later, Wizkid’s hit track Ojuelegba gained international recognition and even got featured on Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty runway show.  A video of popular American artiste, Alicia Keys, dancing to Ojuelegba also went viral, while Drake could not help but sing sweet praises. So many other Nigerian music acts have had similar experience.

Recently, Burna Boy topped off his stellar music year with a Grammy nomination, alongside musical heavyweight Angelique Kidjo. This recognition is growing evidence that Nigerian music continues to gain mileage on the global map, especially through international collaborations that have further contributed to the acclaim the industry is attracting. Following the journey, it is evident that music is a widely infectious phenomenon with the power to move nations. The power of music greatly supersedes language barriers or cultural differences.

Nigeria’s music industry has made significant strides over the last two decades and is arguably the most vibrant music sector in Africa. The vibrancy of the industry has also had a sizable economic impact. According to PwC’s 9th annual edition of the Global Entertainment and Media Outlook (2018 – 2022),  Nigeria is expected to continue leading Africa’s music and entertainment industry by 2022 with a projected 21.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with revenue reaching $9.9 billion.

A large chunk of the figure comes from digital consumption. The advent of digital platforms for music consumption has significantly boosted the industry and paved the way for more indigenous artistes. The supply chain has also undergone a major shift and the delivery channels have now expanded to include digital downloads on-demand streaming and digital radio. While this evolution is commendable, improving on music consumption requires more effort by service providers.

This saw MTN Nigeria as the first to respond in this regard. In recognition of the value gap, the company launched its first digital music service, Music+ in 2014. The platform provided the necessary impetus for streaming opportunities and availed subscribers with easy access to millions of songs from popular African artistes featured on the platform.

Through this, the telecoms giant was able to deploy music to deliver value-added services to its subscribers. Successfully, this milestone, along with other platforms like the Caller Ring Back Tunez (CRBT), contributed greatly to MTN’s recognition as the largest music distributor in Africa.  Focus remains on MTN Nigeria as an example of how telecoms providers can contribute immensely to the growth and development of the music industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Over the years, MTN has been deliberate in expressing its deep-rooted passion for the Nigerian music industry through visible trails of multiple investments in infrastructure and products, capacity building and industry collaborations. The brand has effectively leveraged technology and digitalisation to support players in the industry, whilst meeting the digital needs to attain groundbreaking goals. Hence, the recent launch of MusicTime!, a fascinating music streaming service, which allows users to have the best listening experience of local and international music.

Confirming this, General Manager, Brands and Communication MTN Nigeria, Richard Iweanoge said, “we have closely observed the consumption pattern of our esteemed customers, especially the youths and it is no surprise that digitalisation has increased the rate at which they record, share and consume music.  It is an honour for MTN Nigeria to share in the passion for music through the MusicTime! platform.”

With MusicTime! the brand eliminated subscription cost, allowing consumers stream music even without an active plan because what they pay for is the actual time spent listening to music on the platform. MusicTime! also complements the government’s efforts in the actualisation of local content drive by providing a channel for local artistes to stream to a global audience.

African Music to the World

In its steady commitment and investment towards the music industry, MTN Nigeria engaged in a long-term partnership with the Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) in 2006, through its MTN Foundation-sponsored Music Scholars Programme. Since inception, the programme has successfully trained hundreds of young Nigerians in music.

Additionally, the Foundation introduced a capacity-building programme titled “Business of the Art Series” to train young music scholars intensively in the art of monetising their talent. MTN Nigeria provides this platform to expose them to major industry players who share life experiences and expose them to the business of music. The overarching aim is to create a pool of talents that are not only skillful musically, but also understands the business of music.

Beyond capacity building for budding musicians, the company has also shown its support by sponsoring various events and concerts. It recently sponsored the sixth edition of All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) themed ‘Feel Africa’, among many other concerts. Commenting on the partnership, Iweanoge said, “The guiding philosophy in all our interventions is collaboration. We believe that we are always good together and no one attains significant success alone. It is one of the reasons we identified with AFRIMA.”

As part of activities preceding the grand finale of AFRIMA, the African Music Business Summit (AMBS), was held to facilitate networking among music executives, government officials and other stakeholders in the media and the financial sectors of Africa. Tagged ‘Music Business in Africa: Connecting Borderless Talents,’ stakeholders shared views and experiences on African music and digital influence. The event had a major takeout – Music is a serious business. This validates the efforts of MTN Nigeria in providing the necessary infrastructure and platforms to facilitate a deep understanding of the music industry for upcoming acts.

This strategic move will see a smooth transition from embracing music as an art to running the ‘art’ as a very serious business with formidable structure and processes in place. Corroborating this assertion, Nigerian media personality and associate co-producer, AFRIMA, Olisa Adibua, stated that, “Upcoming music artistes keep making the mistake of looking for help; it is not about help. Your art should be treated as a business. It’s important to be realistic. If you have a good product, you don’t have to beg; your product has to be marketable. If it is, investors will woo you.” To buttress his point, Adibua analysed Burna Boy’s success saying, “Burna wasn’t lucky. He worked hard to get to where he is currently. He had a dedicated team who were consistent. There was structure and planning, we all ought to be deliberate about what we want to achieve in the next ten years and work towards that.”

Undoubtedly, the discourse at AFRIMA will have a considerable impact on the business of music in Nigeria and Africa at large. Commenting on the success of AMBS, Iweanoge expressed his joy saying, “See what we have accomplished together with AFRIMA. It’s a testament to what can be done with collaboration. At MTN, we will continue to collaborate and provide the right channels and ecosystems that will help Nigerians create, play and share their boundless creativity with the rest of the world without limitations or barriers.”

 

On bridging these barriers that could mar the prospect of boundless creativity and ecosystems, MTN Nigeria has also created an engagement channel with its subscribers through its youth proposition, MTN Pulse.   The brand launched a brilliant scheme, Pulse House Invasion; enabling customers meet with their favourite artistes.

 

The Pulse House Invasion is an initiative that brings celebrated Nigerian artistes to the home of a lucky MTN subscriber for a surprise house party, with friends and family, while other subscribers can live stream the experience via the brand’s Instagram platform. This year saw two successful instalments of Pulse House Invasion in Lagos and Owerri, with artistes like Falz, Teni the entertainer, Zoro and DJ Spinall as headliners.

 

The brilliance of this initiative is hinged on music as the connecting bridge between the Nigerian artiste and the everyday consumer, enabling conversations, and relationships that would ordinarily have remained a dream.

 

In outlining MTN Nigeria’s core relationship with music, we are gradually arriving at the conclusion that it may just be the greatest love of all times. We have likened the affection to that of a devout lover whose desire is to see her partner skyrocket through the stars and reflect across the globe for the world to gaze, clap and admire whilst the devout lover consistently stays by his side, ever loyal and supportive.

 

Lately, sources have revealed that MTN Nigeria will be launching a massive project for the Nigerian music industry in the New Year. This move will come as no surprise given MTN’s future-driven trajectory about music.