In recent years, the Nigerian economy has struggled to uphold its title as Africa’s largest economy, in face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and gasoline prices. As a consequence of slow economic growth and surging inflation, Nigerian citizens must grapple with dwindling employment opportunities; in 2021 alone, poverty has increased by nearly 10% due to pandemic-induced price shocks. However, a type of music called Afrobeats is helping reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
A Surprising Source of Income
Amid the dire employment scene, Nigerian youth have found Afrobeats a surprising source of income. Afrobeat is a combination of West African and Black American music that the Nigerian artist Fela Kuti created. This musical genre, which places political lyrics at its forefront, has recently become a sensation among artists worldwide.
Due to social media outlets, live concerts, endorsements and live streaming platforms, young Nigerians have received satisfactory and sustainable payment by partaking in the Afrobeat economy. Here are three enablers for Afrobeats’ contribution to reducing unemployment in Nigeria.
Collaboration with Record Labels
The collaboration between large record labels and Afrobeats artists has contributed greatly to providing the artists with a sustainable and wide audience base.
Mavin Record Label, which Nigerian music producer Michael Collins Ajereh founded, is one of such contributors to popularizing Afrobeats domestically, The Guardian reported. As the largest record label in Nigeria, Mavin Record Label has already propelled more than 30 artists towards stardom. Singers such as Ayra Starr, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Reekado Banks and Koredo Bello all achieved fame due to the label’s promotion.
In addition to Mavin Record Label, Chocolate City, YBNL, Starboy Entertainment, Marlian Music and Zanku Record Label also played important roles in increasing popular interest in Afrobeats artists and in doing so, providing them with a sustainable source of income, said The Guardian.
The majority of concerts are large-scale and include only one performer. However, Afrobeats artists and fans have often opted for smaller-venue shows with a medley of artists.
The benefits of such changes are manifold. For one thing, this added flexibility gives many smaller artists the opportunity to reach an audience and showcase their talent, enlarging their fanbase. Rather than the cost of independently renting out a venue impeding artists, they can collaborate to reduce expenditures. Further, there is a greater likelihood that artists could attract new listeners, as it is highly possible that concertgoers who purchase their ticket to watch one artist might leave interested in multiple other performers.
The employment opportunities that the popularization of Afrobeats has created are not limited to performers, stated The Guardian. Increased demand for those who work behind the scenes also provided many Nigerian youths with a new source of income.
Concert tickets and music streams are not the only two sources of income for Afrobeats artists. Due to the genre’s surging popularity, many firms have recognized the purchasing power of fan bases and have sought to exploit this consumer group by offering musicians ambassadorial deals, according to The Guardian.
Such endorsement contracts not only directly increase the salary of the artists, but also increase their net worth. As such, the artists enter a positive feedback loop, where one ambassadorial deal increases their likelihood to receive deals in the future.
Although unemployment continues to pose a grave problem in Nigeria, the Afrobeats industry has been an unexpected generator of job opportunities. As Nigerian youth continues to embrace each emerging opportunity, the country edges closer to poverty reduction.
– Emily Xin