The Demise Of Competitive Music In Nigeria

My Sunday evenings are booked. At least for the next few weeks.

NBC’s The Voice UK 2019 has made sure of that.

The highly-rated music franchise show kicked off a few weeks ago with veteran Judges Tom Jones, Olly, Jennifer Hudson and Will-I- Am, occupying the infamous swiveling The Voice Judges seat for another season of hashing out who deserves the highly-coveted title of The Voice 2019.

I soon discovered that The Voice South Africa and The Voice US are also airing too.

Bold.

The last time we heard about the Voice Nigeria was as far back as 2017. That’s even fair considering that the first and last time the X Factor Nigeria franchise ever aired was in 2013.

Remember Star Quest? The only Nigerian music competition show that kicked off with creating and focusing on music band auditions before later moving into the more general one-winner style format that everyone else was into?

Yeah, Star Quest’s last dying echo was heard in 2014. Although they later revved briefly when they introduced another music show, sponsored by the same brand called “The Winner Is”

As predicted, the new show died on arrival, flailing briefly before finally giving up.

Naija Sings, after only 3 seasons left the stage in 2011

Nigeria’s Got Talent also died a tuneless death in 2012

Nigerian idol ended 5 seasons later in 2015

While MTN Project Fame West Africa was laid to rest after an impressive 9 season run in 2016

Are you hearing the same discordant tune that I am hearing?

So with no Nigerian music competition show anywhere in the space, what implications does this omission have for budding Nigerian music artistes prepped to unveil their talents to the world?

THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITION

The music auditions for these renowned music competitions are always packed out, with people traversing across states for a chance to find fame and fortune. The venue of a typical, well-publicized music competition in Nigeria is packed out as early as six am. There are hordes of colourfully dressed music hopefuls on resilient human queues, trailing into the streets, all with the same insurmountable belief.

They are nearer their dreams than they were the day before.

The queues are unaffected by the erratic weather and not even by the security personnel that tries to maintain order; sometimes employing force.

A few music heads would try to break the tension by whipping out guitars and breaking into songs. Some others simply make friends with their fellow ‘queue-mates’, exchanging invaluable audition ideas in the process.

This is what they live for; the making of their dreams.

A couple of the people are ‘audition returnees’ having been at other such auditions in the past with the enviable factor of ‘knowing the ropes’. They are excited to share stories of their near misses and trade-in invaluable secrets, acting as slush judges in a bid to rate their fellow contestant’s likelihood to move past the first stage of the auditions.

Friendship’s that would last years are made at these auditions. Exchanged phone numbers became anchor points for finding connections.

Hope dies and is reborn at these music milestones.

And when after hours of braving the frontlines, only one is selected from the hundreds that gave their all; they hold no grudge but instead share the moment with the winner.

Something clicks inside of them at the end of every audition cycle; they know that a victory for one of their kind means a victory for all of them.

They must simply wait their turn.

A DYING SONG

So what happened to music competitions in Nigeria? Why are they making an impressive appearance only to sing a final tune and completely leave the stage?

Some have attributed this demise to the incredible logistics that accompany organizing one of these creative projects. The important question is, are the organizing brands not cashing out? What financial arrangement does the franchise require for the organizers to break even without abandoning the rhythm halfway?

With thousands of music audition registrations from all over the country and the millions of viewers that consume the shows on TV week after week, can the organizers not find a creative way to make money off this massive following?

It’s no secret that renowned brands like Star, MTN, GLO, Airtel etc have sponsored these music projects whenever they make an appearance and as we know, the interest of these brands is not in the financial gains but more about the captive audience that religiously follow these shows.

Are they suddenly withdrawing their investment into budding music talents because the numbers don’t add up? Or are the ratings slowly slipping?

It’s quite sad that no one thinks we deserve to know.

WE NEED THIS

I have told anyone who cares to listen that without a doubt, this is the opportune time to invest in music competitions in Nigeria. But they all seem to be wearing highly-priced ear-buds.

Since everyone has unwittingly abandoned the space, there has been a growing demand for this kind of content.

Need proof?

Multi-talented Nigerian musician Dbanj and a few forward-thinking friends kick-started a subscription-based digital music platform called CREAM in 2016 and just a year after its launch, the business is valued at a whopping hundred million dollars. (That’s about 35 billion naira!).

See what I mean?

Recently they have partnered with one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, Access Bank and are doing mad numbers, howbeit subtly.

So my point is, if no one is willing to face the music, we might as well spend our Sundays evenings watching NBC’s The Voice UK thousands of miles away in another continent.

Henri Yire
Henri Yire

By Henri Yire. Blogger, Conspiracy theorist and a 21st Century Fabulist. He believes that wars are fought, dynasties overthrown and Kingdoms created first by words. He tweets at @henriyire


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