The Talk about Afrobeats Shows and Afrobeats Artists’ Performances is Getting Realer
Afrobeats is a party, right? But what happens when the life of the party starts acting like a bit of a party pooper?
●9th November 2023
Afrobeats used to be just our special, homegrown, beautifully rhythmic music that we loved. But now it’s rapidly growing way beyond Africa, becoming a universal groove, attracting diverse audiences that we now have to share it with. And we’re happy for it, we’re happy for the artists doing the serious work aiding its exportation — “Afrobeats to the World.” However, this also means that the talk about Afrobeats shows and the performances of Afrobeats artists is getting realer.
The Afrobeats music scene has been riding high on a wave of global acclaim. From Afrobeats artists being featured on bigger global stages, catering to even larger audiences to their appearances on global charts and records previously monopolised by foreign music acts, the genre has unequivocally soared. Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido and Asake have all sold out the O2.Rema just became the first African artist to perform at the Ballon d’Or. Streetpop act, Seyi Vibez, sold out his first headline concert at the O2 Indigo Hall in the UK. Few days after it was released, Olamide’s Unruly became the highest charting album ever by an African Rapper on Apple Music US chart.
With more people listening, there’s broader scrutiny. Recently, there’s been a series of concert cancellations that have introduced questions about the genre’s sustainability. Tiwa Savage, Kizz Daniel, Adekunle Gold – they’ve all cancelled their UK gigs. Burna Boy’s live concert at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, was cancelled days before the event. Just when we were gearing up for the first Afro Nation concert in Lagos, Nigeria, it vanished from the December plans. The “largest Afrobeats festival” couldn’t find its place in the heartland of the genre.
Just a few weeks ago, Victor Okpala, Spotify’s Manager for Artist Partnership for West Africa, gave a TEDx talk at the University of Leeds.
He called for urgent attention to growing the local music ecosystem, revealing a paradox in the current international interest in Afrobeats. His address brought to light a fundamental challenge – the disparity between Afrobeats’ global appeal and the inadequate infrastructure supporting it locally. Okpala affirmed that there’s a lack of infrastructure to bring live music experiences to all states, unlike the way Afrobeats is packaged and sold in foreign markets. Just like Okpala, Ayo Shonaiya, seasoned talent manager and lawyer, agrees that we need a game plan. Afrobeats needs strategic moves to dodge a decline.
This is what @iamDo2dtun was just saying. This is why Afrobeats needs a solid succession plan to survive past another 10yrs or else it would become just a fad. The responsibility to sustain the success of Afrobeats globally is not down to the artistes, they are in it for…
According to him, it’s not just about the beats; it’s about smart moves in the business.
Putting on a show is easier in places with good systems — systems that are built for the demands that come with concerts of certain scales. Writer, Jide Taiwo, stated in a piece, “…the success of Afrobeats has seduced Nigerians into imagining that our industry and society is sophisticated. We’re not there yet. Our music success has happened ‘despite’ the impoverished society we live in, not because of it. We can have individual successes, but until those things are a permanent fabric of our society, we’ll only enjoy superficial success.”
The problem is about more than just venues and facilities. Upfront International’s CEO, Paul Okoye, weighed in on social media, highlighting the global decline in concerts and how Nigerian artists now command hefty fees even on home turf.
High costs are keeping Nigerian fans from fully enjoying the music culture of Afrobeats, which is now tailored for Western audiences, making the experience less accessible at home.
Apart from the fact that Nigeria is currently undergoing a serious economic downturn and not many fans may be able to shell out money for costly tickets, Afrobeats is a party, right? But what happens when the life of the party starts acting like a bit of a party pooper? Some artists have refused to drop the bad habit of bringing their very unprofessional attitudes to the stage. If I’m going to pay really crazy prices, I expect a tremendously good time. Am I sure I’ll get one? Due to past and recurring events, I don’t think so.
Last year, Ghanaian artist, Akuvi took to TikTok to lament the poor performance of some Afrobeats artists at Afro Nation Ghana 2022. I can’t imagine what they would have done to us this year if Afro Nation Nigeria had gone as scheduled. A little professionalism, a dash of respect, and voilà, we’re on our way to preparing smoother Afrobeats concerts in Nigeria that fans may be willing to pay heavily for.
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