For the first six months of last year alone, South African telecoms conglomerate MTN Group successfully tapped into the fast growing music consumption among its customers and generated a reported $70m from its streaming-music service.

That is a significant amount of money for the region, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, which has received scant attention from the international music sector because of the piracy that has plagued the continent for decades.

However, as demonstrated in the exclusive Midem White Paper called Africa: The Next Global Music Opportunity, a new generation of artists, entrepreneurs and rights owners has emerged to do business in an international entertainment sector hungry for a variety of music genres and creativity.

Africa is not only a source of rich original sounds (which has always been the case), but it is also gradually building an infrastructure for those tunes to be protected and distributed legally worldwide.

This development is being helped by the escalating use of connected smartphones and social media among a digitally savvy population with an increasing middle-class element.

Via the Internet and digital media, local artists are reaching fans directly in the domestic countries, other African markets, and the global African diaspora as well as followers in new international territories.

The White Paper includes official figures:

  • predicting population growth in a region that boasts the world’s highest (and increasingly digitally savvy) youth population;
  • indicating current Internet penetration and forecasting mobile Internet reach;
  • showing the progress of broadband usage;
  • assessing the reach of social media and digital TV.

These platforms offer more reliable and quantifiable systems for measuring a recording’s success compared to the physical vinyl and CD discs that have been vulnerable to piracy.

Additionally, the white paper highlights some of the best-selling African acts with a global following.

If the African music business were on trial, key witnesses would include the major record labels, because some have returned to open offices in Sub-Saharan Africa after an absence of several years.

Also making a case for the defense in the white paper are some of the leading music entrepreneurs and executives selling, marketing and safeguarding African and international repertoire on the ground.

They are Africori’s Yoel Kenan; Rob Cowling at Gallo Record Company; Dumisani Kapanga at iROKO Music; Jean-Louis Charlety at telecoms giant Orange; Sheer Publishing’s David Alexander; Michael Ugwu at Sony Music, West Africa; and Nelson Ononiwu from X3M Music.

Check out the positive stories they have to tell about the African music business in interviews with MediaTainment Finance editor-in-chief Juliana Koranteng.

Their contribution comes at a time Midem believes the potential for revenues to be generated in Africa for rights owners can only intensify. And while copyright laws still need to be robust, there is now a will and reason to do something about it.


Explore more about the new African-music frontier in our exclusive white paper


Top photo © Rohappy/GettyImages


About Author

International journalist Juliana Koranteng is the London-based editor-in-chief of MediaTainment Finance - - a business journal that keeps track of investments in the global media, entertainment and creative industries

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