Afrobeats, yes that contemporary urban sound-not to be
confused by Fela’s Afrobeat-is one of the biggest and most popular sounds out
of Africa and richly so from West Africa that has taken the world by storm.
Many publications especially from the west blanket-ly refer
to any urban sound from Africa as ‘Afrobeats’, well this is wrong in many ways,
but that’s a story for another of those rainy days that you’ll need a read that
looks to explore a misinterpreted musical genre, then after the last full-stop
you’ll be left with that oddly awkward grainy flavor in your mouth, only a cup of
coffee will neutralize.
Anyway, back to the Afrobeats where the Warner Music Group has
chosen to look to as it seeks to expand and strategize for the future. First of
all Africa is the future of global business, now if you argue with this
statement, with respect to music, you need to read the trends that are shaping
popular music globally, if your premises in any format miss the African contemporary
sound in it then most likely your argument would be invalid.
Afrobeats as a genre as the global pop culture media seem to
define it, is a sound that has attracted many fans from the African continent and
beyond. We have seen many artists from across Africa attempt to build their
productions with a taste of the Afrobeats, a genre that fuses hip-hop, pop,
dance and inspired by the Afrobeat sound created by the iconic Nigerian artist
and activist Fela Kuti.
The growth of the genre has translated to financial success
and thus viewed as a lucrative venture for the global music giants looking to
expand their reach and influence and shaping the future of the global music
On Thursday, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Nigeria’s independent
music label Chocolate City announced a first of its kind partnership which will
have artists signed with Chocolate City become part of the Warner Music Group catalog
and the same time the American multinational entertainment and record label
conglomerate will take on distribution and artist services through
ADA, the Warner Music Group’s Independent label services division.
“The Chocolate City team will continue to develop local
artists and support the management of WMG’s global superstars across Sub
Saharan Africa, including a strategic, reciprocal marketing agreement with WMG
South Africa. WMG will also provide financial support for Chocolate City to
help achieve its mission of signing and developing the best local talent in
this fast-growing market” The statement from Warner Music Group read.
Warner Music Group is following on the footsteps of the
likes of Universal Music Group and Sony who have already ventured into the
“Nigeria is one of the most exciting music markets in the
world and Chocolate City’s trailblazing role in it over the years cannot be
overstated. The label will provide us with valuable insight on best practices
in the region, as well as on-ground expertise in scouting and developing
emerging talent. Our partnership allows for a free exchange of ideas and music
that will promote and support local artists, exemplifying WMG’s primary
objective in determining our approach to emerging markets.” Temi Adeniji, Warner
Group’s Director, International Strategy and Operations said.
Chocolate City’s artist list includes the likes of Femi
Kuti, four-time Grammy nominated son of the Afrobeat pioneer Fela; hip-hop
artist and record producer M.I. Abaga, Afro beats sensation Dice Ailes, Nosa,
ClassiQ, Ruby Gyang and promising new acts Blaqbonez, C Kay and Street
Billionaires. In addition, Chocolate City’s catalogue includes celebrated acts
such as Brymo, Ice Prince, and Jesse Jagz.
“At Chocolate City, we have always been passionate about
discovering and developing the best talent across Africa and giving them a
platform for global growth. The partnership with Warner Music Group is unique
in the sense that our clients get the best of both worlds – curated and bespoke
services by a highly experienced team across Africa and a dedicated global team
to further push their music and their brands.” Chocolate City Group CEO Audu
Maikori spoke of the partnership.
According to Warner Music Group statement, Sub-Saharan
Africa is an exciting emerging market for music companies. It has a largely
youthful population of some 1.1 billion people with increasing access to
streaming services thanks to rising smartphone penetration. At the same time,
the popularity of Afrobeat and local hip-hop is surging worldwide, attracting
the attention of international artists and producers.
This would be the second deal that Warner Music Group is
engaging in with an African entity after last month’s signing of a partnership
with top African music streaming service Boomplay.