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How Do Nigerian Artistes Make Money?


There is a lot of knowledge out there about how artistes in bigger music markets make money from their craft and while they may apply out here in Nigeria, it does not quite explain the unique nature of the Nigerian music scene and how artistes make money from it. So today we would be explaining how artistes accrue revenues thanks to the work they do.

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Typically, general knowledge is that artistes get paid a lot and while they do not seem to have any qualms with the notion (if one considers the show of wealth on Instagram), that is not the case for a vast majority of acts believe it or not. If you are one of the thousands of up and coming acts on the street of Lagos or any other city, you will know that the road to actually getting your passion to pay you is a long and rocky one. Many never get around to even earning anything from their music and quit or just take it as a hobby while holding down a “real job”. For the top ten percent who may have blown or are “next to blow”, earning is hard work and not a straightforward affair even if the money comes in by the boatload. For perspective, Nigerian music space is largely unstructured with very little in the way of standard practices or institutions to propagate them so many artistes-usually successful ones- have to use their status and personal connections to manoeuvre bigger deals for themselves or even promote upcoming acts that they co-sign. Essentially, the bigger your fan base, the more you can hope to make. So here is how most artistes in these parts earn their money. We will be categorizing them in order of perceived volume.

There are two types of artistes: Independent and signed. With respect to signed artistes, ideally, artistes sign record contracts that pay them an agreed sum of money over a period or for a fixed number of releases usually with a renewal clause affixed to the body. In Nigeria, however, the terms are slightly different. Usually, the incentives tend to defer. The label offers accommodation, a car (probably), and a salary and a monthly stipend. This is usually the first batch of income pending a time when the artiste begins to make money as in via appearance/performance fees and endorsements, which brings us to the next source.

Independent or signed, however, performance/appearance fees represent the most dependable source of income for artistes. The trouble with it is that the artiste needs a steady slew of hits or strong fan base to sustain income otherwise it would dry up. The bigger or hotter the artiste, the more he or she can command per performance.

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Another source of income is brand/corporate sponsorship which while not as steady as the first, exceeds it in volume. The bigger an artistes’ status and fanbase are the more brands want to be associated with them for exposure to such a person’s fan base which can lead to increased sales. Brands are willing to pay huge sums of money for these acts to promote their products and services to their fans over a period of time that could be anything from weeks to months to years.

Influencer marketing is another source of income that is closely linked to endorsements but it is not the same thing. Artistes double as influencers as they have huge followings and brands pay to have their imprints on their Instagram or Twitter accounts. As usual, it depends a lot on the number of followers an artiste commands thus influence. Brands usually pay for each post. This can be one of the ways in which an artiste fulfils his or her obligations to a brand that he or she endorses.

Streaming is another stream of income and like others depend on the size of one’s fan base. Typically, streaming platforms pay a really small fraction (under a cent on the dollar) to the artiste and paychecks come quarterly. Streaming incomes are so small because the platforms pull all subscriber revenue, apportion thirty percent for itself and then shares the remaining among artistes according to their cumulative numbers for the period. That means the more listens, the more you stand to earn.

Touring is a major source of income for artistes who can afford to tour or can attract enough numbers in a given region to attract promoters. Nigerian artistes especially top acts, tend to play their most profitable dates in Europe and the US as well as Asia to a lesser extent. The bigger acts tend to play a size that is commensurate with their following in a given area hence the bigger the act, the bigger the venue and the more money the artiste makes.

Featured Image Source: Voice of Nigeria

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David Okwara

Some call me David. Others, Emerie. Others, (unfortunate fellows) Biggie. I like to think that I have sense and that is why I write too. Otherwise, I draw and paint and sing (in the bathroom) and love to make people laugh. I love to understand how things work and that’s why I love DIY videos and YouTube of course. Follow me on Twitter @EmerieOkwara

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