Billboard.com: African music rising on the the world map

Africa, On the Rise (Analysis)

If you were to take the latest global recorded music data from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), published last week , you could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t a whole lot going on with digital music in Africa.

It’s understandable why the highly regarded report is still conservative towards the continent; the data on the various African markets is sparse, especially when South Africa is removed from the discussion. But, in a sure sign that the music business doesn’t want perception manipulated by a lack of good data, the IFPI broke out two pages in its annual report to give an overview of how the region and some of its key markets are developing.

South Africa, the largest formal music market on the continent, saw digital music grow by 107% in 2013, representing 14% of the total market. The overall formal market was valued at $63 million by IFPI.

IFPI doesn’t provide numbers just yet for the continent’s potentially larger markets like Nigeria (with a population three times that of South Africa) or other creative hotbeds like Ghana, Kenya (estimated to be worth around $50 million) and Angola, among others, but there’s every indication in IFPI’s 2014 report that Africa, which it acknowledges as having had a “huge influence” on global music culture, is about to turn the corner with digital distribution.

At last month’s Billboard/Beats FM Music Day at Social Media Week Lagos, Roc Nation’s director of mobile strategies Briant Briggs was as excited as most people about the market’s potential.

“I think there is huge potential in the African Market, with the price of smart phones dropping and penetration rising over the next 18 months,” said Briggs, who is leading a more comprehensive rollout of Roc Nation’s operations across the continent. “As smartphone use rises, there will be more consumption of content, including music.”

Yoel Kenan, former senior VP of international marketing for Sony BMG who now runs Africori, which is set up to help play a pivotal role in building digital libraries and manage rights for labels and publishers across Africa. The French-born executive said the industry is finally getting together with a real will to create a more commercially viable ecosystem. “The biggest opportunity is to grow new revenue streams — especially digital — in Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” says Kenan. “Nigerian music is loved in Africa and the majority of the potential revenues and growth is in Africa.” […]

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