Nathan Kwabena Anokye Adisi (Bola Ray), Chief Executive Officer of EIB Network was one of the speakers at the 2018 Africa Music Business Summit.

Adisi spoke on the topic: ‘Africa Music in a Global Village: Leveraging the Opportunities.’

The event was held at the Kempinski Hotel on Thursday, November 22 as part of activities marking the 5th All Africa Music Awards.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, President of Musicians Union of Ghana, Bice Osei Kuffour (Obour), Joe Chialo, Senior Vice President, A & R, Universal Music Group, Central Europe and Africa and many others also spoke at the Summit.

Read full presentation by Bola Ray below. 

Good day to you all present. It feels good to be on this stage. My name is Nathan Kwabena Anokye Adisi, widely referred to in the ecosystem, as Bola Ray.

I work as the Chief Servant of Africa’s fastest growing media group; the EIB Network. EIB operates 9 radio properties, 3 television stations, a newspaper and a digital-only unit.

To all participating guests, we say Akwaaba, and do well to enjoy the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality. We are hopeful that after this event, you would have found a new home, that is if you have not.

I want to congratulate the organizers for a good job done. Indeed, AFRIMA has come to stay and what better way to consolidate that fact than to use Ghana as a vehicle of getting that message through. On behalf of the Ghanaian people, I can assure you that you will continue to enjoy our immense support. Thank you.


Africa Music in a Global Village: Leveraging the Opportunities

There is no doubt African music has taken its rightful place in the established world order. From the unique Afrobeats sound to the rich Hiplife and Highlife tunes blazing their way through a sonic journey that begins in Accra, the streets of Mombasa and Lagos to the Projects in the United States, there is one unique theme that runs through: African music is live and alive.

On a recent trip to London for the maiden edition of the Ghana Meets Naija UK concert, I was impressed to note how the playlists of some of London’s popular urban radio stations have largely been shaped by Afrobeats. The sheer size was encouraging, and spoke volumes about how far we have progressed as an industry.

Artistes like Mr Eazi, KiDi, Kuami Eugene, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, King Promise, Davido and the young blazing star, Wizkid have made enough statements about how they were ready to take on the world.

A part of this revolution has shaped how Africa’s music industry story has been told in the last few years. Years gone by, getting a primetime slot on the BBC or Sky News was unheard of. But today, it has become a routine for African acts to appear on the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme when they go to the UK for a show.

Two nights ago I was watching a video of Ghanaian export Wiyaala on Sky News. And this was, primetime television. Same goes for Mr Eazi, who was on Sky recently to talk about his latest Empawa Africa idea that supports young music talents with seed money.

Today, acts like Ali Kiba, Sauti Sol, Kiss Daniel and Victoria Kimani get to transcend borders thanks to the inroads African music is making. Stonebwoy’s recent collaboration with Sean Paul wouldn’t have happened years ago but for the trading equity of the ever growing African music.

Leveraging the Opportunities

Weytin we gain?

But in all of this, there has to be the bottom line. Beyond the niceties of the Fader, and Complex magazine features, and the numerous web pages that celebrate African music in the New York Times and Washington Post, there has to be a concerted effort to benefit immensely from the goodwill.

We should get to a point where the equity easily translates into money, and this is true for every reason including survival and sustaining the brands we love and adore. If we need to continue seeing R2Bees on stage or give the loudest cheer to Olamide for giving other young musicians their breakthrough, we have to be deliberate about our pursuit of growth.

Every Cedi, Naira and Rand matters. Survival is key if we are to safeguard our collective legacies, which are at stake in this push for African music’s survival. To everyone seated in this room, you have contributed one way or the other in telling what has become a successful African music story. If we fail, the story will be told years to come, of how we got an opportunity and blew it away.

As Victor AD (anyway Victor is coming for the #SConcert here on December 7) rightly puts it, if we don’t make money weytin we gain?

He is right: this message directly speaks to us. If we don’t build structures that ensure sustainability, weytin we gain? If we don ‘t fight piracy head-on, weytin we gain? If we don’t push our respective governments to show interest in the Arts and Entertainment industry here in Africa, weytin we gain? If we don’t speak truth to power about Payola (which hinders the promotion of good music and talents), weytin we gain? I can continue: If we don’t pay talents (Dancers, choreographers, instrumentalists, PR persons, road managers and the lists goes on) what is rightfully due them, weytin we gain? If we don’t push for tighter intellectual theft laws, weytin we gain? If we don’t build strong distribution networks, weytin we gain?

It is only when we have been candid about these that we will secure the needed stock to go to market with.

As an industry, we have the numbers on our side. We have every motivation to succeed.

In their 2018 to 2022 Entertainment and Media Outlook: An African Perspective report, PricewaterhouseCoopers projected that total revenue in this sector in South Africa alone, is expected to reach some 177.2 billion Rand (That is about 12 billion dollars). And just to reiterate, this is just for South Africa.

The same PricewaterhouseCoopers last year projected that Caller Ringback tones will drive the music revenue in Ghana to about 1.5 billion dollars in the next five years. There is however slow growth expected in the streaming sector as internet penetration levels, is still low. That notwithstanding, it is expected to take some 68% share of overall revenue by 2021. Collectively, and whichever mediums we have access to and can use, we must push for improved internet penetration if we are to rely on streaming in the next few years.

The opportunities exist and we must take advantage of them.

Taking advantage of the unique position we find ourselves in will mean being ready when the perks come calling. The world is watching: they see what we have been doing. They know about the huge YouTube figures, they know about the ever expanding streaming figures we garner online on Boomplay, iTunes and Aftown. They took note even before the sounds of ‘One Dance’ went up and became Spotify’s most streamed music ever with 875 million individual streams, and long before Wizkid and Tiwa Savage got us talking about STEW all week.

Today, we are not only ‘STEWING’ everywhere, we are telling the world that we are ready to play big. For us, drinking deep is far better than just being part of a tiny fraction. We want to lead; we want to headline the Coachella, and Glastonbury (Shouts to Stormzy, who is of Ghanaian descent and has been announced as a headline act for the 2019 edition). We want to do major.

Again, I say, we need to be ready. This would also require a huge behavioural shift and change. We need to be seen as being interested in our own survival story; we have to be partakers and collaborators in this.

Today, Boomplay has announced a unique collaboration with Universal Music; how well is the African music scene taking advantage of this? Universal Music Group have made acquisitions, signed on acts and started a home-based label. Spotify is planning a huge African expansion; they have started off in South Africa; the rest of us have to be ready. What support are we as acts giving to local initiatives, whose only interest is to us as a collective.

Yes, we can sit here all day and scream for equity, but if we don’t go to the table with clean hands, we will lose the fight. The fight out there is bigger than any one artiste, media establishment or A&R executive. It is a collective one that speaks only one language: leverage.

In leveraging, we have to be innovative. So, if you are a Killertunes (Shabalistica) or Killbeatz, or Neptune or a Vyrusky, your work stands threatened with the advent of technology. How ready will you be when it happens? These are questions that should dominate our everyday discussion.

There is hope even in the face of what sometimes appear to be the dwindling fortunes of this vibrant space. We can and should win together.

Not for self, but for all.

Gob bless us all. Long live African music.

I leave you with the sound of ‘Azonto’ by FUSE ODG; if they didn’t see this proud African music story of ours take off, they do now.