Afrobeat: Africa’s Opportunity to Participate in the Global EDM Economy

Afrobeat and the Fair-Trade of Music

Afrobeat is a new style for the global EDM industry. It is a suitable name for a respectable genre recognizing the electronic beats among Africa’s EDM artists.

Albeit, a new genre in industry-specific terms, the words of the native African music describes a much more mature sound that has been about 20 years in the making. Old news, it certainly is not. The greater story for Afrobeat is a global trend in EDM that is only beginning to unfold.

Music and Money

Is this a significant issue? Yes, as the pitfalls of bureaucratic greed where entrepreneurial middlemen collecting money from artists that do not see a dime of it. That is a global phenomenon wherever music trade occurs. The vulnerability of the music economy exists where no regulation of fair-trade is in place.

As it is in Africa, the piracy of artists music sales prevails as explained in an article from the New York Times:

In Lagos, Africa’s biggest city, legitimate music stores are rare, streaming services haven’t caught on and fans are flocking to markets like Computer Village, with its rows of yellow umbrellas shading young men selling illegal downloads.

Without a fair-trade system in place, Africa’s artists will not see earnings for their hard work. This is an unsettling possibility because the current Afrobeat’s appeal has all the promise of making money. Yet, there is no promise that any of that money will end up in artists’ hands.

Affording the Task of Music Production

African music talent is often without the wealth to afford the equipment of a common studio. For example, take the African music duo, Distruction Boyz. For one thing, they do not have such a studio. Instead, they use a scrap rendition of an instrument that they play through a broken personal computer.

This is the pride and joy that launched their career as DJs and Producers. That is impressive, but the musical creativity does not seem to add up to much of a profit.

Photo from BBC Website

As for the foreign Afrobeat successes in Portugal, the economy is much better in place for aspiring artists. Not only are there regular rooftop dance parties with laptops running Ableton live remixes on the fly. But, this is also in tandem with the cutting-edge manufacturing of electronic dance music instruments; Native-Instruments.

Further insight into the success of Afrobeat artists here. There is studio quality that is very much commonplace abroad. Furthermore, this illustrates the economic potential abroad versus within Africa.

Photo from Native Instruments Website

Listener-to-Artist Payment

Afrobeat is as much a genre as it is an example of the unfair trade in the modern music economy. African artists, like Black Coffee, acknowledge that African EDM is in need of a fair-trade system to secure a life and career of producing music. That can change with 21st-century technologies like blockchain that allow for the lucrative “streaming-as-mining” approach to collecting royalties from the direct transaction between listeners and artists.

That is the forward-thinking approach that is coming into effect by the British company called Choon.  The possibilities are optimistic with the advent of fair-trade internet music platforms and the dawn of Afrobeat.

Initiating Economic Change

Bringing about this kind of fair-trade takes more than a general consensus of its favorability. Such change comes from action. An action plan where a strategy is in place to actualize the change in the African EDM economy. Accessing the music abroad is easily done as there is much popularity abroad in European countries like Portugal and Spain.

At present, Africa is yet to make the most of a promisingly popular EDM trend that is uniquely their own. The money matters if the music is going to continue. Without it, there is always something else to listen to. Yet, that does not mean that Africa may see another opportunity to leverage its EDM economy.

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Eric Niebergall

Eric Niebergall enjoys telling the stories behind the music.

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