On 17 and 18 November 2022, the first edition of the West African Music Industry Fair was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The opportunity for many music-related professions to take stock of the situation of this booming market.
He is tall, walks with sure-footedness, responds to everyone’s requests and questions. His name is Mamby Diomandé and he is the initiator, with the former Franco-Cameroonian rapper and producer Pit Baccardi, of these professional meetings that are held over two days at the Ivoire hotel in Abidjan. The young man is also Live&Brand Director of Universal Music Africa. It is therefore he who opens the first edition of Sima on 17 November, which aims to be a fixed appointment for the future.
While the life of an artist in West Africa in particular isn’t easy for many, the career of a producer, publisher, concert organizer or manager isn’t much more so. And there, in these conferences, key notes and other exchanges, the keywords seem to be: monetization, banking, valuation, regulation, industrialization, legislation, digitization, etc. We are far from artistic creation and yet these themes must also concern the first players in this industry, i.e. the artists.
“The objective of this show is to promote the actors of the industry of Francophone Africa, to propose concrete solutions to structure this industry and to transfer skills through master classes for the strengthening of the capacities of these actors”. Thus, Mamby Diomandé brought together many professionals living in the Ivory Coast and elsewhere and encouraged them to share their knowledge and experience.
Thus A’Salfo the leader of Magic System and organizer of Femua has in a key note particularly brilliant, he affirmed the importance of copyright and related rights, inviting artists to deal seriously with this issue. Universal Music Africa administrator Franck Kacou meanwhile provided an update on the role and place of major labels in the landscape, seeking to expose reality and debunk fantasy. Philo, director of Bomayé Music, developed the role of the producer and his implication in building an artist’s career. Many other leading exponents of this sector have added their stone to the edifice of global knowledge.
As Olivier Laouchez of Trace TV points out “there aren’t many events about organization, ‘business’ in francophone Africa and we all know that this sector needs to be permanently professionalised. It is a complex sector but extremely important. When we study the sector, in live people, music is the theme that most interests the entire population”.
A world in constant evolution, this is what emerges from these two days of conferences and exchanges. The themes are numerous and the difficulties indicated as so many projects that must be studied to find concrete solutions. This is, for example, the emergence of streaming platforms on the continent. “The cost of data is very high and access to the Internet is not easy. The solutions offered by legal music listening platforms are not adapted to the consumption habits of these local populations. When we know that, for example, in the Ivory Coast , banks the rate is less than 10%, accessing music via industry leaders such as Spotify or Deezer becomes difficult as a bank card is required, says Mamby Diomande. Some companies like Boomplay, a streaming application, develop their service over telephony.
Mamby Diamandé answers questions from the media
On productions and managements that are affected by the intervention of the informal economy, such as sponsorships or libanga (dedications of people’s names, even of products in songs) in Congo, it is necessary to structure the profession by creating associations or federations. “It is necessary to organize the guilds”, says Akotchaye Okio, international development manager for Africa at Sacem. And working with industry stakeholders to organize copyright and collective management on the continent, he seems well positioned to deliver this kind of message.
Legislation is an important part of streamlining and developing this music industry. “Reforms are needed. Political will is needed” says A’Salfo when he mentions, for example, the few rights paid by streaming platforms in Africa due to the lack of clear contracts. So many prizes that artists and rights holders do not recover. Indeed, the victims of all these shortcomings are obviously the creators of the works themselves who struggle to make a living from their art, or even fail at all.
Despite a difficult and complex inventory, since the themes are numerous and touch the economy, technology, society, art, etc. all these professionals underline the extraordinary potential of the sector. It should be remembered that youth is numerous and demographics are important. The speakers also stressed that globalization has positive sides such as the fact that today in the field of music there is no longer American domination. The public seems to have an appetite for music that is close to them, hence the importance of everyone’s culture in listening to music, with a non-negligible francophone dimension, compared for example to the Nigerian giants.
The painting is impressionistic and colorful. But it will undoubtedly increase in value over time because the protagonists all seem to have a foolproof motivation. Sima has managed to unite opposing forces, to show politicians the interest of the sector. Now we have to work to consolidate the dynamics.
Sims official site