Music Industry in the UN Year of Creative Economy


On June 30th,2021 there was a virtual event organized by MIPAD, Most Influential People of African Descent. It was a global conversation titled, “The Music Industry & the Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic.”  This was the fourth series in support of UN Year of Creative Economy.

The panelists were; Amy Shelver, Public Information Officer, UNCTAD (South Africa), Monde Twala, Viacom CBS Africa, Tina Davis, Empire Inc, USA, Sam Onyemelukwe – Trace TV, West Africa, Eric “Soul” Karengera– AFROGROOV, Rwanda, and Ad Junior – Trace TV, Brazil.

Below are their contributions during this powerful session.


Amy Shelver, UNCTAD South Africa.

“A December 2020 report from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce showed how much the Corona Virus affected this famous music city’s industries. 74% of musicians said that they had experienced unemployment since March 2020 and saw their annual income plunged by 10,000 Dollars to below 36,000 Dollars a year. Nashville’s venues lost 72% of their revenues, costing the industry 17 Million Dollars in lost wages and delivering a 24 Million Dollar hit to Nashville’s GDP.”

“A new report released this week on the impact of the pandemic on the international Dance Music industry said it saw a 54% decline in value in 2020, now down to less than half what it was worth at 3.6 Billion Dollars.”

“In Kenya last year, the HIVA Fund ran a survey that found that more than half the creative industry estimated their COVID-19 income losses as severe. Musicians surveyed said that they turned to digital platforms, but it was difficult to get attention because of over saturation in the online market and that electricity and internet connectivity issues frustrate the streaming process.”

“Music streaming in the UK now brings in more than 1 Billion Pounds of revenue a year, but the fact remains that artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated. We’re talking about micro-cent on an actual cent. This is only offset on the potential of scale in the streaming arena and a global audience, but event this requires investment and that’s why we’re here today…and access that many unknown and emerging artists simply don’t have.”


Monde Twala – Viacom CBS, Africa

“COVID has forced all of us to re-imagine how we do business, it’s inspired even more heightened levels for innovation in our business and across the industry. Traditional models are challenged and this has really forced us to think differently. One critical aspect of that is how we were all used to physical events. Book an artist, he/she performs at the event, you pay them their fees, and the event is a success, etc. However, we were able to review our approach as it was still very important to us to ensure that our brand remains tangible and relatable to our consumers. Beyond the fact that young people love music for entertainment benefits, it’s also a great unifier.”

“This thinking led us to birth the virtual Africa Day Benefit Concert in 2020, in partnership with YouTube, with the objective of unifying Africans through music from some of the best talents across the continent. I am proud to say that this virtual concert has been a huge success for two (2) years running and we hope to have it as an annual event. Over the last 16 months or so of the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen music being very central to inspiring people to be able to cope with stressful situations. And we will, through MTV Base, Africa’s number one music and entertainment channel, continue to be a source of inspiration to our audiences.”

“In the era of social media and digitization, artists/musicians are relying less on broadcasters for visibility and reach. They now rely a lot more on platforms like YouTube and social networks. The implication of that for us is that we need to completely flip the script on how things are done, given that the relevance of previous approaches is fast dwindling. A transition is happening, and it is happening fast. And as a business, ViacomCBS Africa understands the trends and is adapting as well. Digital is growing…while we’re taking advantage of technology, we’re also creating structured revenue streams that will help creatives and artists continue to thrive.”

“Music transcends border, music elevates. That’s a big part of what we are trying to do from both an MTV and BET perspective. On an annual basis, we showcase African music even as far as Europe with the Europe Music Awards (EMAs). The last two years, we’ve had the BET Hip-Hop Awards, which now officially has an African category. A couple of years ago, an African artist wouldn’t walk the BET stage to get recognized. That was an issue for us but we’ve had to do a lot more engagement and education to finally realize a dream that has impacted music greatly on the African continent. There’s still a lot of education that is needed to really teach the world about the African culture; to use the culture to mobilize a specific narrative that can support Africans and black people around the world.”

“I just want to encourage and inform everyone that we, ViacomCBS Networks Africa, are open for business. Let’s knock on each other’s doors to have these collaborative conversations, implement them and make them more tangible. Let’s make this business, especially the African music industry, a priority and an aim for global success. We need to push for some kind of trade incentive for the creative industry across countries on the African continent, as that’s how we will be able to create better sustainability for the music industry that has the best pool of professionals and prioritizes best practices and scale.”


Tina Davis – Empire Inc., USA

“At Empire, we’ve always really been in a digital space, we’ve always been a forerunner and we respect where music is going and how digital streaming is taking over or has taken over.”

“Nowadays talent comes from everywhere. You find talent on YouTube, you find talent on SoundCloud. You find a little bit of talent everywhere and we use a lot of the information online to get sort of an idea of where they’re going…when the pandemic happened, when it comes to talent, we can still find talent, no matter what.”

“In the pandemic, we signed maybe 25 artists from Africa…we didn’t get a chance to meet them face to face until a week ago.”

“You don’t have to sign with a major label. You can sign with an independent hybrid company and still have generational wealth.”

“It’s not just about streaming. If you just look at the streaming, then you’ll miss some of the best talents that are out. We use our gut. Digital information, digital research is really to get an idea of where the artists are on their journey.”

“We plan to come to Nigeria first…to do master classes…to come and speak to people about building their own empires because that’s what Empire is, we help people build their empires…we want to give back to Africa period, not just Nigeria, Africa overall.”


Sam Onyemelukwe – Trace TV, West Africa.

“On the digital, giving artists access, education, and an understanding of what the digital landscape has to offer. From streaming to social…there’s a monetization behind it that some of them may not even know about.”

“We look at the streaming numbers, we look at the YouTube views, but we also go with our gut. We listen to the streets to find out what’s happening…We’re listening to all indicators to try to get the best view.”

“Broadcasters have been eclipsed in many ways, we’re more part of the consuming spectrum than we were 10-25 years ago when we kind of controlled it. For us that gives us more flexibility to showcase stuff that we may love, or we may feel is hot and maybe hasn’t charted or hasn’t gotten an ear.”


Eric “Soul” Karengera– AFROGROOV – Rwanda

“In Rwanda we have our artists who are striving, making music for the last 10 – 15 years, the music industry has developed very rapidly, at the same pace as the rest of the socio-economic development of the country that is documented all over the world. But in terms of our music competing on the African market, we can say that Rwanda is still at an embryonic stage.”

“The opportunity is to look into the professionalization, and education of the music makers to be able to produce a sound that is more competitive and be able to package and market it for the 21st-century digital consumer because the sound that’s coming from East Africa is going to revolutionize again the sounds of Africa.”

“Music, technology, and finance, I think this is where sustainable solution and new business model will be found. If there are new business models to explore, I think that fin-tech is the best ally for the future of music.”

“People can be blinded by the glitz and glamour of the industry and the understanding policymakers, decision-makers and high-level officials have of the value proposition and ROI mechanism of the music industry is very limited. A format that could help demystify the industry, where experienced professionals with credible track records of success could advise these people on how to design tax laws, cultural and investment policies, build infrastructures and create an environment conducive for hard-working creators to be supported, thrive, and evolve toward success. So there is a case to be made for designing a master class, training or webinars, or some sort of educational format where high-level policymakers, economists, lawyers, and decision-makers can learn, engage, and be re-educated by credible and experienced professionals from the creative industry.”

“In East Africa, I’m observing experimentation, underground, futuristic, hybrid of sounds that are drawn from different type cultural expression, different type of time signatures. It’s not like Afrobeats, Amapiano, or House Music, it’s very hybrid. There are different types of drum & rhythm signatures, instrumentation, vocal deliveries, languages, sound aesthetics not yet heard outside of the communities from which they originate. It’s very interesting.”


Ad Junior – Trace TV, Brazil.

“Brazilians consume 86% Brazilian music and live music. It’s a very musical country. We have lots of different types of genre in Brazil.”

“The opportunities are amazing because we have more than 120 Million blacks and Afro-descendants in Brazil and they are really keen to consume new things. We started a new show called Juba talking about what is the biggest hit in Africa. It is becoming a big hit.”

“The opportunity is to start a new conversation with the Brazilians, with the music, the musicians, with everything that is going on, with the COVID. What I think that we should do more, is people listen to Brazilians and Brazilians listen to other people’s music. But please don’t come to talk to Brazilians with this idea of let’s do the Samba or in the carnival and Baya and stuff, No. Just listen to what we are trying to say. The struggles that these people are living. That’s why they mostly cannot showcase what they’re producing, there is systemic racism that does not allow us to go abroad and do other things.”

“The first step for us to do something bigger than music, but the connection through the music in order the change the world is to have key people talking to each other and looking for spaces where we can project a better way.”


Tope Esan – Mipad, COO.

“Of the estimated 50 Billion Dollars annual global revenue from the music industry, about half, 47% to be exact comes from recorded music, meaning streaming, downloads, syncs and live entertainment accounts for the other half. All the data shows that the streaming sector saw significant growth in the absence of live entertainment.”

“With over 12 Million Afro-descendants, Brazilian artists are doing streaming numbers higher than American artists. I think the language barrier is what not going you more of an opportunity.”


Kamil Olufowobi – Mipad, CEO.

“Everything that we’re asking that we need, we have it right here. We have the United Nations here…we have you who are leading voices in the music industry. One of the things we need to do is to show the policymakers the contribution of music to their different countries. In 2019, the UK music industry contributed 5.8 Billion pounds to the country. I would like to create a research document to show African regional governments what the contribution of the music industry is.”

To watch the full powerful session kindly click on the link

For Job opportunities kindly connect with Angela Regalado, Global Director, Talent for Job Opportunities in the Creative Sector

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