Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry

    The ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry is an invisible yet visible phenomenon perpetrated by the industry gatekeepers.

    However, ceremonial politics happens in the Nigerian industry, and every music industry all over the world, therefore it is inevitable and also perceived as the norm, without them, they are behind some movement of musical giants like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Olamide and so on.

    Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry
    Wizkid on stage performing

    The gatekeepers are also regarded as the industry elders, Starmaker or the industry cabals, they make things happen, pioneer so many movements, determines who and who will get a designated award under their jurisdiction, operating behind the scenes.

    Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry
    Burna Boy on stage performing

    Some of the playmakers are Ayeni Adekunle, Cecil Hammond, Sunday Are (Wizkid’s Manager), Ayo Animashaun (Headies CEO), Olisa Adibua, Chris Ubosi, Obi Asika, Tola Odunsi, Paul Okoye (Also known as Paul O, CEO for upfront and personal bookings), Steve Babaeko, Efe Omoregbe, Taju Adepetu, and more


    Detecting this favouritism goes back to the early days of the urban Nigerian music industry. In the ’90s and early 2000s, most of the young people who were interested in music built the foundation of the space and positioned themselves through the creation of companies and systems to get results.

    Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry
    Davido on stage performing

    It is also can’t be eradicated as it continues to linger to every generation in the industry.

    These people further increased in power, money and influence, becoming the owners of the biggest firms, labels and media houses.

    These people are friends, relying on each other for support through their platforms, and essentially dictating the pace of the game.

    Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry
    Olamide on stage performing

    Everyone needs to know someone to get a leg in, and the industry is all about relationships.

    There is an unspoken consensus about the Nigerian music industry that the scene is ruled by a political circle of powerful people, who control key affairs and opportunities within the space.

    Ceremonial politics of the Nigerian music industry
    Mr Eazi on stage performing

    They are regarded as both gatekeepers and chess masters, dictating the pace of movement, who rises and falls, who is blacklisted, and who receives a fair share of favours, deals and endorsements.

    Maleek Berry subtly called them out in a tweet in 2018 and he said ‘

    All you so-called elders behind the scenes are meant to be guiding younger African artists but instead you want to destroy people’s names behind the scenes, why because no one is brown nosing you?


    The Internet As An Equalizer has been a bit conservative and levelling part of the menace in the industry.

    Decision making somehow rests a while on individuality as the internet also plays some role in creative selections, an increase in internet penetration, created a huge potential for musicians to become successful by cutting out all the pipes and middlemen to reach their fans and market their content through their smartphones and social media platforms, they possess access to the consumers, and can push through connection through promotions and targeted advertisements.

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