Chapter Five

Contemporary Culture and Music Business in a Data-Driven World


Age is getting to know all the ways the world turns, so that if you cannot turn the world the way you want, you can at least, get out of the way so you won’t get run over. – Miriam Makeb

Defining the New Cool: A Digital Kennis Music Model

In the 1990s and early 2000s, artistes had to work twice as hard to get maximum airplay and then hope the song takes a life of its own. During a March 2019 episode of the Alibaba Seriously show on NTA, veteran gospel act Sammie Okposo narrated how it took two years for one of his songs to “blow” at the peak of his career, over a decade ago. Until the African Independent Television (AIT) based in Lagos, decided to play his video on TV, all he could do was wait. This would be an anomaly today because once a song is not making waves in two or three weeks after its release, the artist is back in the studio creating something else. In that period, the artist could apply the Kennis Music model to publicise it and extend it to social media. The record label was one of the most popular in Nigeria in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was founded in 1998 by Kenny “Keke” Ogungbe and Dayo “D-one” Adeneye, who also hosted TV and radio shows—AIT Jamz, later Prime Time Jamz—primarily on the popular AIT and Ray Power 100.5 FM in Lagos. The combination of their record label and their culture-defining TV and radio shows on the most influential broadcast platforms at the time meant that they were positioned to define what was cool for the culture and what was not. They would play artists’ songs on rotation on radio until it stuck in the consciousness of their listeners, and these songs often became monster hits—this was their model. I thought Tony Tetuila’s monster hit My Car was a poor song the first time I heard it, I fell in love with it just a week later and never fell out of love. That was the power of Kennis Music.

How Digital Platforms Are Redefining the Rules of Music and Pop Culture

Most of these artists, they don’t know much about numbers. But you see, the numbers are everything. If you aren’t measuring your progress, how can you tell what is working and what is not?” –Olamide Adedeji (@olamide_YBNL) superstar artist and founder of YBNL Nation.

We live in an era where traditional gatekeepers are losing their grip on entire industries and the conventional idea of what it means to be a “media house” has changed and continues to evolve. For example, the World Economic Forum could be regarded as media house now, with its plethora of well researched videos and content that it shares on its digital platforms. This extends their reputation as organisers of the global Davos meetings and its regional versions around the world.

This is a view of Randi Zuckerberg, who gained extensive digital media experience after working at her brother Mark’s Facebook. She is now the owner of Zuckerberg Media, which owns Dot Complicated, a digital lifestyle website. In her 2013 book, she wrote:

“We have entered this interesting new world where every person and brand need to think of itself as a media company, as a content creator with a sharing strategy. For example, Starbucks will spend millions of dollars on advertisements to potentially reach their customers on morning TV shows, such as Morning Joe. But Starbucks has so many followers on Facebook alone that any message they broadcast on the Facebook platform will reach more people than a similar advertisement on every single morning show combined. An online platform gives companies direct access to millions more accessible, demographically identifiable individuals following them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

Why Your Art Is only the Anchor

This is not just about the power of an artist’s music, but the reach of his or her presence on social media. Fans who love an artist’s body of work need to connect with their idol daily on his or her social media, or else it becomes hard for the artist to build a dedicated and passionate followership in a world that never suffers for distractions. It is not impossible to build such a following outside social media; however, social media and other digital platforms magnify the impact. Your followers need their own priest and shrine, with you as the arrowhead of the movement. Artists like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Diamond Platnumz, Sarkodie, Olamide, Simi, Reminisce, Yemi Alade have mastered this art. Davido has become the posterchild of this movement. In an age where data determines every move; a time where digital distribution is the norm instead of the exception, musicians are now selling more than music. They are selling a personality, merchandising experiences and items; selling an obsession. Fans want more than just finished music now; they want to see the creative process behind the scenes. They want to see their funny side. They want them to serve them teasers and content on the go like Teni Makanaki.