Music in Nigeria used to be a live affair. Music was recorded with live instruments, and mostly performed live, before the inception of records and cassette players became popular. This was the pre-analogue age. Soon after came the digital age, where Nigerian artistes were consumed by the call of digitally recorded music and Compact Discs. Performances and concerts gradually shifted from being a purely live experience to a case of miming and lip syncing, and the people loved it. The introduction of production software and hardware made it even easier to abandon the pure flavor of music production. As time went on, artistes and producers no longer needed a band to create the instrumentals for a song. Enter the new age Nigerian Artiste. Call me controversial but this is what I believe started the watering down process of afropop in Nigeria.

Thankfully, after quite a few years of monotonous song releases and less than enjoyable concerts, a number of Nigerian artistes are starting to re-discover the light. Lately, many have taken to paying homage to legends such as King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti, and are fast abandoning lip syncing for live performances at their concerts. Slowly but surely, we are returning to an era where live music is preferred and not just relegated to traditional ceremonies. More musicians are getting involved in the music making process, and more songs are influenced by Afrobeats, and Ghanaian Highlife, which had their roots in live performances. Live performances are even used in the business side of music as a bargaining chip to increase artiste fees. Managers literally say “You know my artiste performs live with a band”. They have all seen the light.

The demand for more live performances has opened up a lot of avenues for music to intersect, once again, with various aspects of our culture. While we can now enjoy live performances at venues such as Muri Okunola park, Freedom park, Gbogobiri , The Backyard , New Fela Shrine, New Afrika Shrine, Jazzhole, Hard Rick Cafe, to mention a few, we also see a lot of these events incorporating fashion shows, art, and food such that we have a very diverse audience taking in the entire experience.

These are exciting times for the Nigerian music industry, indeed. Not only has the return to live music reawaken the love for our culture, we now have more artistes daring to diverge from the norm and create their own type of art. Some people call this ‘the alte movement’, but that’s a topic for another day.

Momoh Itamomoh
Lead Events PR
BHQ Media