Canon’s “ African Frontiers of Innovation ” series in Central and North Africa explores the sounds of the future



The whole world has seen an abrupt end to live entertainment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The spirit of African musicians was not deterred, rather they innovated to entertain music lovers to the rhythm of their music. The expert panelists at the second session of Canon’s groundbreaking Thought Leadership Series (www.Canon-CNA.com) looked at the ups and downs of African musical innovations and what they mean for the future.

Titled Sound of the Future: Making Music in Africa Today and hosted by award-winning Kenyan journalist Victoria Rubadiri, this second session brought together Egyptian singer / songwriter Malak El Husseiny and Natasha Stambuli, CEO of Boomplay Tanzania.

Live streaming on Facebook and LinkedIn allowed audiences to gain insight into the experiences of artists, producers and the African music industry as a whole. The panel shared the effects of foreclosure and increased digitization both at a personal and industry level, highlighting surprising breakthroughs and advancing actionable solutions to current challenges – the most obvious of them. being a loss of income in live musical performances.

The industry has overcome deep-rooted challenges in terms of piracy, copyright and monetization of their production. Despite continued setbacks, African musical artists have triumphed in attracting a global audience, as the sound of their music is distinctive and undeniably compelling.

These critical questions, and many more, have all been explored in detail in Canon’s monthly “African Frontiers of Innovation” series in Central and North Africa. This interactive series explores current issues and offers innovative strategies and solutions for a world on the path to post-pandemic recovery.

Across borders

“It’s amazing what can come out of survival mode – you find so many creative ways to create and promote your music,” said Malak El Husseiny, whose album release was halted last March due to pandemic, but hopes to be able to roll it back imminently. moving.

The challenges, adds the artist, have been endless: “But along with that, there were also a lot of opportunities; geographic boundaries completely disappeared and we found ourselves collaborating with others around the world, which I never thought possible before Covid-19. In my case, for example: instead of just shooting a video as usual, I now collaborate with 3D visual artists and bring these songs to life. We found a lot of opportunities in the challenges, ”she revealed.

El Husseiny also had the chance to generate brand support and highlighted the various other initiatives of African artists to supplement their sources of income, apart from releasing new music. These included developing branded products and offering their songwriting and voiceover services on freelance job portals. Many artists have also used their recording and rehearsal facilities as production studios, as well as streaming and social media services to post their work or even record live performances online.

The positive effects of these efforts will remain long after the pandemic has subsided and will further assist African musicians in their efforts to gain a foothold on the world stage, notes Natasha Stambuli. “Artists have now experienced the best of both worlds, offline and online, and they can use all of their learning to improve themselves and improvise even more – and we music lovers can appreciate them even more because we now we have a better understanding of their difficulties, ”she said. .

The challenges of the digital drawcard

Technology has long been driving the evolution of the music industry, facilitating and accelerating the development of streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer. African streaming operators such as Boomplay – which has 62 million subscribers in 10 key African markets – are also on the rise. Social media has also helped move African musicians forward: in 2020, five of the top 10 artists by Twitter growth were Nigerian musicians with millions of Boomplay streams.

“Nigerian artists have pushed the boundaries of streaming because they understand how the streaming business works and how to get the most out of an app – and this raises the question of education in the music industry,” he said. noted Stambuli. “Artists also need help with regulations to help protect the copyright in their works and ensure they get royalties.”

This, Stambuli adds, is a learning curve that all stakeholders are now grappling with, as the lockdown has proven to be a “ wake-up call ” for artists, governments and the general public for they understand that artists, as content creators, need strong, fundamental support. El Husseiny highlighted another institutional shortage: that of managers who understand the job. “I’ve been looking for a manager for a year now, but we don’t have enough managers who understand the music industry or the value of what we bring to the table, and what they can do to get the best out of it. party of offers, for example. “

Panelists agreed that further training on the policies and processes that make up the music industry – as well as protective regulations – will compensate for the mismatch between the value of streaming platforms derived from the content they have and the income that goes to creators – music. the biggest challenge in the industry today.

Back to the future: unleashing Africa’s musical potential

According to a Bloomberg report (https://bloom.bg/3r7RqAP) Africa and the Middle East saw a 16% increase in recorded music revenue and crossed the $ 100 million threshold in 2019 – indicating that Africa is, like Billboard (https: //bit.ly/2MC8MXk), the next frontier of music.

“The African Frontiers of Innovation series is always insightful and thought-provoking. These platforms stimulate dialogue and break down barriers and boundaries to create global collaboration and learning. This second session recognized the significant progress and impact of African musicians, despite the various challenges they face, ”said Mai Youssef, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing Services – Canon Middle East and Canon Central Africa and the North.

“African musicians are raising the stakes not only by positioning themselves as original artists, but also by creating a space for mutual learning and concept exchange with their counterparts around the world. Where can you find such a diverse range of genres and sounds, all woven into a continent of untapped potential, ”adds Youssef.

Don’t miss the third episode of the series, Wednesday March 17, where an equally distinguished and diverse panel takes an in-depth look at the innovations, developments and challenges of the printing industry on the continent.

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