Ever since Billboard built its Top 100 charts, the American music industry has seen itself turn into a multi billion dollar industry. For the first time in history, people experienced the direct correlation between charting and revenue. A correlation soon to be experienced in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry.
If you were born in the days of dubbing music on cassette tapes, then you probably remember how dependent you were on Billboard charts and the U.K. Top 40 to be the absolute music industry bible. As enthusiastic consumers of international music, these charts influenced every decision you made about the types of mix cassette tapes you ‘dubbed’ (for those of you that didn’t use the term ‘dub’, it means ‘to record’ or ‘to reproduce’). Back in the day, we were always eager to watch an episode of UK Top 40 or listen to radio shows to find out if our favorite artists had made it on the charts. The chart providers would highlight the top performing songs week after week on radio, on TV and in magazines until what happened? People started buying those songs. Every week, a new wave of artists will make it to the charts and immediately there would be a spike in their popularity and a spike in their sales.
The secret to successful charting and exponential growth of an industry lies in the integrity and consistency of data fed to the end users. End users being the brands, the record labels, the artists, the producers, the composers, the collecting societies and most especially, the buyers of music.
Advanced technology known as audio fingerprinting is the source behind the integrity and consistency in capturing, aggregating and distribution of charts. For the first time recorded in Nigerian history, the challenge of data integrity and accuracy has finally been solved, and the missing link that will tie every player in the industry together is becoming widespread.
Billboard began charting in 1940 and within that year compiled and released its very first music popularity chart. Billboard built its reputation as a leader for music charts by publishing airplay charts for each genre of music. But just like the situation in Nigeria, for many years chart data was not completely trusted or received with open arms by industry stakeholders and Billboard knew that for charts to successfully influence revenue, something had to be done to win their trust.
The adoption of technology.
In the aftermath of Billboards partnership with Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, another crucial partnership was formed in 1991. This time, Billboard partnered with SoundScan who provided new computerized and statistically precise data and together they transformed the way music was created, charted and sold. They controlled the pulse of the industry and became invaluable to it’s success. The marriage between technology and the brand was not only a turning point in Billboard History but a turning point for the record labels, the unsigned artists, the signed artists, the writers, the producers, the collecting societies, the promoters, the consumers, the industry and the economy.
This was the birth of the now current relationship between charts and revenue – ‘the money’. A brilliant marketing strategy that would transform the American Music Industry forever. Indeed the Americans got it right because they understood that the formula for the growth of the music industry must include a trusted charting system and a positive influence on the listening habits, taste and lifestyle of music consumers.
Nigeria may be entering into a deep recession but the advent of an international standard of charting has begun and the exponential growth of our industry confirmed.
With the new trend of major record labels like Sony Entertainment signing Nigerian superstars like Wizkid, Davido and Tekno, thirst for Nigerian talent by other notable international record labels has just begun. So, though the future may look bleak from looking with a pair of naked eyes, one peak through a magnifying glass will reveal the tidal wave of demand heading straight toward our shores. Buckle up my people, we don dey blow. Yes sir. We don dey blow.