Nigeria has scored remarkable wins in music over the last decade, readying its local talents for a global industry that is dominated by African art.


Afropop is driving concert euphoria and raking in massive numbers on digital streamers with its typical injection of indigenous styles, complex rhythms, and percussion into foreign influences to create music that transcends cultures. Western hitmakers want in on this power shift, attracting major collaborations that continue to fuel the genre’s global growth.

Nigeria is among the five minority countries that account for an estimated 86% of music revenue from Africa, so much so that brands like UMG, Warner, and Sony who control about 69% share of the global music recording market are either prepping to set up shop in Lagos or snapping up Nigeria’s local talents in deals of various sorts.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) projects that Nigeria’s music will hit $44 million in 2023, with live music alone already contributing $100 million yearly.


The movie scene is not left out as cinema revenue is projected to grow to $12 million by 2026 from the $6.6 million recorded in 2021, while Nigeria’s OTT (over-the-top) video streaming market — which includes players like Netflix, Showmax, and Prime Video — is to spiral up from the $14 million of 2021 to $26 million by the end of 2026.

Netflix alone invested over $23 million to either license local titles or commission original Nigerian content between 2016 and 2022, marking the country as being among its three priority markets for film in Sub-Saharan Africa, alongside South Africa and Kenya.

Nigeria's OTT Video & Cinema Revenue
Nigeria’s OTT Video & Cinema Revenue

Major production firms are making inroads into Nollywood through deals and partnerships with stakeholders to exploit untold stories and tap into what is widely believed to be the world’s second-largest film industry by volume.


As a powerhouse of African entertainment, Nigeria captivates global audiences with a vibrant music and film scene, an unrivalled cultural heritage, and a growing reputation for producing world-class artists. The country has the potential to exploit its successes, its growing clout, and the accompanying hype in music and film to build a thriving tourism ecosystem. But discourse with creative sector bigwigs easily reveals a shared opinion; the majority think Nigeria is yet to fully leverage the dividends that the country’s showbiz wins hold for the local tourism industry.


Nigeria occupies a crucial spot in global showbiz, with over 218 million in population, so its commercial nerve doubles as an entertainment industry hub that should make the country a destination for music and film business in Sub-Saharan Africa. There should be more festivals, like Flytime, and big concerts attracting foreigners to Lagos from within and outside the continent.

Afropop poster boys like Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy often report massive admissions and sell out concert spaces internationally but spread for local touring and live music on the home front beyond Lagos and Abuja is comparatively a sharp anticlimax.


Music critic Motolani Alake wrote that Wizkid and Burna Boy demand up to $700,000 and $1,000,000 for a single show as of 2022, with promoters having to satisfy their production and hospitality conditions. Their ability to sell out 20,000-capacity venues in major US cities with relative ease while making tons of revenue therefrom, he adds, elevated the performance fees of Nigerian talents into global standards.

November 2022: Wizkid in concert at Ziggo Dome Arena, Amsterdam
November 2022: Wizkid in concert at Ziggo Dome Arena, Amsterdam

One could argue that rising ticket prices for big artistes coupled with a shrinking disposable income in Nigeria are making local concerts of certain standards and scales unattractive to show organisers and, in turn, forcing high-priced performing musicians to instead prioritise foreign gigs for the forex they bring.

But there’s the long-standing discourse of purpose-built concert arenas and how many of those are available across states. Nigeria lacks proper event spaces to host big concerts. Small venues such as The New Afrika Shrine owned by the Kutis, Terra Kulture, and the outdoor space of Freedom Park in Lagos host concerts and events. But besides Eko Hotel, the state lacks top-tier venues and show production infrastructure with the capacity to showcase local or visiting international artists, a major disincentive for both organizers and talents who are losing out on real value.

Open-air arenas like the Landmark Beach or Eko Atlantic can take up to 7,000 or 10,000 in capacity while the national theatre in Lagos, which is still being refurbished, has a capacity of 5000 people. Promoters, in many cases, have to pour resources into hiring workers, spend days setting up a stage, procure their own sound equipment, and then worry about whether or not they will be able to break or make a significant profit that is worth the trouble.


“The purchasing power of concertgoers, event marketing, the venues, quality checks, the charges by the artistes, branding, and revenue for show promoters are some key elements of live music,” Alake told TheCable. “In Nigeria, local touring isn’t great right now but it’s fair to say that it is on its ascendancy.”

With a huge youth population, Nigeria already offers a domestic market that should be large enough to sustain a thriving local music ecosystem and the much more secondary tourism perks of it.

However, the media hype and other apparent signs of global success at the top, frequently conceal a deep-seating lack of structure on the domestic front that deprives many budding creatives of a clear path to climb to stardom. This makes it hard for Nigeria to produce local stars and leaves a privileged few gunning for an international break.

Alake thinks some level of regulatory grip on ticket pricing and the performance charge demanded by indigenous artists for home-front concerts could ensure that promoting shows remains a profitable venture, yet, aiding tourism. “Artists are charging an arm and a leg. Do we have a body that checks standards and makes talents understand they have to cut down their fee when throwing a concert back home, and not expect Nigerians to put together $500,000? No.”



The southeast grapples with years of tension emanating from the activity of secessionist elements that often cause a clash between proscribed groups, local vigilantes, and the state’s security forces. Imo state in the region particularly struggles with an additional kidnapping crisis where victims are abducted and made to pay ransom. States in the south-south deal with militancy. In the southwest, abductions are worsened by communal clashes.

A part of the northeast including Borno has terrorism issues and hosts the long-dreaded Boko Haram sect.

Banditry is rife in the northwest, with Sokoto and Kebbi states affected. The north central also has a share of both farmer-herder clashes and terrorist tension. All six geopolitical zones deal with their own security situations, albeit, at varying levels of intensity and spread. No entertainer would embark on major tours across these states without exhaustive security situation analysis. This adds an extra layer of cost to what is traditionally required to put shows together, where concert promoters have to constantly worry about the safety of their audience and the artiste.

Insecurity over the years etched horrid stats on Nigeria’s development indicators, dried out investment, increased unemployment, cut state revenue, and affected overall economic growth so that the country ranked as the third most insecure in the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, although later improving by only five places to rank at eighth place in 2023. This comes alongside rising poverty levels, with Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics (NBS) classifying 63% of the country’s entire population as poor in late 2022. Inflation levels are up and purchasing power is shrinking.

Map of Insecurity

This leaves promoters and invested stakeholders with an affordability problem to factor in when pricing tickets. But Folorunsho Cocker, drawing a parallel with the US, argues that Nigeria’s security crisis doesn’t pose as much threat as believed. “There’s been over 100 mass shootings in America as of today. There’s a 50-50 chance that you’ll be killed. But you give people tickets to a US concert and they won’t reject it,” the politician, who heads the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), says.

Coker argues that there’s a need to reverse the negative image of Nigeria in the global media if the quest to build out the local tourism ecosystem would work. “Foreigners assume that, as you’re sitting wherever you’re now, there’s a terrorist with an AK-47 riffle to your head. But that is not the reality. Tourism is the reward for positive things unfolding in a place where a tourist doesn’t live. They naturally move from place to place to see it if they feel safe.”

The secessionist Biafran war of the late 60s nearly erased growth recorded in Nigeria’s music sector in the preceding decade. Local touring was how indigenous music talents amassed fame and built their fandom across the country into the 70s and the 80s, ultimately exporting this soft power to countries like France and the US. An artiste generating enough buzz got funded to do multi-city shows on a tour bus. Foreign labels like Interscope and Sony had a footing in Nigeria, signing talents directly or through affiliation. “By the 90s, it got progressively worse,” says sonic artist Brymo who himself has done gigs across Nigerian cities including Lagos and Ibadan in his pan-African leaning.

Alake adds that military rule, decadence, insecurity, and other issues “nearly snuffed the life” out of people. “Some of our music majors left Nigeria. They had intellectual property issues and no freedom to create,” the critic says.

In late 2022, the two brands Balmoral Group and The Temple Company called off a festival they had planned for two years, citing safety concerns in Lagos, a state that presupposed to be largely insulated from the security crisis plaguing other regions in Nigeria. “The decision has been made based on the advice of security agents with the safety of our audiences, artists, crew, and venue staff in mind,” said both companies in a joint press statement.

Burna Boy hosted an estimated 30,000 people and over 11,000 vehicles at Eko Energy City in Lagos in early 2023 for what he himself would call an “abysmally done” show after it ended in an indiscriminate attack and assault by thugs.


The lack of a strong business structure and state backing, coupled with piracy and existing challenges, leaves Nigeria’s music industry struggling to capture significant value. It explains why South Africa, with just over 61 million people, outpaces Nigeria in revenue from recorded music.

Nigeria’s Music Revenue & Projections

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), in its 2023 global music industry report, showed that Sub-Saharan Africa beat other regions to become the fastest-growing market for recorded music in 2022, with a dramatic 34.7% revenue increase. “The era when artists from English-speaking markets dominated the global pop charts has long passed,” says Billboard’s Thom Duffy.

But according to the IFPI, this growth was driven by a sharp 31.4% boost to revenues in the region’s largest market, South Africa. South Africa is hardly able to compete with the volume of music that comes from Nigeria, considering Nigeria’s emigration profile and die-hard hustle culture aiding global visibility. However, South Africa’s more mature entertainment & media industry remains its edge over Nigeria, which has largely untapped revenue streams in publishing due to a dysfunctional royalty collection ecosystem.

To demonstrate Nigeria’s value capture problem, Burna Boy earned $1.57 million for a single concert at New York’s Maddison Square Garden in 2022. Wizkid also made $1 million performing just one time at the venue. These monies neither contribute in any significant way to Nigeria’s economy nor grow the local market beyond the hype.

A couple of top artists in Nigeria are signed to foreign music companies, Wizkid to RCA and Tiwa Savage to Universal. These companies, with limited local presence in Nigeria, operate predominantly outside the continent, command significant rights to their signee’s works, and stash away revenue in banks local to regions where they were earned.

“RCA and Sony Music monetise Wizkid’s MIL album. The money this album would’ve generated if there was a strong local industry could have belittled whatever numbers come out of South Africa,” says Alake. “Afrobeats is our biggest export now and it’s sad that we don’t own any of the IP or the Afrobeats itself.”

Coachella, which enlists Nigerian performers from time to time, and Stagecoach Festival in the US, both generate up to $704 million in economic activity for the state of California alone. Nigeria already has lots of cultural festivals that can yield significant tax revenue if well-branded. The country has great potential on the music front that could boost the country’s soft power on multiple fronts if cross-regional barriers are tackled.

In 2019, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo launched his Year of Return project, a 12-month slate of events for diasporans to reconnect with their roots and mark the 400-year anniversary of the earliest record of enslaved Africans being forced upon the Virginia shore. The homecoming aimed to attract 500,000 extra visitors. Ghana’s tourism authority revealed in 2020 that the initiative injected about $1.9 billion into the economy. Entertainers of global repute figures like Cardi B, Idris Elba, and Steve Harvey visited.

This earned Ghana a major PR that the state authorities said could have cost $3.5 million if paid for.

At a governance forum in Nairobi, Nigeria’s vice-president Yemi Osinbajo said that African leaders shouldn’t “interfere too much” in the creative sector. He said the continent’s regulatory posture for the sector is favourable as it poses no hindrance and encourages a culture of independence and self-sustenance.

But the predominant sentiment among Nigeria’s showbiz executives is with their own government doing very little to aid their operations, yet, becoming proactive in taxation matters as it affects the industry.

Obi Asika, a well-rounded entertainment and media bigwig, says it was only in 2020 that the culture industry, hospitality, and tourism (CCHT) were factored into Nigeria’s national development plan as one of the core sectors capable of driving the economy in the coming decades. Asika is among the executives leading the effort to achieve legislations that would create a framework on the basis of which Nigeria can build the sector and attract tourism dividends. “I led CCHT. We developed a plan for 2020 to 2025, the 2030 target, and the vision to 2050,” he said.

Asika argues that solving insecurity and investing in Nigeria’s global image is integral to building local tourism and its associated subsectors. He says Nigeria’s numerous cultural festivals could be “activated” into proper value-yielding brands that sell packaged experiences while the year-end homecoming in the southeast could be better communicated to attract cross-region and international tourism. “We have stunning locations. State tourist boards need to focus on building domestic experiences,” Asika adds.

The task, according to the M&E executive, is a long-term project that only private-public sector partnerships can achieve.


Music and movies embody decades of culture that could translate to value in tourism. Foreign audiences develop an interest in the traditions behind stories told in films and cultural elements highlighted in music. Nollywood and Afrobeats have undergone years of evolution and built a great deal of soft power. “How about visiting the home and the birthplace of Afrobeats?” asks artiste and film director Dare Fasasi, who argues in favour of creating and selling tourism experience off Afrobeats. “We’re making a huge mistake, the same mistake the Caribbean made with reggae. We’re at our peak now. We need to own the music.”

Africa’s rich history, movies, and music can inspire or make for great visual art sources, either in the form of sculptures, paintings, or other elements that can be displayed in state-backed art galleries. The musician Brymo, in 2022, pulled off a pivot to sonic art, which essentially makes visual representations of recorded music.

However, much of the effort in Nigeria’s art exhibition space, especially in Lagos, has been isolated and individualistic with little or no state involvement.

One option, Bolaji Alonge, an artist, notes is for state actors to significantly back curators and invest heavily in galleries and art exhibition projects, reverse the waning influence of local festivals, and drive tourist attention from these festivals to the art galleries. Festac 77 (Second Festival of Black Arts and Culture), was one catalyst. It brought over 15,000 artists, intellectuals, and performers from 55 nations across the world to Lagos.

National Theatre in Lagos During Festac 77 | Credits: Marilyn Nance

“The Calabar festival is there. The continuity started. Now it looks dead,” Alonge adds. “Now, it looks like the culture sector was left to itself. Artists go to foreign organisations for support, cap in hand, and get ignored. We need to create a viable market. It requires active state involvement and enabling policies.”

The US city of LA’s Hollywood district is located close to major film studios like Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros, and Universal. Hollywood’s influence is so significant that it became a metonym for the entire US film industry. There’s the allure of Hollywood Boulevard, iconic museums, theatres, and architectural benchmarks. Beyond film, these attract serious tourism traffic to LA, which generated a record $36.6 billion from tourism in 2019 and is projected to hit 51 million visitors in 2023. Major industries across the globe, Nollywood inclusive, easily dream to achieve a similar financial district.

In April 2023, the tourism ministry stated that it was willing to offer land to Indian investors interested in building “comprehensive” film cities in Lagos and Abuja. Proposing a stronger partnership, the ministry highlighted the Asian country’s prominence in filmmaking as the world’s largest industry by volume. Nollywood executives like Kunle Afolayan also speak of erecting elaborate structures that could serve as a “film village” in Oyo. This allows filmmakers to build out sets, cut down production costs, and could serve as a hub that will ultimately generate tourism in decades to come but the majority are hardly able to connect these dots.

Niyi Akinmolayan, movie director, thinks state governments should begin to lobby filmmakers to shoot at the tourist attractions sites under their purview, using movies as an avenue to promote these rarely abandoned locations.

The filmmaker says subsequent investments should be spread across the film value chain, beyond just production. “Our industry will grow; how soon depends on us and how much government support we get,” Akinmolayan adds.


There’s a palpable disconnect between state authorities and Nigeria’s creative sector on policymaking as they affect the music and film business. The local economy, as a result, loses out on potential revenue while the government gets to do cliché speeches only affirming the traction that the sector brings for artists, without ever getting a seat at the table. Ambitious plans and intentions are often discussed but with very limited implementation track records.

Due to this minimal interference, not much is public, beyond projections and estimates, on how much the local music scene makes. To date, the state authorities don’t provide adequate value or engagement with creatives so as to access raw data to track growth and optimize tax revenue.

Arguably, one of the low-hanging fruit is creating access to funding, especially for projects in music and film. Funding ideas, a high-risk and high-return endeavour, is relatively new in Nigeria’s creative sector, since the value involved is intangible and unpredictable, unlike investments dealing with goods.

An album or film could amount to a monumental failure on the streamers or at the box office respectively. Films could also simply take unpredictably long to yield returns depending on their distribution strategies.

This limits the funders available to these creatives and, in turn, the scope of the project. Filmmakers rely on private investors, crowdfunding, production deals, and grants to back their projects while the music front works out recording contracts, partner with labels, rely on personal funds, or seek unstructured loans.

In 2019, the CBN announced its Creative Industry Financing Initiative offering single-digit interest loans of up to ₦30 million for film production and ₦500 movie million for distribution, with a 10-year repayment timespan.

Multiple showbiz executives were contacted for insight on this fund but none among those contacted by TheCable had a colleague who has successfully accessed it. The CBN itself, when contacted, was unresponsive. Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, a renowned film critic, says the management disincentives that arise with state funders make the source a huge pipedream for producers. “In fact, nobody mentions the government whenever they discuss funding for their films now,” he adds.

There are still massive structural gaps in Nigeria’s film and music ecosystem where state authorities can create incentives for private sector investment which could include tax breaks for companies that invest in creative industries and the long-lasting solution of creating investment funds that focus on the sector.

Infrastructure like creative hubs, studios, production houses, and co-working spaces that provide access to the necessary equipment and resources for creatives to develop their work could come in handy too.

Burna Boy sells out 80,000-capacity London Stadium gig

Access to funding is an issue that impacts the kinds of stories being told in films and the slant they take. Consolidating efforts towards realising funding initiatives that include grants, loans, and venture capital funds could ensure that the film and music sectors are built and primed to generate more tax revenue. Relative state backing like tech-related local solutions for streaming and rights administration, as it affects film and music, will increase value retention and also augment tax income. Can Nigeria do what it takes to leverage the showbiz hype and build out the local tourism ecosystem? One thing is clear: there’s a long road to walk.

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