Challenges in African popular music business
Ulrike Luttenberger, University of Leipzig/ German Historical Institute Paris and Center for Research on Social Policies, (CREPOS), Dakar
Dr. Hauke Dorsch, African Music Archives, Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz
This panel explores current developments in African popular music business. We will focus on challenges and opportunities regarding digitalisation, music piracy and copyrights.
African popular music is a growing market, both within the continent, and outside Africa. International collaborations between, for example, renowned Nigerian with famous US American singers, continue to contribute to the promotion of African artists. However, this current success of the African popular music business comes with serious challenges:
In most African countries, music piracy has a huge impact, minimizing the income of the musicians and producers, which in some countries can lead to the closing of music related infrastructure like music studios. However, piracy and illegal streaming might also help to make an artist known.
In this context, the challenge of digitalisation could be boon and bane - new paths in music consumption, like streaming and downloading, have the potential to provide a better legal framework and encourage music consumers to pay for songs. On the other hand, illegal download and distribution may again jeopardise revenues for artists.
Also related to this issue are challenges concerning copyrights: Are the laws concerning the latter enforced and known by the persons concerned? Are collecting societies existing and operational? Do the artists know about them and how to use them to claim their rights? Are copyrights a support for musicians, a bureaucratic nuisance, or simply irrelevant? Or, from another perspective, does the Western concept of copyrights apply in African contexts and if so, is it successfully implemented? And if not, what alternatives to the Western model may African societies offer?
This panel is looking for contributions from different disciplines, such as anthropology, economics, musicology, history, law, sociology etc., which address the diverse challenges in music business mentioned above with regard to different regions and music styles. This will allow for a broad perspective on the subject to better understand the multiple challenges faced in African popular music business.