How the Covid-19 Lockdown Changed Music Streaming in Nigeria 

Writer: Ayomide Oriowo, Femi Adeniran

December 18th, 2020

Music streaming in Nigeria has never been more popular than it is now and a major cause of this is the Covid-19 lockdown. We are here now – tens of millions of songs at the tip of our fingers, accessed legally and seamlessly.   The history of Nigerian music is filled with piracy and illegal music consumption, even aided by the very artistes themselves at some point who had no choice than to embrace the realities of the country. While downloading music was a way for consumers to free themselves of constraint of radio and music TV channels, streaming was not always an option for the majority.  Covid-19 struck, we all got stuck at home and artistes needed to earn directly from their music. But how big of a change was the lockdown on music streaming in Nigeria?  A big one.  Apple Music NG Apple Music subscribers in Nigeria almost doubled between Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020. A growth of almost 100% in paid subscribers attests to the growth of music streaming in the country. This is even more remarkable considering Apple Music is a paid-subscription DSP with a well-documented history of frustration in signing up. Nigerians were willing to fund a friend’s account to pay for the monthly subscription, even it meant splitting the family subscription cost six ways.  A big benefactor of the pandemic boost is Omah Lay’s Get Layd, which had most of its run during the lockdown and the period in which lockdown restrictions were eased. The result? 4 out of 5 tracks on the EP sit comfortably in the top 15 songs of the year on Apple Music NG.    YouTube NG  ![]( The graph shows five groups of nine-week period showing consumption pattern before the Covid-19 lockdown, during the Covid-19 lockdown and after the Covid-19 lockdown. There was a steady growth on YouTube NG throughout the year. In fact, there was more YouTube views in every succeeding 9-week period than the last. It is important to note that this coincided with the release of major albums such as Twice as Tall, Carpe Diem and Made in Lagos. However, other artistes such as Patoranking, Laycon, Mercy Chinwo, Hamisu Breaker also had a boost during and after the Covid-19 lockdown. Audiomack  American streaming platform, Audiomack, has found a home in Africa, and Nigerian songs reign supreme on the platform.  The trio of Davido & Popcaan’s “Risky,” Dj Neptune’s “Nobody” and Omah Lay’s “Bad Influence” have held the distinction of being the all-time most-streamed Nigerian song on Audiomack. The latter two were released in 2020 while the former had 62% of its total streams in 2020. The platform accounted for 30.88% of Made In Lagos first-month streams (the biggest share of all platforms), it accounted for 28.63% of Twice as Tall first-month streams (the biggest share of all platforms), it accounted for 44.70% of A Better Time’s first-month streams (the biggest share of all platforms), and it accounted for 57.5% of 'Get Layd’s' first 120 million streams (the biggest share of all platforms). That’s how important Audiomack has become to music streaming in Nigeria.  A look at the Audiomack numbers of some of the biggest songs in the country pre-Covid and post-Covid shows just how much of a change the lockdown period was; Mayorkun's "Geng," arguably the biggest song of pre-covid 2020 era has 4.88 million streams plus another less than 2 million streams from its remix EP. Cheque's "Zoom" has 15.6 million streams on the platform. Bella Shmurda, Zlatan & Lincoln's "Cash App" has 13.9 million streams. Mayorkun's very own "Betty Butter" has 13.3 million streams. All three songs had most of their run after the Covid-19 lockdown. Sarz & WurlD's "MAD," another song that enjoyed most of its run before the Covid-19 lockdown has 8.5 million streams. Naira Marley & Young Jonn's "MAFO" has 5.75 million streams while Naira Marley's post-Covid lockdown release "As E Dey Go" has 11.4 million streams. Evidently, there is a clear disparity between the numbers of the biggest songs before and after the lockdown. While Audiomack might not pay as much as other DSPs, it is still the most representative of Nigerian music. It also accounts for a huge share of the streaming numbers in the country, which is proof of just how important it is. Boomplay  Boomplay is one of the oldest music streaming platforms in the country, having entered the market in 2015. It has freemium and subscription-based services where you can enjoy access to millions of tracks in the extensive catalog of the platform.  A quick comparison of the top songs and top albums from 2019 and 2020 tells you just how fast the market has grown in just a year. “Uyo Meyo” ranked at No. 2 on Boomplay Top Songs 2019 – it has 2 million streams now. There are at least ten songs released in 2020 with more streams than “Uyo Meyo” on the platform  Burna Boy’s African Giant ranked as No. 4 on Boomplay Top Albums 2019 and has 16.5 million streams; Burna Boy’s 2020 release, Twice as Tall has almost twice that figure, 30.3 million streams.  Reality  Regardless of how big a game-changer the lockdown was for music streaming in Nigeria, the streaming population in Nigeria is still within the conscious 5% of the entire population.  The economic crash that came with the lockdown and the ensuing inflation from the border closure means that music streaming remains a disposable luxury for 95% of Nigerians. The existence of download platforms and straightforward peer-to-peer music-sharing system (at no cost) is more attractive for a lot of Nigerians. The reality is that the country is still a long way from having a market where artistes can solely depend on streaming revenue. But we are getting there. Tidal recently entered the music streaming market in Nigeria and its partnership with MTN solves several issues faced by other DSPs in the country. Rumors of Spotify entrance continue to grow every day and the entrance of the biggest streaming platform in the world can only point at one thing – there is streaming potential in the most populous black nation with a median age of 17.5 and people between the ages of 18-35 years making up 65% of the population. 

Want updates straight into your Inbox?

Enter your name and email to get the latest news from the TurnTable team, and in-depth knowledge into music and the numbers behind them.