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WurlD makes a mark with his latest EP, ‘AFROSOUL’



All month, WurlD has been clearing space for the reception of his third project in the span of one year, with the release of singles to whet appetites for some AFROSOUL. First came the TMXO-produced “Love Nobody”, an impassioned confessional where he sets out the parameters he needs from a relationship, which was followed up with the Spax-produced “Ghost Town”, a slower-paced vibe where he shares game with whoever’s listening to focus on the right things.

While “LOVE NOBODY” isn’t as heavy on the lyrics, the intricacy of the mid-tempo EDM beat makes you feel the weight of WurlD’s sparse lyrics explaining what he needs out of his mutually selfish romantic affair. Contrarily on “GHOST TOWN”, which is characterised mostly by the life lessons the lyrics teach, the sombre beat Spax lays down leaves room for WurlD’s lyrical ability to take centre stage, warning anyone who’s listening about the dangers of complacency. He starts off singing “Losing, never lost sight, learning never lost time”, setting the pace for the game he’s about to teach on the rest of the song, showing off his self-awareness by demanding exactly what he wants out of life and stating how he’s going to get it.

Listening to the project will make you go from inadvertently bopping your head to deeping your life in one fell swoop. Sometimes, songs like the opener, “NATIONAL ANTHEM (GROWING WINGS)” gets you to do both. Where ‘Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call, obey’ fits the status quo perfectly, WurlD singing ‘Dem go try, but they can’t divide us/Dem throw stones, but it never go touch us’ against a bass-heavy beat with pulsating drums seems more fitting to a generation of young Nigerians who have clocked the puzzle and refuse to be trapped by their environment. Followed by the aforementioned “GHOST TOWN”, which tells you how to, if you haven’t yet, this message is driven home even more.

Having grown up in Atlanta, WurlD started off making music in the States, with affiliation to artists such as B.O.B, Trinidad James and others, however, back home in Nigeria was where his heart was. It shows in the music, with his intonation and use of Nigerian colloquy, and on the project, songs like “STORY” & “WAYO (KPE LE WU)” segue nicely into WurlD speaking about matters of the heart. In these tracks, he carefully combs through his emotions using familiar situations and presents the tension in a manner which show’s he’s seeking clarity more than resolve. His love songs deal more about the intricacies of his relationships with detailed explanations about what he’s feeling, and whether it’s a declaration of love or description of an agonising heartbreak, the project benefits from his intricate songwriting.

On “STORY”, the romantic air from “LOVE NOBODY” appears short-lived, and WurlD seems to be sent into a brooding melancholy, wondering why he’s been left in the dark. “Why you no dey call me anymore? Why you no dey text me? I feel lonely oh. Why you no dey find? I dey lonely O”, he sings narrating the effects of his lover’s negligence, despite his availability to receive love from her. He continues to seek more understanding of what he’s feeling on the next track, “WAYO” where he’s still hopeful for a lasting relationship but is receiving dispassionate companionship in return. “Anything you want, I want. Any time you call, I show. You know what I need and more”, he sings against the rich slow-tempo Kel-P composition, showing that although WurlD is still in pain he’s reaffirming his blind commitment and warns his lover not to “use me do Wayo o”.

On each track on AFROSOUL, WurlD remains self-assured – even when in pain – and throughout the project, he’s stating clear parameters for what he wants out of his interactions with the world. “CAN’T COME OUTSIDE” brings everything full circle, where he seems to have given up on the relationship, bringing in themes of isolation and distance, which bring about a strange and eerie relatability (considering that we really can’t go outside). It seems as though his inability to be physically present with his lover has driven an irreparable wedge between them, yet he still maintains that she’s always in his heart and that he will always be hers. While he’s come to terms with the reality of his situation, he stays grounded in what he knows, communicating with melodic chants against the intricate beat laid down by Del-B. 

The 7-track project houses a diverse range of sounds, however, still manages to be cohesive in presenting themes of self-awareness, romance, heartbreak, survival and perseverance. Much like the pre-released singles, the songs on the EP can be categorised to present the two main things WurlD’s music represents; innate musicality and vocal dexterity. This is on par with the course of him music as we know it, from when we initially took note of him with singles such as “Show You Off” and “Contagious”, which introduced us to his inimitable sound that he’s only familiarised us more with it since. With three projects in the span of one year, it feels like his first; ‘Love Is Contagious’ introduced us to his sound, his collaborative project with Sarz; ‘I Love Girls With Trobul’ familiarised us a bit more with what he had to offer, and now with ‘AFROSOUL’, he’s making his mark.

What marks the difference between the previously released projects and this one, is the pace, which is fitting to the time he’s released it in. His music is usually introspective, however, AFROSOUL  shines with WurlDs ability to convey his conscious knowledge of himself, which is much needed in these perilous times. While the listening experience is delicate and smooth in his typical manner, the content is heavy and deep-seated, presenting an interesting journey into the heart of a young Nigerian man who is ditching the pretence and machismo and laying his shit bare. 


How East African Musicians Are Generating Revenue Today



As the world continues to embrace technology, and with the current state of quarantine in so many countries, musicians are in a constant search for new and better streams of income. In East Africa, artists and companies are looking to tap into a tech-savvy, smartphone-connected population of around 537 million people through several pathways.

Ahead of the MIDEM digital panel conversation on Reinventing Monetisation Sources in East Africa, which we will be moderating, we spoke with the panelists: Tanzanian star Vanessa Mdee, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa and Swahili nation Founder Cleopatra Mukula, and Mdundo‘s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange, and also hear from insider voices like Nairobi-based Camille Stormto get their takes on income options for artists in East Africa.

The best way for East African artists to make money right now—given the current situation

“Currently the best way is to monetize off of digital content and brand endorsements,” says star singer-songwriter Vanessa Mdee. “Beyond concerts, artists in East Africa make most of their revenue on social media and off of their music streaming platforms. However being a brand ambassador is the most lucrative means of making revenue aside from the above mentioned.”

Locking in partnerships with brands is a point that comes up a lot throughout our discussions with the group. Vanessa herself has had numerous deals with the likes of Samsung Tanzania, Doffi washing powder and others, as do all major artists in the region.

Mdundo’s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange.
Photo courtesy of Mdundo.

“It’s a positive thing that artists are monetizing through their partnerships with brands,” says Cleopatra Mukula of TRACE. “Thank god for endorsements, that check goes a long way during this current situation, and most of the artists that I’ve spoken to say that. Some companies have started to do digital concerts sponsored by brands. Some of the brands in Uganda have been even sponsoring artists to do indoor concerts, all well controlled, but I can’t say names.”

But what can up-and-coming artists who can’t secure lucrative deals with brands do? “The obvious way is endorsements and brand ambassadors, but even then it’s the top 10 artists per country [getting them], specially those known in recent times,” weighs in Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo.

“It would be great to see more artists working with brands that want some impact on social media to do monetized live streams and the like,” adds Camille Storm, founder of the Nairobi-based creative agency Camille & Co. and current OkayAfrica contributor. “Beyond that I would say a big source of income is digital ringtone downloads.”

“What I love about artists from the East is that we like to think about smart ways of monetizing our business,” mentions Mukula, “If we look at Vanessa Mdee, she’s not just an artist but an entrepreneur. She has merch and a record label—that keeps a smart ecosystem. You’re not just making revenue from live shows but also supporting other artists and monetizing through the collective. Merch has been a big one. Quite a few artists have merch in the East. A Pass, Diamond Platnumz has his media/record label, Ali Kiba has partnered with brands.”

Streaming & online service options for East African artists

“The future is in data and East Africa has that,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The East African algorithm and ecosystem actually drives lots of business for artists in the East and lots of Africa. Africa has 1.2 billion people. A minimum of 75% are on smartphones. Look at the data. The majority are 35-years-old and under. This is a demographic that consumes music. For East Africa, you have a population 537 million. In Nairobi, 80% of people have a smartphone.”

“East Africa like most of Africa is filled with Android users and the most popular music platform for the consumer has been Boomplay,” adds Vanessa Mdee. “Apple Music only recently became available for the music consumer in East Africa even though iOS/Apple products have been in use for years.”

“The generally cheaper data prices in East Africa (especially Tanzania) could see music on these platforms do super well as it has on Youtube for example,” mentions Camille Storm.

Cleopatra Mukula, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa
Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Mukula.

The mobile-web based music service Mdundo has been operating in East Africa and beyond for close to eight years. It offers songs for free downloads and streaming directly from their website and Android app. “We’re predominantly a digital music service available as a web download and streaming app. We have 5 million users on a monthly basis and work with 50 thousand artists signed directly to our platforms,” explains Wanjiku Koinange, “but we also have partnerships with Believe, Tunecore and others.”

“We create an option for users to be able to stream, an option for low income users on the digital space, people who have very basic phones or smartphones. We’re trying to get all the music available on the catalog for free. Piracy is the number one thing we have to fight.” Any user searching for “download Sauti Sol” on Google, for example, will see Mdundo’s site in the top results. The company cites that it now has 7.2 million users in Tanzania, 7.1 million users in Kenya, and 5.4 million in Nigeria, 3.4 million in South Africa and more across the continent.

Streaming giants like Apple Music and American companies like Audiomack are also looking to the region. “Apple Music recently just expanded to Tanzania and are super interested in setting up closer relationships with more East African acts and labels,” mentions Camille Storm. “Audiomack also shows a lot of support for East Africa with their playlists and promotions. It would be great for East African artists to hop on these opportunities to learn and grow to get on par with the rest of the world in terms of roll-out strategies for their music on these streaming platforms for maximum impact as well.”

Build from within or look towards streaming giants?

“We have for a while tried to support and work with national/local streaming companies like Mkito, Mdundo, Mzikii, however the Chinese Boomplay and American Audiomack have been the most popular amongst the masses because of their ease on consumers as well as their availability to Android users,” explains Vanessa Mdee. “The consistency for consumer and artist with the local streaming platforms has been unstable over the years hence why the dependency on the more developed streaming companies.”

Vanessa Mdee.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo has this to say: “We are learning from Apple and Spotify but we also understand that the systems that allow them to exist, like royalty collections, are not necessarily what we have here. In Kenya, for example, we don’t use credit cards/debit cards as often, we have the mobile money. So for these companies, if they’re trying to get into this market, the cost would be big. I don’t know if it would make sense. They could cater to the top income earning population that do have credit cards or do the required subscription payments.”

“I do think the solution will come from within and what I imagine will happen will be to tailor a product similar to services like ours (Mdundo, Boomplay),” Wanjiku adds. “The solutions will come faster from within. The model of Mdundo has changed a bit throughout the years and it’s focused on the app and changed our product market.”

“I think the whole of Africa in general needs to build from within first,” agrees Camille Storm. “There’s a lot that we need to do that can’t be fixed overnight by major companies or international record labels coming in. We can’t look to them for all the answers but I think international companies coming in to invest in the East African music industry would be beneficial and it’s something that is bound to happen anyway. But for them to effectively work with us or invest in us we also have to have made more progress in terms of creating a system that really works on the ground with regards to functioning labels and creative agencies, charting systems, and royalty collection and payments.”

“An option could be that big players come in to the market and find smart people to adapt DSP services locally,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The smart players will understand that for you to really work with East Africa you have to understand the culture, the people and find ways of dealing with a demographic that’s sustainable on its own.”

– Kam Tambini/Okay Africa

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Munyaradzi Chanetsa Appointed As A&R Manager At Sony/ATV Music Publishing



Sony/ATV Music Publishing South Africa has appointed Munyaradzi Chanetsa as its Africa A&R manager with effect from 1 June.

Chanetsa joins Sony/ATV SA from the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) where he served as head of licensing since March-April 2019. Before CAPASSO, he was head of operations at Content Connect Africa where he also assumed the role of managing director for Content Connect Ghana and Content Connect International. Chanetsa also served as the head of marketing and promotions in South Africa for New York label Putumayo World Music.

He will be responsible for finding new talent throughout the continent, promoting songwriters’ copyright and careers, and connecting them with bigger opportunities. He will also work closely work with his Sony/ATV colleagues to pitch new and existing repertoire to the marketplace.

“I have worked with Munyaradzi previously and I have no doubt we have a person here who brings with him dedication, passion and experience, which is key as we expand our publishing business across the continent,” Sony/ATV South Africa managing director Rowlin Naicker said.

Details of Chanetsa’s appointment come after Sony/ATV SA partnered last week with his previous employer, Content Connect Africa, on a deal that will seek to expand the label’s publishing services.

“I am joining a great team of talented people who share my passion, and I just cannot wait to see what we can all achieve together,” Chanetsa said.

Sony/ATV international president Guy Henderson said: “We are excited to work with him to achieve our goals. Munyaradzi is a creative talent with vast experience and a perfect fit for our company and its creative ambitions. With Munyaradzi’s position in the creative community both in South Africa and across the African continent, he will be a great addition to our global team.”

Chanetsa is a well-known music executive in Africa with more than 10 years of A&R and licensing experience. He has engaged mobile and online platforms, independent record labels, artists and music publishers. He has also been a featured presenter on music copyright at leading forums and conferences in South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

– Ano Shumba/

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Awards and Ceremoinies

BET Awards To Celebrate 2 Decades Virtually On June 29



The BET Awards will move forward with its 2020 edition this year, albeit virtually. Celebrating the network’s 40th anniversary, and the Awards’ 20 years on the air, top stars in black entertainment, sports and philanthropy will appear on Sunday, June 28 via “innovative techniques and artist-generated content,” BET revealed on May 20.

The three-day BET Experience, which has taken place in Los Angeles as a lead-up to the big night, has been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will return in 2021. Refunds are available with the cancelation.

Nominations will be announced on a later date. Overseeing the BET Awards is Connie Orlando, evp specials, music programming and music strategy at BET, who also serves as executive producer along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment.

“The BET Awards are a seminal event – the biggest celebration of Black culture, Black accomplishment, Black excellence, and Black potential,” said Scott Mills, president of BET. “Our community, and the many millions who love Black culture, look to the BET Awards for signature moments of enrichment, entertainment and empowerment.  Recognizing the unique role the BET Awards plays for so many, and the challenging times we find ourselves in, we know it was more important than ever to deliver the BET Awards in 2020.”

“At BET, we place the health and safety of attendees, staff, vendors, and partners first, which is why the biggest night in black entertainment will go on implementing this innovative production direction,“ added Orlando. “For the past 20 years, The BET Awards have paid homage to all things now and relevant. Despite the challenges of today, we will deliver a show filled with larger than life, inspiring, empowering and entertaining moments, which have shown the magic of our culture for over two decades.”

The 2019 awards featured appearances by Cardi B, Lil Nas X (pictured), Migos and Tyler Perry, among others, and was hosted by Regina Hall.

BET is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc.

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BRYAN THE MENSAH Announces 4th EP, Drops This June



After the young Ghana Artiste hit over 300,000 streams on his EP “I DON’T FEEL LIKE GOING OUTSIDE” which dropped on February 2020, BRYAN has announced via twitter he will be dropping a follow up this June.


Looks like the Contemporary young act that takes his yellows and greens very serious when it comes to his branding is preparing to give his fans a treat as we’ve noticed a facelift on his website and is preparing to release new merchandise alongside his New EP.

Let’s see what the King of Tea BRYAN THE MENSAH brings this time.

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