How The Twitter Ban Affected Nigerian Musicians

by Alewa House, published 1 year ago

The impact of social media on the music industry in Nigeria is so evident. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are arguably on the forefront of this evolution. How did we arrive here? You may want to ask. Well, these social media platforms have given artists the platforms to reach out directly to their teeming fans, intimate them with their(artistes) latest projects which includes album launch, collaborations, shows, guest appearances, promotions, and even award nominations. To a very large extent, a musician’s fanbase and reach can now be assessed using his/her followership on any of the social media handles. Of all these social media platforms, Twitter seems to stand out, being the most preferred( of course arguably) social media platform of celebrities especially musicians.

Twitter has over 39 million estimated users in Nigeria; majority of whom are made up of mostly university graduates, a greater percentage of the middle class, the tech savvy populace, and most importantly, 90% youths. Most celebrities in Nigeria fall into this category hence, they’re quite active on Twitter and have a cult-like dedicated community of followers on twitter. Community of followers like WizkidFC, 30BG, OdogwuFC are well known in the Nigerian Twitter space. Twitter has given them a platform to tweet at their favorites, comment on their tweets, like their tweets, share their tweets, or chat with them directly. However, on June 5, 2021, the Nigerian Twitter community woke up to the shocking news flash! The federal government of Nigeria was said to have suspended the operations of Twitter in the country sighting sundry reasons. Though the ban was lifted 222 days later, after a fruitful negotiation between the twitter management and the federal government of Nigeria, many experts have come out to analyse the extent of the damage the ban did on Nigeria’s economy as a whole. Netblocks Cost of Shutdown Tools, which uses the classic Free Digital App GDP impact technique estimated that Nigeria’s economy lost $250,600 every hour due to the Twitter ban. The A4AI (Alliance For Affordable Internet) Nigeria on the other hand said the Twitter ban created a loss of $1.2billion for Nigeria’s economy.

Nigerian Music remains one of the biggest exports of Nigeria in recent times. Therefore, In this article, we at Alewa House examine the impact of the Twitter ban on the average Nigerian musician who uses the platform to create and promote his/her contents, as well as engage followers, fans and partners alike. It is not a hidden fact that musicians in Nigeria, just like their counter-pacts in other parts of the world, have been using twitter as an avenue for self-branding, music promotions, campaigns and engagements. Much of their digital products, endorsements, streaming links, and links for buying their show tickets are also promoted or made public via their Twitter handles. Therefore, it is safe to say that much of their revenues, too, come directly or indirectly via Twitter. Twitter was doing an estimated N7 Billion in revenues monthly for its Nigerian Tweeps - mostly Tech Start-ups, SMEs, value vendors, digital marketers, e-commerce platforms, other content creators such as musicians. Twitter has been proven to be a platform that helps musicians grow their brands and fanbase. It gives musicians an opportunity to run most of their PR by themselves which translates to lesser expenses but yet, wider reach to a global audience. The use of hashtags and high trends generated through retweets, likes and shares have been able to draw global attention to most Nigerian musicians and their music through Twitter. Voting for award nominations for both local and international awards by their fan base was made easier; thanks to Twitter. Hence, the ban on Twitter was a blow to the free flow of these interrelated activities made possible by Twitter.

Twitter, being a micro-blogging social media site, has a personal feel. It gives an artist a form of connection to his followers. Every tweet matters, whether a cryptic tweet or a straightforward one, it is received by the targeted audience. Twitter seems to be the most potent avenue these musicians pass their raw messages without the usual PR tweaks and twists. And that is why their fans follow them religiously on their handles to get their undiluted thoughts, get updates on their latest music and buy them, buy memorabilia associated with them, buy products they promote including fashion pieces, and also to transact with companies who these very musicians promote or associate with. Therefore, it is evident that the ban or to put it mildly, the suspension did a lot of damage to the revenue streams of Nigerian musicians, it also whittled down their influence and stunted the growth of their brands within the period of the ban.

On the flip side, some industry watchers and experts believe that the ban had little or no negative impact on Nigerian musicians and their craft. In fact, the ban gave them an opportunity to concentrate on building their brands, work on their international acceptability and revenues on other social media and music streaming platforms which they argued, culminated into a lot of international collaborations, sold out international tours, endorsements and even award nominations and winnings. Many of them grew their subscriber base and followers on their YouTube channels, Facebook channels, Instagram which translated to more revenues from their digital contents alone; all these, without twitter!.

But the question is, why is Twitter this important especially to musicians? Well, Chris Roley (Editor of CD baby’s DIY Musician Blog) gives us three reasons why Twitter wields a considerable advantage over other social media platforms. According to Roley, there are three distinct things Twitter lets musicians do that they cannot do on other platforms:

  1. They can post links without hurting their reach. It basically means that, unlike some platforms like Instagram that don’t allow external links in posts or others like Facebook that downgrade posts if it has off-platform links, Twitter allows musicians to add links to their tweets, links to streaming platforms, YouTube channels, websites, etc. These links will also open right up within Twitter so as to enable users’ engagements and possible feedback.
  2. It enables them to post as frequently as they want without hurting their reach. The frequency of one’s posts on some social media platforms can make their posts less likely to be seen by their followers. But one’s tweets and updates are not time barred with regards to views by your followers(fans). A fresh tweet does not overshadow the previous.
  3. It allows musicians to support others without hurting their reach. A musician or artiste can like, share, retweet a tweet of another artist as a form of support or promotion of his/her work without much notice and still without hurting his/her own reach in the process. However, it would still get much needed publicity and coverage.

These unique features are not present on YouTube, Instagram and to some extent, Facebook. Twitter is a converging pot of some sort. It brings every platform under one umbrella, allows for direct engagements, not just feedback, which is also not available to these musicians on most of these other platforms. In fact, a survey carried out found that most celebrities that give their social media handles out to be managed by their PR teams, mostly do not include their Twitter accounts. That says a lot!.

In conclusion, revenues accrue to musicians through the use of their music(intellectual property) by these social media platforms (Twitter inclusive) and a ban on any of them can only dwindle the revenues or even stop it entirely. It is therefore a relief to finally have Twitter back . Let the “gbas gbos” begin again!

Written by Chisimdi Agube

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We Need an “Elbow Room”: An Appraisal of Younglan’s "Elbow Room"

by Alewa House, published 1 year, 1 month ago

There is a philosophical argument which proposes that man is a product of his surroundings. The notion argues that the sum of man’s decisions, actions and inclinations are innately imprinted by the impressions he/she has witnessed. Although the counter argument proposes that some persons can transcend the complicated social conditioning of their society. It is inherently difficult to outrun the impact of the experiences that one has grown accustomed to.

Poetry has a way of baring out our impressions of the society. It is a channel that expresses the deepest sense of our vulnerability, our strengths, our fears and even our love. But sometimes, a poetic piece has the power to transport us into a place where we can both reflect and introspect on the choices, the experiences and the decisions that have led us to the moment that we are in.

Younglan’s “Elbow Room” begins with the familiar angst of a character in contradiction. The contradiction arises from the most familiar of places.

The human desire to navigate the pitfalls of the emotions of love and hate.

“Everything you seem to love now

You might just end up hating

And everything you seem to hate now

You might just end up loving

So I am hating the President now,

So that I might just love him later”

Across these few lines, a deeper story unravels.

It is a story that lays its soul bare over the rest of the poem.

A story of the contradictions of man’s experiences.

An experience which in some ways; has grown accustomed to the futility of the system.

When Younglan discourses the society in the way it projects its values, he replays the very plot of the sad society that we are immersed in. He discusses a society where hardwork is constantly being preached, but in hindsight; the most successful individuals are the persons who are steeped in the less than stellar ways of politics.

The contradiction in the experience is thus; while the politicians live a life that is different from the one the masses experience, the masses still lie in awe of the politician who continues to pillage the values of the masses. The politician has no restraint. His lack of restrain, by default creates a sublet of identities. It creates the “collaborators” who are content to wallow in fear and live in the status quo. The second group is the one he describes as the ones that might become “monsters.”

There are other contradictions within the story of the Have and Have Nots that he projects.

For instance, when he talks about getting guns, his answer is thus,

“But if we all get guns

Then we all might be gone soon”

Or when he talks about the state of the poor, he says

“The earth has had enough of the poor man’s blood

These days, it regurgitates it even,

For it thirsts for the blood of these bloodthirsty politicians, so”

Up until this point in the poem, the biggest question had been what direction the poet wanted the story to go to. The end goal was not to just offer up the state of contradictions within our society, or to just highlight the experiences of the masses who suffer inexhaustible hardships while politicians loot, pillage and walk away.

The end goal was something more subtle.

A certain kind of defiance that wiggles its way out of a dilemma.

Younglan projects himself as an outsider on the inside of a society that offers him as much contradictions as the one he battles within himself.

When he plays within the fringes of love and hate at the beginning of the poem, he found himself choosing to decide upon a route that will end in an outcome that feels the most secure.

His decision is to approach the tougher end of the contradiction first.

His experience and the nature of the society he has grown in, makes this a herculean task.

But it is a task he can maneuver because he has found a way.

The way, and in the end, the “safe space”, lies in the manifestation of the people.

Ever since I listened to the poem; my greatest question had been what the elbow room was.

The truth is, the “elbow room” is a free scope. An adequate space for work or operation; when it comes down to it, the “elbow room” is every individual deciding to choose what side of the contradiction they will prefer.

What Younglan has succeeded in showcasing is the binary of society, where action and consequence is deeply visible.

This is the part of the story that we sometimes fail to see. Every line of the poem is in constant conflict with the next because every line is a consequence of the next action. The politician, the collaborator, the masses who may become monsters, they are all deep psychological products of the society that they are familiar with. Their actions and decisions, whether dictated by love or hate, remains inherently dependent on the experiences that they witness.

The impact of that decision will decide how every individual unites under a common protest, a common election. The revolution in the end is for the common man.

The man in the streets may feel imprisoned by the way of his society. That is only for a while. He/she will find his/her free scope. And when he/she does, the revolution will be as they always say “televised.”

“Elbow Room” is not a typical poem that allows you to be outside of the experience. It drags you in because it speaks of a familiar space that we all understand.

From the moment Edge Golbador’s Falsetto warms over the sweet chords at the beginning, and he wails those enchanting cries, you are drawn into the experience that suggest that whatever is being said requires your mind to be at peace.

The society we survive in is burning into its nadir.

From the deepest hooks of oppression, we must find an elbow room to move into our own truths.

Maybe this piece is a rallying call to us all.

What is your elbow room?

Reviewed by Elijah Abuni Peter

Listen or download Elbow Room by Younglan for free.

Younglan's Elbow Room Poem: Review by Lengdung Tungchamma

by Alewa House, published 1 year, 1 month ago

I have always believed that great poetry should be the voice of reason.

When men lacked the language to communicate what they hold in their hearts, they resort to poetry.

Younglan's Elbow Room is a touring poem. Its title is misplaced. If I would name this poem, I would call it "Khadiija's Voice". Khadija being an unknown protester that joined in the #EndSars protest of 2020.

Elbow Room is a rejection. A rejection of our politics, our politicians, our system of governance, and our values. When he said "Look at us now, we are monsters", he could have been referring to the unprecedented, deadly, looting that happened during the lockdowns. Do you know, no one was killed during the main #EndSars protest in Jos, but that at least 3 people died at the warehouse where plateau citizens were looting?

We broke down the roofs of the structure, destroyed the gate, stole useless metals and went face to face with soldiers that had guns. We had become monsters.

But it is the making of selfish politicians, pot bellied big for nothing men that have denied us our rights and refused us the right to complain or cry. "An ordinary councilor in Tudun Wada has 6 cars", all bought with our tax payers money. When the new Councillor of Jenta Adamu came on board about 4 years ago, the first thing he did was to get a new car.

Yet every politician claims to be working for "your interest", the "voice of the masses", and to be worried about your plight. At least, when the election comes. Lies.

The touring thing in Younglan's poem is the hope. He lays his hope in the youths, that we will vote for the kind of society we want, and if our votes are rigged, we will vote again. And we will vote again. "Until the revolution becomes you and me".

A great poem should not end without hope. It should offer a vision. A dream. This one does that.

My only criticism of this work is that it was too short. Too short to say everything. But on a second thought, poetry should be short and mystical!

I expected to hear Edge Golbador say something, his voice was soothing but the absence of any words was disappointing.

There are very few poets in this city, Younglan is one of those. I'm always delighted by his work! Always. Dear Jos, you are blessed. Relish your greatness!

May we become the revolution.

You can find the poem here.

Much respect to Alewa House! This poem was neat. All your work has been neat.

Elbow Room review by Lengdung Tungchamma