Today, all eyes are on the African music industry. Nigeria and South Africa are massive music markets taking African sounds to global stages. How do Nigerian and South African music industries compare and influence each other?

The Nigerian and South African music industries

Beyond their differences…

On the one hand, South Africa: for a long time perceived as the champion of the African music industry on the international stage – a structured music market with strong infrastructures and influential music scenes exporting talented musicians and DJs across the globe, from Hugh Masekela to Black Coffee, Moonchild or AKA. Interestingly enough though, this actually led to an industry working in isolation within the continent, being self-sufficient locally and looking at the US or Europe for international growth rather than towards its neighbouring music markets.

On the other hand, Nigeria: a strong musical history but a market where artists did not have a structured industry to support them. Today, historic labels such as Now Music or Chocolate City continue to affirm their leading role in the industry and new “pure-players”, aka companies fully dedicated to the music business and run by a growing professionalised population of executives and artists, enter the arena with a common objective of taking local genres such as Afrobeats and Afropop to international stages.midem-african-tour-cape-town

…the strength in their mutual inspiration and influence…

Indeed, as Nigeria started to structure its industry in the past couple of years, one market it has looked up to is South African music industry in order to understand the roots of its international success stories across different genres. This has fed the conversations regarding structuring and professionalization of the Nigerian music industry, as well as artist development, marketing and touring strategies.

In parallel, as a new generation of South African artists and music executives enter the business, there seems to be a shift in the direction the South African music industry is looking. The rise of markets such as Nigeria, with massive young demographics and music consumption numbers, and acts like Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi or Rema, now touring around the world has South African artists and executives looking at Nigeria for inspiration. Behind this Nigerian international takeover: extraordinary talent, a resilient industry and the power of the diaspora.

…and, when put together, the ultimate African music market?

Today, there is an eagerness from the new generation of artists and executives to grow the Nigerian and South African music industries, by strengthening the whole ecosystem to support creators and allow fruitful international collaborations to take place, all the while making the most out of digital tools and streaming to reach new audiences, both in the continent and beyond. As these music markets grow, so do the opportunities for more sustainable touring routes within the continent and new monetisation models.

Of course, key issues still need to be addressed in each of these music markets: from bridging the gap in investment in infrastructure, to building a sustainable ecosystem around the artists and a transparent and fair remuneration of the whole value chain.

However, one could argue that, by combining South Africa’s structured industry and strong infrastructure with the power of Nigeria’s diaspora and new business models adapted to local realities and both their talented music scenes, we could reach a true model for other African music markets, to draw inspiration and add their own layers of success.

And it seems this is already the case in East Africa for example, where Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are making moves to take their very own “Bongo Flava” to global audiences, in the footsteps of their South African and Nigerian inspirations.



In 2018, Midem launched the Midem African Forum, an initiative aimed at participating in the structuring and professionalization of Sub-Saharan music markets and creating bridges between artists and executives from the continent and the world.

From Lagos (Nigeria) to Johannesburg (South Africa), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Brazzaville (Congo), Dakar (Senegal) and Douala (Cameroon), Midem has organized 9 one day-events across 7 cities in the continent, as well as built a dedicated programme during its flagship event in Cannes, with ambassadors such as Femi Kuti, Maleek Berry, Yemi Alade and Davido.

After bringing the African Forum to Lagos (Nigeria) and Cape Town (South Africa) in association with Boomplay and Trace TV, in February 2020, Midem is gearing up to create the most exciting follow-up to these events.

Stay tuned for the next step!


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