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#NECLIVE: Position paper from inaugural Nigerian Entertainment Conference

By Our Editorial Board

Chris Ubosi, Kola Oyeyemi, Amaka Igwe and Keke Ogungbe were all speakers at the inaugural edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference

Chris Ubosi, Kola Oyeyemi, Amaka Igwe and Keke Ogungbe were all speakers at the inaugural edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference

POSITION PAPER from inaugural Nigerian Entertainment Conference (#NECLIVE) held in Lagos on April 26 2013.

• The maiden edition of NEC held in Lagos, 26 April 2013 and created a platform to initiate holistic conversations among the industry’s practitioners, talents, interested parties and investors of the sector.

• Sessions at the conference covered various sectors of the industry including Music, Nollywood, Business of entertainment, Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

• This year’s edition has now been announced to hold on Wednesday April 23, 2014.

The Nigeria Entertainment Industry is evolving. The industry has a strong potential to contribute unequivocally to the GDP of Nigeria alongside other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, if proper structures and policies are put in the right perspective to support it.

The media industry is valued at $650m; the music industry at about $105 million (SMW 2013) and Nollywood at almost 100 billion Naira. The monetary figures portend to increase over time when adequate financial tools are implemented to track and interpret earnings in the industry.

It was identified that uniqueness of the entertainment industry in Nigeria gives ‘thought’, ‘voice’ and ‘sight’ to the society’s culture and its shared values through the expression of creative works either in film, music, performing arts, literary, content origination and other related intellectual property assets constantly reminding the people who they are and what they represent.

The theme ‘Building the industry of our dreams’ not only challenged all and sundry on the need for collective responsibilities but engaged with varying solutions to redefine the Nigerian entertainment industry. There is an imperative need to begin a process of structuring the business in entertainment, setting up systems that are accountable, practical and very much applicable to the Nigerian environment. The distribution networks across every strand of the Nigerian entertainment industry must align with the objectives of accessibility, transparency and efficiency. Marketers, distributors (local and international), investors and audiences with an appetite for business or products from the Nigerian entertainment industry must be able to access the sector with ease.

Credibility in the industry is critical, as this can only be achieved when there is an organised structure put in place to checkmate negative exigencies currently experienced. The fight against piracy, an ugly demon challenging the industry even at a global level, can be curtailed through collective efforts with the agencies established as watch guards, protecting the industry from continued erosion. To this regard, government policies backing the entertainment industry and protecting the intellectual property rights in this sector should be actively implemented without fear or favour.

Obvious technical deficiencies continue to plague the Nigerian entertainment industry with grossly inadequate distribution structures that could easily be monetized. Businesses existing within the industry should build and operate on a sustainable business plan or model with proper corporate governance identity. It is believed this will help change negative perceptions of entertainers from being seen a ‘joke’ to being seen as ‘entertainment entrepreneurs.’ Hence, the need for adequate education of the entertainment professional to good standards and better still, understand the great influence they wield in society.

Professionals in the Nigerian entertainment industry should organise themselves into proper unbiased pressure groups advocating on behalf of the general masses, whose consciousness can be easily influenced by this industry. As Frank Nweke, Director General of the NESG and keynote speaker at the NEC 2013 puts it, ‘No sector or industry has more power than the entertainment industry in terms of mass influence.

The maiden edition of NEC held in Lagos, 26 April 2013 and created a platform to initiate holistic conversations among the industry’s practitioners, talents, interested parties and investors of the sector. Sessions at the conference covered various sectors of the industry including Music, Nollywood, Business of entertainment, Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Frank Nweke, Director General of NESG declares NEC 2013 open:

This conference seeks to engage and sustain a dialogue amongst peers in the creative, entertainment industry and the government in policy formulation, implementation and regulation. Such sustained engagement will help build consensus on the most critical issues afflicting the sector including curbing piracy, organising a more structured enabling environment in Nigeria for the business of entertainment to further thrive at local and international levels. More importantly, is for stakeholders in the Nigerian entertainment industry to promote action towards the emplacement of policies that will effectively address these aforementioned problems.

The Nigerian entertainment industry is a veritable tool for building positive perceptions of the nation through its movies, music, literature and the performing arts. Talents abound in Nigeria but must be nurtured and provided with an environment that allows for unhindered creative expression.

Today, the media sphere has evolved into multi-dimensional platforms creating opportunities to birth dynamic contents. The NTA and other television stations hold airtime in trust on behalf of Nigerians and must seek to collaborate with content producers from the digital divide rather than fostering a rent mentality, expecting independent producers to do the hard work of producing content and pay exorbitant air time rates.

Importation of aged Latin American soap operas for broadcast on national television killed the tradition of world class Nigerian drama. The NTA as a case in point had previously championed creation of great local content up till the 80’s. From this time, support structures for a viable entertainment industry collapsed and still not rebuilt. The Nigerian entertainment industry must begin to engage in a different narrative, in order to harness the full potential and possibilities at present.

It is important to understand the benefits of deriving true value from any endeavor within a system with functional value chain. The value chain is a fundamental catalyst that makes the likes of American stars become financially successful over their Nigerian counterparts. Every aspect of the system is adequately structured to contribute value that is shared across board.

Piracy must be checked. Lack of protection of intellectual property and appreciation of the creative ingenuity continues to bedevil the entertainment industry. The weak Intellectual Property protection policies make it impossible for exploited Nigerian talents to seek redress in courts. The laws that exist on intellectual property infringement are not effective and must be muscled by the government. The government has not done well with enforcement of copyright laws and many still lack rudimentary understanding of the business in entertainment.

To maximize benefits of the value chain in building the industry of our dreams, each business in the entertainment industry should have a defined structure with obvious lines of business transactions, income and expenditure that can be tracked, enlist corporate identities and in general, hold a serious business ‘look and feel’. By doing these, it dispels the notion of the sector being just provider of fun but rather, seen with true potential of being a major provider of jobs, revenue earner and contributor to Nigeria’s GDP.

MUSIC: Are record labels endangered species? Paper presented by Kenny Ogungbe, Founder/ CEO Kennis Music. Panel discussions moderated by: Sound Sultan

Record labels are evolving as the industry is embracing new technologies and especially as the new/ social media is getting most of the audience divide. The technological revolution of the music/ entertainment industry gives rise to the impressive and the remarkable growth in the media industry, more so, the broadcast sector. Therefore the discussion on this paper presented focuses on two fundamentals, one, the ingenuity and two, the explorative capability of making revenue from what may be perceived as a hobby.

There is an utmost need for the entertainment industry to be appreciated and nurtured in the right stead as it is fast emerging as one of the greatest revenue earner. It is also strategic in its positioning as an international branding platform for Nigeria, only if the system and appropriate structures that can sustain the industry are put in place. The music industry has transited from a communal domestic endeavor into a global multi-dollar business but with gaping voids such as piracy, weak protection of intellectual property rights, ineffective distribution network and non-existing database of sales and revenue.

Other problems that militate against the growth of the Nigerian music sector include, infrastructural deficiencies, lack of capital, operational structures and ineffective management of the industry. These challenges were identified as attitudinal, institutional and sometimes a function of sheer ignorance by the people who should positively engage and benefit from the industry, a case in point being, the artistes themselves.

Some record label owners today, see music as bad investment due to the monstrous problem of piracy. Piracy is killing the artiste, the record label owners and the industry at large. Therefore, there must be a collective effort by all to win the war against piracy. ‘Quality should not be compromised at the altar of cheapness’.

To curb piracy, record label owners should make works of their label artistes available at designated outlets, shops or markets as scarcity sometimes encourages piracy. One quick fix strategy therefore, is to make the products readily available. Accessibility of an artiste’s work will also encourage collation of royalties on the property, so long as the work is good and garners airplay.

It is therefore important for government agencies such as National Broadcast Commission (NBC), Nigerian Copy Rights Council, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and others to collaborate in ensuring that standards are maintained in all artistic content emanating from Nigeria. Also, the collection of artistes’ royalty should not be the responsibility of any organisation or private body not constitutionally set up with the support of the Nigerian government.

MEDIA: Role of the media in developing the industry of our dreams. Paper presented by Chris Ubosi, CEO – Megaletrics (owners of Beat FM 99.9, Naija FM & Classic FM). Panel discussions moderated by Tolu Ogunlesi

The role of the media is pivotal in achieving the industry of our dreams with the consumption pattern of content constantly changing. The media continues to have significant audience response from Nollywood and the music sectors. The media is giving considerable mileage to these contents.

Issuance of private licenses to operators in the advent of decentralizing government’s monopoly has done more good to the industry. Ray Power FM was the pioneer private radio station. Today, the media community in Nigeria can account for over 150 regional radio stations and 3 national networks that include, one government owned, NTA, and the other two, Daar Communications and Silverbird.

Accessing content is now tilting more towards the new media, which is being consumed in multiple platforms, especially through mobile phones. There are over 100 million mobile phones in circulation, 45 million Internet users are estimated to exist in Nigeria and about 54 million Nigerians probably use mobile phones. It is also recorded according to reports from Lagos Social Media Week 2013 that social media is becoming an integral part of Nigerian entertainment. Nigeria is said to have the largest tweets in Africa with the second largest Facebook access. Therefore penetration of media content through social media is increasing and can be monetized. Sadly, the culture of data keeping is non-existent in the industry. This must change.

The media sector must begin to tell their own story, telling narratives from the Nigerian/ African perspective. To grow the industry of our dreams it starts with growing from within. This is achieved by promoting significant collaborations. Collaborations that are in the best interest of everyone and the industry, as 50% of content on most international channels – DSTV, MTV base etc are already provided for by Nollywood and the Nigerian music sectors. There is an opportunity to generate better-defined income through these platforms.

Discovery of new talents is critical to the continuous evolution of the Nigerian entertainment industry. However, there is also need to keep on helping and encouraging talents at local/ rural levels. The industry needs to be mindful of not over raising the bar so that raw talents can still be identified and nurtured to form.

This industry has the capabilities, if properly structured to survive by itself from internally generated money. The Nigerian entertainment industry can fend for itself and does not need financial handouts from the government. ‘Nollywood is already the second biggest employer of labour’. Therefore, when the system is working within the industry, investors will become more confident to support. The government should rather concentrate on providing good governance.

Finally, the industry needs to engage in exploring different models of doing the business of entertainment. Digital media is the future, is Nigeria prepared to embrace this change? There is an imperative need to move away from traditional business models and begin to engage and apply new thinking approaches to create ‘new’ revenue streams. ‘We need to change the entire supply chain, from production to archives to distribution’.

NOLLYWOOD (FILM): The Nollywood Paradigm – reflections from an unapologetic commercial Nollywood filmmaker. Paper presented by Amaka Igwe – Director, Amaka Igwe Studios. Panel discussions moderated by Victor Akande

Nollywood is a phenomenon. It is a name by which the Nigerian movie industry has been promoted in the past fifteen years, coined by the Washington Post journal. The Nollywood industry thrives because of its originality and non-conformity approach to film making. This sector of the industry is unique to Nigeria.

The uniqueness of Nollywood holds a traditional value and cultural base, adapting to wide range of socio-economic challenges within the operating system. The industry was forced to invent itself and till date, Nollywood continues to be inventive and innovative itself towards the practice of the trade. The stories should remain socially relevant and resonate with the people. There is no need to imitate Hollywood.

A missed opportunity to set up appropriate infrastructure and systems for the industry was when the government decided to ban cinemas in Nigeria. It did more harm than good, as there were no alternative plans to fill the gaps created. The influx of Mexican soaps took preeminence over the support of encouraging local and original Nigerian productions for television. Largely, the government did not understand the audience for whom this industry is created.

Technology has ignited a quantum leap in the future of Nollywood, giving rise to increased interest in training to understand how to use and adopt these technologies for the good of the industry. Training is a guaranteed pathway to gaining better experience and involvement of the industry if it must advance.

However distribution remains a major challenge for the industry, second after piracy. Piracy is killing the industry with about 82% of works being pirated. Also, lack of data gathering, its interpretation and the utilization of intelligent information to monitor and assess marketing performance within the industry persist.

There is need for the Guild to critically understand its role in protecting the best interests of members and not focus attention solely on the government intervention fund. It is important to instill and monitor a high level of professionalism within the industry. The guilds should be restructured to carter for the needs of its members.

Growth of the Nollywood industry should be driven by infrastructure that is required to service existing and new markets as they develop. The industry should use the power and skills inherent to promote and project modern and historical documentation, education and preservation of cultures in Nigeria. The industry has the potential of shaping a positive image for Nigeria. ‘What we are putting out is what the world thinks about Nigeria’.

BUSINESS: Relationship between Corporate Nigeria and Entertainment – parasitism or symbiosis? Paper presented by Kolawole Oyeyemi, GM Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria. Panel discussions moderated by Efe Omorogbe

The interaction between brands in corporate Nigeria and the entertainment industry have seen the existence of formidable relationships though strategic alliances. Most brands are adopting the pyramid strategy for inclusive brand integration into the entertainment industry. For instance MTN’s pyramid strategy reveals that at the base, known as developmental, the brand finds and groom budding talents. At the middle is the platform; an avenue for these talents to rise into stardom and the top level shows a reward scheme of achievements to the talents. Other brands are adopting similar pyramid models.

Practitioners in the industry must engage in a process that brings about added value to the system. The process will identify the cycle of impact looking at the brand from the inside as it transitions to customer expectations while engaging with the events or content within the entertainment industry.

The brand is interested in the value derived from its association with any industry either by direct sales benefit or visibility. Therefore, critical evaluation of the value chain between the brand and the sector is necessary. This fosters a symbiotic relationship for in the industry as the values can be monetized.

There is an increasing need for professionalism in the entertainment industry. The industry must challenge status quo by making convincing and professional presentations to the corporates or investors. This will inform the business decisions that they will take.

The entertainers in the industry only succeed in the business of branding that is, putting up a good front for aesthetic purposes but fail in understanding the branding of business. There is need to learn the business in entertainment and not just the business of entertainment.

Signed
Ayeni Adekunle Samuel
Founder/Chairman
NEC

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#NECLIVE: Position paper from inaugural Nigerian Entertainment Conference

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