I was one of the winners for the first Nigerian Music-Tech Innovation Challenge and if the pitch event had been a physical one, I imagine I would have been dressed differently. More respectably. But there I was last Wednesday with a t-shirt and short shorts waiting for the announcement that a solution I’d built during the lockdown had won its category.
The journey started with the ideation workshops. There were four of these workshops and each of them, handled by one of the eventual judges, was geared towards preparing the potential applicants for the final pitch event which was held on Wednesday the 2nd of December, 2020.
In describing the challenge, the official website calls it:
“A competition aimed at identifying and developing innovative solutions across four opportunity areas in the Nigerian music industry that can benefit from the application of technology.”
And for each of these opportunity areas, judges versed in these fields were picked to first run workshops where anyone could attend, then shortlist applications, and eventually pick the winners in their concerned areas.
Each of these opportunity areas highlighted gaps in the music industry that tech companies could provide solutions for.
Here’s a brief rundown of the problem areas and their respective judges.
- Label Management – the judge picked was none other than the founder of Chocolate City Group, Audu Maikori, and with him lay the task of selecting the startup that provided the best solutions for a market where labels were not run as they should.
- Event Management – this task fell on Wale Davies, CEO of Fatherland Media and one half of the hip-hop duo ShowDemCamp. From organising Palmwine Fest, a yearly musical festival, to planning several other shows, Wale Davies came prepared to pick a solution that made the hassle of putting on a show just a little less hassly.
- Legal Advisory for Artists – this category was handled by Uduak Oduok, founder of Africa Music Law and an international fashion and entertainment lawyer. With her lay the recognition that entertainment law in Nigeria was still in its very early stages and tech would be the thing to move it forward.
- Artist Management – with this, Godwin Tom seemed like the no-brainer. As CEO of The Godwin Tom Company and an artist manager with over 13 years of experience, he had to pick a solution that made the job of managing artists easier while meeting the need for the proper education of artists and managers on what artist management is supposed to be.
Following the ideation workshops where the judges tried to sensitise attendees on the industry’s tech needs, a call for applications – ideas or finished products – was made and finally the 12-long list of finalists was published by CCHub.
And then began the pitch preps which had us finetuning our pitches and preparing for the final public pitch event.
With over 280 people attending the event on CrowdCast, the excitement for what this could mean for the Nigerian, nay African, music industry was almost palpable.
In an opening remark, Francis Sani of the CCHub team spoke about how challenges like these were necessary because, as he puts it, “the industry has had to deal with a lot of piracy among other issues and with a market as huge as ours, we should be able to use tech to enable artists to thrive in their craft”.
Safe to say I agree with him. As a musician myself, creating this solution was also geared at making the lives of independent artists like me, easier.
One after the other, each of us finalists pitched to the judge in charge of that category and Bez Idakula as well.
With every break, the moderator, Kelvin Umechukwu from CCHub, reminded the audience that they could vote for their favourite startup for a fifth category called the “Audience Favourite.”
And if I was being totally sincere I knew I’d lost that one even before it was announced – for context, I had 15 votes at the start of the event and someone else had more than 600. If I was a betting man, I would not have bet on myself.
As the pitches went on, questions poured in from the judges and the audience and were very often met with precise answers from the speakers.
As the event came close to the end and the judges deliberated off-screen, a rep from Paga took over the screen to explain what ways Paga was willing to assist the startups with a simple payment solution to power their apps.
The emerging winners in each of the categories were called out by the respective judges:
- Event Management was won by Tix.Africa – interestingly one of the few solutions already operating in the market. The presentation was made by Folayemi Agusto, the CEO, who had already put on several events e.g. EatDrinkLagos, and in finetuning her own events she created a solution that now allows artists and labels to put on ticketed shows while giving them less to worry about and more data about their fans.
- Artist Management was won by The Music Learning Cap. The CEO Olanrewaju Uthman had started creating the solution when he found that there was a lack of proper education when it came to artist management in Nigeria.
- Legal Advisory was won by TheContractAid (that’s me!). I founded the company with my brother-in-law, who is also a brother in law (this means he is a lawyer) and the only aim has always been to make it easier and more convenient for individuals, especially young creatives, to understand the legal jargon contained in their contracts.
- Label Management went to Royalti.io whose CEO, Chinedum Okerengwor, spoke on the importance of a service like his in making sure funds from streams and all other channels are properly aggregated by labels.
- The audience favourite went to MusicHangout – remember the ones with over 600 votes? The solution was originally listed in the Artist Management category and had the most votes from the audience. The CEO, Ezekiel Adeyinka described his solution as something he created to help his friends who were artists gain the recognition he believed they deserved.
With each of the winning solutions, there was a common thread; every founder had started on their idea even before the challenge was announced.
It is clear there are tech companies springing up every day attempting to solve issues in as many industries as are available.
The winning teams are to expect technical support from CCHub in building their solutions till they are ready for market and of course funding for scaling.
I think the future’s looking good for music-tech in Nigeria, and that’s not just because TheContractAid won.