Entertainment industry has a lot to learn from banks and telcos – Ayeni Adekunle

In a clime where local streaming players are struggling to wrest the market away from bloggers and bootleggers, the entry of heavyweights Apple could cause sleepless nights for the indigenous operators.

But Ayeni Adekunle, popular journalist, PR maverick and founder of Orin, one of the underdogs, says the competition will be good for business. Could Orin be the David to unseat Apple Music the Goliath?

Q: In a market that already has a few players that are seemingly bigger fish, why is Orin wading in?

Ayeni Adekunle: The streaming scene in Nigeria is – to put it as it is – virgin. What we have are a lot of music blogs breaking all the rules there are, along with desperate artistes and labels who are corroborators. Add to that the flash and memory card sharing that’s the norm on campuses, at Computer Village and elsewhere. In the midst of all these are the likes of Spinlet that have started quite well, but have been held back by many mishaps.

So Orin is a product of a desire to help music creators and sponsors understand their fans better using geo-location, habit mapping and social networking using data as shared by listeners. We will not allow downloads and for as long as we can, we will give users an option to stream for free.

There’s a behavioural pattern that has to change and if we don’t achieve that, no streaming platform here will survive the assault from Computer Village, from Alaba, from flash drive and memory card sharers. We are also structured to work with the right owners to promote their music on a level no one has done before.

Q: That sounds revolutionary. What else is Orin bringing to the table?

Ayeni Adekunle: Part of what we are doing is to work with the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to establish a decent model of compensation for rights owners and to structure a formula that will encourage even the blogs to stop offering music for download.

Q: This sounds like music to the ears but in realistic commercial terms, how is Orin doing in the market?

Ayeni Adekunle: It’s doing okay. We have finished testing; we announced our full launch in April at NECLive 4 and are now working to conclude all partnerships as we roll out. It’s a very long journey but we are prepared.

Q: So what incentive(s) could there possibly be for the blogs in all of this?

Ayeni Adekunle:  Well, there are some. We have opened discussions with some bloggers already and we are also putting together workshops for managers and business owners to understand why they must work with government and regulators to clamp down on illegal downloads and sharing.

As it is, at least 65 percent of artistes and labels provide direct download links to blogs. We have run Nigerian Entertainment Today for almost 7 years now and it’s amazing how determined the artistes want to give out music for free and pay radio and TV stations for airplay for they can have a hit and the get shows and endorsements.

The industry will never be what it deserves to be if we continue to let corporate organisations have the yam and the knife. In a meeting with a top three label some weeks ago, I told them: ‘everything you call a business will collapse if MTN and others wake up today and decide they are moving their marketing into sports and agriculture.’

Q: Logically, it is the right thing to do. Withdraw free music giving rights and get royalties off streaming. But…and this is a strong but, do we have the required infrastructure to pull this off?

Ayeni Adekunle: Take a Don Jazzy for example; he has as much subscribers as some telco products and as much customers as a lot of beverages. We don’t have infrastructure for now. But we will. That’s partly why I set up #NECLive; partly why we have invested in building Orin and partly why I’m speaking to everyone and also borrowing from models abroad.

We have such great opportunity to be a bigger industry than telco, oil and gas and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) but we don’t have data! We don’t even know the extent of the potential we have. We are not yet using technology to our benefit.

Q: Data in what sense? And how many subscribers do you have now?

Ayeni Adekunle: How many fans does Asa have in Ikenne? What’s a day in their lives? You get? How many times does ‘Godwin’ get played on radio? Or streamed on Orin? How many records will Davido‘s album move, the first 72 hours when released ? Can we make a forecast based on what we know of his fans? The world runs on data, sir.

I’m not able to give any specific figures for now. We are working to have a modest one million users in the first year . Some of our friends have plugged it I hear. I think we have a good opportunity with the right support and collaborations. This is me calling on everyone that cares about Nigerian music to support us and use Orin. Artistes and labels can get details on orin.ng/guide.

Q: You have a deep understanding of data and how it affects music fans…

Ayeni Adekunle: I’ve worked in the entertainment sector and I have worked in the corporate sector so I guess I should. I started early; I’ve been in this sector since 1995 and I’m fortunate to have worked in different aspects. I wish entertainment would take lessons from banks and telcos and FMCGs and be the best they can be so I’m committed to doing all I can to make that happen.

Q: So iTunes has launched its new service and that’s about N1k per month to stream as many albums as possible, which is very affordable for many Nigerians. Won’t that be a threat to Orin?

Ayeni Adekunle: Yeah. I can’t wait for iTunes and Spotify and others to come here full time. We’re learning a lot from them. They also have a lot to learn from us.

Q: But that could affect the local players, no?

Ayeni Adekunle: They will have a lot to learn from us too. It will be interesting to see how it plays and I think both the artistes and consumers will be the biggest beneficiaries at the end of the day if such stiff competition emerges.