In the past few years, Afrobeats has grown from the local music enjoyed by Nigerians, Ghanaians, and other Africans to global dominance, appearing in top positions on charts all over the world.
Nigerian Afrobeats artistes like Burna Boy, Davido, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, and Wizkid tour different cities around the world and sell out concert venues in places many of us didn’t even know existed.
The world is finally paying attention to Nigerian artistes and their music, so is Google-owned video-sharing platform, YouTube.
From featuring Burna Boy in its Artist Spotlight Stories to putting Tiwa Savage and Rema on a billboard in Times Square in New York City, YouTube seems to be interested in connecting these artistes to a larger global audience.
The company also wants to be actively involved in connecting Nigerian music lovers with their favourite Nigerian and international artistes by launching YouTube Music, its music streaming service, in Nigeria today.
YouTube Music in Nigeria
The YouTube Music app was first launched in November 2015 but a newer version of the app was released in May 2018 and is live in over 70 countries, including South Africa — its first African market where it launched in March 2019.
From today, March 11, 2020, YouTube Music will be available in Nigeria, its second African market. Alongside the music streaming app, the Google-owned company is also launching YouTube Premium, its ad-free service.
Speaking on YouTube Music’s royalty model for Nigerian artistes, Addy Awofisayo, the company’s Content Partnership Manager, sub-Saharan Africa said, “We already have an agreement with COSON (the Copyright Society of Nigeria), so that’s how the artistes get paid.”
We took the YouTube Music app on a “test drive” before its launch in Nigeria. Here’s what it looks like.
The home page
Like most music streaming apps, the first step to accessing YouTube Music is to download the app from the Google Play Store for Android and Apple App Store for iOS. On signing up, you’ll be required to choose your favourite artistes to set the tone for your experience on the app and help with a better recommendation.
The accuracy of YouTube’s recommendation is to be seen here. Based on your choice of artistes at the signup point, the home page of the app comes with at least ten segments of recommendations. And there’s an automatic queue of songs to play next, similar to whatever song you’re listening to.
Playlists for various moods and more. There are also local playlists of popular songs from Southern and Eastern Nigeria.
Artistes similar to your favourites
Throwback albums from your faves and similar artistes
Personalised mixes just for you. There’s also a mix of new music, “Discover Mix” that is updated every Wednesday.
Recommended videos, and live performances based on your favourite songs and artistes.
Real-time local and global charts
The Hotlist page contains new and trending videos on YouTube, including the number of views.
The library contains last played songs, downloaded songs, playlists created by you, songs, and artistes.
The music experience
From its smart search feature to its ability to recommend songs based on your mood and location, the YouTube Music app promises an all-round music experience.
Smart search. You can also search by lyrics, your mood (using emojis), or what you’re doing.
Powered by Google Search, the YouTube Music app is optimised to help you find any song even if you don’t know the title.
You can as well find all available versions of any particular song including audio, video, albums, singles, remixes, covers, instrumentals, and karaoke versions.
Recommendations based on your location
The recommendations aren’t only based on songs you’ve played before, according to YouTube, the app recommends songs to you based on where you are.
For example, if you’re at home, it’ll recommend songs based on what you typically play at home, if you’re at the office — playlists suitable for work, and if you’re at the gym, based on your location on Google Maps, workout songs. It’ll also recommend songs that people in your locale are listening to.
Switch from audio to video
The YouTube Music app allows you to seamlessly switch a song from audio to video. When you switch from one format of the song to the other, it automatically syncs to the exact part of the song or video without affecting data consumption.
You can like and unlike songs
Liked songs will be added to a playlist in your library while unliked songs will stop being recommended to you or included in any recommended mix, album, or playlist.
You can set the app to automatically download songs you like for when you’re not connected to the Internet.
In addition, users can enjoy YouTube Music using Google Home and other smart speakers. You can also play songs saved on your phone on the app.
As earlier mentioned, YouTube Premium will also be launched in Nigeria today. In addition to giving users an ad-free experience on YouTube, it also gives them access to YouTube Music and Originals — YouTube’s premium content platform.
The launch of YouTube Premium in Nigeria will give local content creators an opportunity to make more money from their content, considering the fact that they don’t make enough money from YouTube directly.
“Many content creators complain that creating content costs a lot of money, so one of the ways to help them recoup their money is to put their content on YouTube Premium. It is also an incentive for creators to produce high-quality content,” said Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager, West Africa.
For now, there is no local Nigerian content on YouTube Originals, however, Awofisayo said that the dedicated YouTube Originals team will be looking to develop content with local content creators.
“The team’s approach has mainly been to commission production so they mostly work with content creators, producers and artistes to produce content. But licensing content is something that can work for them when they come into the Nigerian market because Nollywood productions are always ongoing,” she adds.
Although you can use the YouTube Music app for free without subscribing to YouTube Music Premium, you would be unable to access many of the features including background play and download.
The Youtube Music Premium individual plan costs ₦900 (~$2.45) monthly while the family plan for up to six users costs ₦1,400 (~$3.80). The YouTube Premium individual plan costs ₦1,100 (~$3) while the family plan costs ₦1,700 (~$4.60).
Users in Nigeria can pay for the subscription with their debit cards from any Nigerian bank or through 9mobile’s 9pay.