'The Next Beat Of Our Story'

After a year of running an experimental African music publication, we’re convinced that you deserve another year. Welcome to Chapter 2!

What a year it’s been. A year has passed since I decided to throw my heart into the ring for a publication on African music. It felt like the right thing to do. After spending years covering and working in the field, scoring the biggest bylines, and telling the best stories for a number of media outlets, I believed my industry deserved to have a platform that served it. No fluff, no agenda, no politics. Just a direct and comprehensive exploration of the art, the people who make it, the systems that drive them and the humanity that supports it all. 

Life is happening. Afrobeats is happening. We are happening. After years of knocking on the periphery of the global music industrial complex, Afrobeats has finally become more than a musical backwater. We are no longer an afterthought for creative excavation. For the first time, Afrocentric records made by young Africans in Lagos, Accra, London, LA and Atlanta are an integral part of the global pop music framework. Artists who call Nigeria home are scoring the biggest cross-cultural connections: our soft power is on steroids, and our collective bargaining power has grown as we integrate fully within various markets. 

This growth has been made possible by a number of pipelines connecting the creativity and power of Lagos to the rest of the world. There are offices springing up in Lagos, housing some of the biggest music companies in the world. Check the news: every other day, there’s a new announcement. An entrance. Boots on the ground. New pipelines for the transfer of expertise and structure. This is rapidly changing the local music industry and how business is conducted and the music is created. It’s influencing the structure, flow and direction of our sounds. And making us better.

We are slowly becoming an industry that eats from the music itself, and not just through the music. 

I believe these are the most crucial times in African pop music. I believe we are witnessing history, and it seems normal to us because we are all players in it. Sometimes this history can be as simple as producer P.Priime waking up one day to make the beat for the next hit. Or it might be Spotify rolling out the big guns and making a play for a potential windfall of streamers across new markets on the continent. Or these days, it looks like Wizkd, Tems and Justin Bieber consolidating “Essence,” which has already ruled summer 2021. It can also manifest as fan wars, FC against FC, weaponizing and hurling this abundance of success at each other. Or it can be the proud declaration of numbers, artists deservedly pumping their chests about a job well done. A dream realised and rewarded in coin, awards and status.

And when this takes human form, it becomes stories about the triumph of humanity. Like Asa making it to France despite the odds and making generational art. It can be Ayra Starr intimating the pitfalls of being young and getting it. Or crying along with Mayorkun when he lost his beloved dog. The music is an expression of our humanity. It comes from all parts of our culture. We bleed into it, pray through it and soundtrack every moment of our lives with it. That’s why the biggest records are the most relatable. And at 3 a.m., when we are stumbling from the club, blood pumped full of liquor and happiness, we personalize the lyrics. Because it is us. It tells our story, even now.

And that’s why Afrobeats Intelligence exists. To document this moment in time. To take snapshots of this passage of progress. To hold this history for now, for us, and for the ones who will come after us. We deserve to tell our stories, with local context and how that intersects with our ambitious quest for global domination. 

We launched in March 2020, building through the pandemic as the world shut down. We told stories of our biggest stars finding their way through pandemic restrictions to keep our speakers alive. While we worked with a mission to tell the best stories, we have had to figure it out as we go. What stories are worth telling? How do we strike at the heart of a good thing, document and interpret in the most accessible format?

I won’t lie, on many days that was hard. It took a lot of convincing to earn the trust of the music industry. This is the first-ever newsletter focused on telling the biggest stories on African music. People needed some warming up to understand the format and how to interact with it. Even now, part of our job is to make a case for how this services the game. But that’s a battle we are winning. Having you read this is a win and a vote for the existence of this platform.

And that’s why we are launching a new phase of the journey with support from the good folks at Substack. Call it a 2.0, a levelling up, or anything that signifies refined, upward mobility. Our subscriber base continues to grow, and the numbers with it. And with this added responsibility, we are rising up to your trust in Afrobeats Intelligence. We have designed a new brand identity that brilliantly communicates our desire to be the heartbeat of music on the continent. 

We are also creating new content offerings. The core of our content has been our extensive interviews. That will continue at an improved rate. We are also raising our publishing rate to at least two pieces a week. You will get more feature pieces and essays providing context to the news and the shifts in the ecosystem. We have also lined up an exciting new mix of writers and authors drawn from the music industry to diversify our voice and provide for expansive viewpoints about the art and business behind it.

In June 2020 we experimented with a subscription model, with mixed success. In this new era, we are rebuilding the model to focus on community. New subscribers don’t just have access to more exclusive content. They are also ushered into a community of music lovers and professionals moving the needle in the market. Free readers will still get the weekly interviews that we’ve grown to love so much.

But as a paying subscriber for $5 a month, you'll get more content.

I’m lining up new features and a detailed breakdown of the music industry and all its wheels grinding in constant motion. From deep cuts drawn from the intersection of creators, pipelines and consumers, to the best reviews of the art. We’ll also explore holistic explainers adding context to all the music moves around us. These paying subscribers will help me to continue building this community, so we can change the future of African music.

We’re also introducing community events. These will be special sessions between subscribers and figures from the industry. Your favourite exec, your most inspiring operator, and the best creators from the scene.

And yes, I have also been listening to your demands for new content formats. Afrobeats Intelligence is also incorporating multimedia. Some of our best pieces will be processed into audio and visual formats. Podcasts and shows will be delivered directly via email as we entertain, educate and hope to inspire you.

Overall, Afrobeats Intelligence is rising up to meet the charge that you’ve given us. We’re set to serve you better, and for longer. 

Thank you for joining us on this journey. We could not have gone through a year without you. Let’s do another one, shall we?