The 2010s seems to have been the bloom period for the Nigerian Music Industry as it has flourished in and out of Africa since it began. Artistes have signed international deals, bagged international awards and recognitions, performed on some of the world’s biggest stages and broken a few records. This may be the height for us but something seems to be missing, women.


There is an absence of longevity in the limelight for women in the Nigerian music industry. These female artistes rarely go beyond 10 hits before they begin to fade off. A number of them  go ahead to settle for other forms of art majorly like acting and makeup artistry. Although, there are a few exceptions like Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade. The latter, who hasn’t bagged  a hit since her 2016 single Ferrari, is slowly slipping away from the mainstream scene, even with her latest single which features multiple time Grammy Awards winner, Angelique Kidjo. I know a couple of minds would sway towards Asa, but I tell you this, Asa may have bagged a few hits like Jailer, Fire On The Mountain and Satan Be Gone over the years but still can’t be considered mainstream. She doesn’t even make music in the country and even most of her fans don’t consider her a core Nigerian artiste. Over time, we have seen a couple of these artistes come and go, they rarely stay in the game as long as their male counterparts. How gender inclusive is the Nigerian music industry? And are the societal roles expected of women telling on their careers as artistes?


How gender inclusive is the Nigerian music industry?

The Nigerian music industry is very well male dominated. I’m not talking just artistes; I mean record label owners, producers, A&Rs and other spaces actively involved in the music business. These are the people who make these artistes. How frequently do they embrace working with female artistes? I doubt there are any labels in the country that can brag about having 3 very well-funded female artistes on, at the same time. There was a time these people had a trend of having a “Label First Lady”, and just to join the trend, they would sign female artistes and it’ll be everywhere in the media. But the music, we never hear. In an interview with, female singer/songwriter and 2013 winner of Project Fame, West Africa, had this to say about women in the Nigerian music industry –

“I feel the industry is rigid to women. There are people that will want to open a record label and will say they don’t want to sign a female. I feel some people just feel females have wahala, that being a woman, they’re emotional, you have to think of their hair, you have to think of makeup, forgetting the fact that these people are really talented. For me, I’m not waiting for you to do all that for me, I just need my song to be heard. My sister, Tiwa, said she’s tired of being a woman. So imagine that is Tiwa talking about that, and we’re not Tiwa. I just feel the industry is harsh towards us. They need to support us. They feel they will spend too much. And another thing, a woman that you sign, she was single will always get married. I’m just telling you their thoughts. They’ll get married, get pregnant, that’s nine months or one year of break from the industry. They are just blank to the fact that females are strong enough to handle their personal stuff. They should see that we are doing it, even without them. So they just need to be wiser and understand the business too.”

There have even been rumors that some of these label owners request intimacy from some of these women before putting them in business. I won’t be quick to throw that out because they also request money from male artistes looking to get a deal. It’s a corrupt industry; something always has to give, either in cash, or in kind.

Immaculate’s last words take us to our next point…


Are the societal roles expected of women telling on their careers as artistes?

Telling an average Nigerian you plan on kicking of a career in music is almost equivalent to how prostitution is pictured in the Nigerian society; awful and must be shunned. Especially for people of the older generation, the Nigerian music scene is like a one way ticket to hell fire if you ask them. Why? It’s a religious and judgmental society, so “what would people say?” is the first thing that comes to their minds. For young males, one or two arguments may occur between them and their parents, but they could easily sneak off to studios after school hours or on weekends to make music and hope for their big breaks. But for females, trust me, it’s a lot different. They’re the most monitored set of kids in Nigerian households, what time do they have to sneak off and pursue their dreams? The best chance they have at exhibiting their talent is in the church choir. Let’s fast forward to when they’re old enough and if their dreams haven’t died along the way, on their journey to adulthood. She gets her big break, she becomes a diva, but it’s short-lived. Why? She gets married and starts having kids. Marriage is one of the highest bars of success in the Nigerian society, especially for women, mothers start pushing them towards that direction from their mid-20s, and suitors start to come. We’ve seen this play out a lot of times, even in the business world, women get sidelined or lose certain positions vital in their career path because “who go take care of oga and pikin?” For divas, they’ll barely have time for studio sessions, concerts and other baggage attached to being a superstar. These roles and expectations from society to womanhood are limiting the potentials of women, especially for the music industry.

Imagine the versatility that sufficient inclusion of the female gender into the industry would bring.


What does the future hold?

In the past two years, we’ve seen an inflow of female artistes on both mainstream and alternative scene. These are young and talented women who, so far, haven’t relented in their efforts to provide unique content. One name that really stands out from this group is Dr. Dolor Entertainment’s ‘Billionaire’, Teni The Entertainer. Although, being active since the year 2016, she made her breakthrough in the year 2017 and since then has released hit singles like Billionaire, Askamaya, Uyo Meyo and Case. She has also gone on to bag major awards in the country and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

Other key names in this category include Niniola, Tems & Lady Donli

With these people being on the right track and having strong support where necessary, I believe women would begin to have a strong stand in the Nigerian music industry. Until then, it continues to be a man’s world.





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