The founder of IROKOTV, Jason Njoku, has explained the reason behind iROKING, an online digital music platform was shutdown.
iROKING is an online media distribution company focused on the Nigerian Entertainment Industry, which started operations in 2010.
Jason also blamed lack of respect to laws and contracts by artist as the greatest obstacles to growth of the music industry in Nigeria.
Writing on his official Medium page, “losing $2M in Nigeria’s music industry”losing $2M in Nigeria’s music industry”, Jason Njoku said Iroking died as a corporate entity over a year ago, 27/03/2018.
He said, “We started a little music distribution company called Iroking. The ambition was to replicate what Spotify had started to do in Europe, but more importantly what the Saavn folks were attempting to build in India.”
“We met Saavn at a Tiger Global internet conference in 2011 and immediately understood (at least we thought) that perhaps IROKO had a unique skill set to try this opportunity across Africa. And for Nigerian music.”
“Alas whereas ROK has thrived into arguably one of the most valuable independent media companies in Africa, Iroking died a slow cancerous terminal death. But back then I was full of optimism.”
“People always ask me why Nollywood can’t be big like Nigerian music. Why it can’t be global. They are making sooo much money whilst Nollywood is struggling. I always smile. There isn’t a way anyone makes money in Nigerian entertainment that I am unaware of.”
“It’s my business to sit around and understand the lay of the land and figure out monetisation opportunities. So I see the money. Forget the social media noise. I know people who have flown PJ a few weeks back and then needed house rent bailout money shortly after.”
“The Nigerian music industry should be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s not. Not even close. The reason? A lack of respect for the law. In 2013, after the initial abuse at the hands of the music industry had subsided, I wanted to understand what had gone wrong. It didn’t make sense to me.”
“I had started the digitisation of the music business in Nigeria, signed the original deals with the talent, they were paid upfront, it’s not like I was owing them or going out of business. Granted, I have never partied with talent. Never sat and chilled with them and discussed the finer aspects of their craft (zzZ). Perhaps I wasn’t a music man.”
“In fact, other than the very early days, the last time I really had a conversation lasting more than 10 mins with a Nigerian musician was with MI back in 2016 when we randomly bumped into each other at JoBurg airport. What I wanted to understand from the then major Nigerian labels; I met with Efe Omorogbe (Now Muzik), Obi Asika (Storm Records), Segun Demuren (EME), Audu Maikori (Chocolate City) and Ubi Franklin (MMMG) my question was simple. Why (or how) they had stood by and allowed someone who obviously had good intentions and was actively investing in their industry, be essentially taken advantage of? I had invested and lost $2m. With the right support, I was ready to invest and if need be lose $20m.”
“That’s the kind of game we play in technology. That it was very dangerous of them to allow their artists to not only lose respect for the value of contracts, but to break them? Very dangerous and potentially fatal. Little did I know that over the following five years, pretty much every label has lost their main artists in acrimonious contract disputes.”
“That genie is out of the bottle. No Nigerian artist really respects contracts or their labels. They are just biding their time until they blow so they can go solo. Today’s model for success in Nigerian music is performer-owner-operator of their own labels. Olamide, Flavour, Phyno etc. This isn’t by accident. It may be that A&R and the record label, as we traditionally know it, is dead in Nigeria.”
“In the end the company that generates the most revenue for the industry at large will stay in the game. Those who do not, will not. It’s that simple. I like simple things. IROKOtv was built on such a mantra.”
“So to start off. Is Iroking dead? Yes, yup of course. It officially died as a corporate entity over a year ago 27/03/2018.”