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Gidi’s Chin Okeke named MD, UMG Nigeria

Chinedu Okeke, founder of promoter Eclipse Live and executive producer of ‘Coachella in Lagos’, Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival, has been named managing director of Universal Music Nigeria.

Reporting to Sipho Dlamini, who has been also promoted to CEO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, Okeke will oversee the expansion of Universal Music Group (UMG)’s operation in both Nigeria and other English-speaking west African countries.

The hiring of Okeke is one of a trio of new appointments for UMG in Africa, with Elouise Kelly also joining as COO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, similarly reporting to the newly elevated Dlamini.

The leadership appointments cement UMG parent Vivendi’s focus on growing its activities in Africa, which also include similar initiatives in French-speaking west Africa, where the company has built a string of entertainment venues and cinemas.

UMG, the world’s largest recorded music company, is itself active in Nigeria, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco and South Africa.

“There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world”

“There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world,” says Dlamini, “as it continues to influence and inspire culture and creativity while reaching a wider audience globally each day through streaming.

“I am delighted to welcome both Elouise and Chin to the UMG family; their unique skills and experiences will only help to further establish UMG as a bedrock within the African music community that will continue to put the interests and opportunities for artists first and help elevate African talent to new levels of success at home and abroad.”

Adam Granite, UMG’s EVP of market development, adds: “I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to further develop our domestic infrastructure and label rosters within Africa. Most integral to achieving our long-term ambitions is to build a strong leadership team on the ground, with deep foundations in each country, to help grow a dynamic ecosystem for all to benefit in the future.

“Over the past few years, Sipho has shown great leadership, commitment and vision for music in Africa, helping UMG to introduce new talent to audiences around the world and identify opportunities to lead the industry in licensing and supporting new platforms to reach African music fans.

“Elouise and Chin both bring welcome new skills, proven entrepreneurship and important leadership experience that will only serve to bolster UMG’s position as the market leader across Africa.”

 


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Coronavirus claims South African promoters

Two popular South African concert promoters have died of Covid-19.

Thirty-five-year-old Pheko Kgengoe and Shonisani Lethole, 33, both passed away on 30 June after being admitted to hospitals in Johannesburg after contracting the coronavirus.



Lethole was known locally for his workshops connecting African artists with international opportunities. Siyabonga Mthembu, co-founder of Afro-jazz group the Brother Moves On, tells Music in Africa Lethole made an “immense” contribution to the South African music scene.

He comments: “Shoni introduced us to our first real manager, Adi Frost. His endeavoured to connect African artists. […] He introduced the new artists to the old-school players. Shoni respected and loved us all. He showed the kind of love for music that made him a big part of the Johannesburg live music scene.”

“I hear so many people saying the dearest things about Shoni now – his close friends in Johannesburg and his close-at-heart, far-away friends in Oslo, Copenhagen, London and Los Angeles,” says Norwegian promoter and distributor Trond Torner, who worked with Lethole.

“Shoni respected and loved us all”

“And I feel I’m not alone when experiencing a deep vacuum from where Shoni would be. He felt like a brother to us all. Shoni’s name will be forever.”

Kgengoe’s career included spells at Universal Music and Sony Music, and he later established his own PR company, 4 the Love.

“He was very passionate and contributed a lot to the music industry. His death is a loss to the whole industry,” says local music PR specialist Thabisa Mogwathle. “It has not fully sunk in that he is gone. He was a friend, a brother and a business partner as we worked on various projects together.”

Authorities are investigating the circumstances of Lethole’s death at Tembisa Hospital, after he tweeted he had not eaten for 48 hours in the days leading up to his passing.

There has been a surge in coronavirus cases in South Africa in recent weeks, with localised outbreaks reported in Johannesburg and Pretoria as Africa’s most developed country goes back to work.

 


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Events are ready to reopen, says SA industry

South Africa’s Event Safety Council (ESC) has released a set of guidelines it says will allow the safe reopening of the live events sector in the country.

The document, produced in partnership with the ESC’s partners in a new industry umbrella organisation, the similarly named SA Events Council, aims to assist South Africa’s hard-hit live business in resuming activity as soon and as safely as possible, in accordance with local regulations.

Production of the guidelines saw the ESC collaborate with other international organisations, including the Event Safety Alliance in the US, ensuring global best practice is “embedded throughout” the report, according to the organisation.

As of 18 June, South Africa is allowing small gatherings of under 50 people, under alert level three of its lockdown regulations.

“We are pleased to see the industry coming together to embrace safety protocols that protect employers, employees and freelancers”

With the release of the guidelines, the SA Event Council is working towards reopening the sector further. Among its recommendations are enhanced protocols related to sanitisation, cleaning, hygiene, attendee management, venue requirements and more.

“The event industry already carries out comprehensive risk assessment, safety checks and logistical planning for every event, so including a Covid-19 mitigation plan as an extension of existing event planning mechanisms is easily achievable,” says Mike Lord, the ESC’s interim chairman.

Kevan Jones, executive director of SACIA, the ESC’s parent organisation, adds: “During these difficult times we are pleased to see organised industry coming together to embrace safety protocols that protect employers, employees and freelancers working in the events industry.

“We look forward to fruitful and positive outcomes from these engagements. As representatives of the events sector, we remain engaged in looking for solutions to rebuild the economy of this much-needed sector.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Africa Day concert raises awareness for Covid-19

Over 100 artists and celebrities from across Africa and the diaspora came together on Africa Day on 25 May to take part in a two-hour virtual concert aimed at raising awareness about the fight against the pandemic.

Modelled on the Lady Gaga-curated One World: Together at Home concert, the show saw performances from artists including Angelique Kidjo, Wizkid, Salif Keita and Fally Ipupa and was hosted by actor and musician Idris Elba.

Senagalese star Youssou N’Dour also sang a remote duet with Coldplay’s Chris Martin as part of the awareness-raising event.

The show was broadcast online by the World Afro Network (WAN) and on 200 African television channels.

“We must show our resilience and share our commitment as Africans to overcome this and grow stronger from it”

“We face an extraordinary challenge but we cannot afford to be spectators. We must show our resilience and share our commitment as Africans to overcome this and grow stronger from it,” commented supermodel Naomi Campbell as part of the broadcast.

“Use your voice to call our leaders in Africa to use this crisis as a moment to build our solidarity and deal with deep structural issues that affect our nations and their economies.”

More than 115,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported across Africa, with the virus reaching every country on the continent of 1.2 billion people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Covid-19 could kill up to 190,000 people across the continent and infect between 29 million and 44m in the first year if containment measures fail.

 


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South Africa’s DreamStream fest breaks Zoom record

Ticketing and cashless payments platform Howler recently hosted the world’s largest Zoom music festival in aid of the South African live entertainment industry.

DreamStream – the biggest virtual festival to date to utilise videoconferencing service Zoom, and South Africa’s first large-scale online music event – ran from 24 to 26 April and featured livestreamed performances by 33 South African artists.

The festival raised nearly R500,000 (€25,000) in donations for the South African Fund 4 Entertainment (SAFE), an industry backed initiative formed to help those worst affected by the coronavirus and the ban on live events. Over 50,000 people in 130 countries viewed the stream over the course of the weekend.

“The two-way experience connected people in their homes like no other stream has done yet,” says Shai Evian, Howler CEO. “We wanted to create an experience that felt like a true festival with your friends. This was a ticket-only event and the fact that we had over 50,000 people through the online ‘gates’ for an online event that wasn’t streamed via social media is really something different.”

“We see a world where an online virtual experience will coexist alongside real-world festivals”

“What is even more exciting is that we believe we have unlocked a product that can live beyond the Covid-19 crisis,” he adds. “We see a world where an online virtual experience will coexist alongside real-world festivals, reaching far wider audiences globally and creating new revenue streams.”

The funds raised by DreamStream are being used to purchase food vouchers for the crew suffering the most under the current lockdown.

“SAFE is a platform for all online initiatives to support our crippled industry,” says Evian. “The support from the SA government is much smaller, financially, than some other countries. Based on the applications to SAFE to date we need to raise US$1 million just to feed our industry.”

Find out more, or donate to SAFE, at safefund.org.za.

 


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Headliners revealed for biggest-ever Gidi Fest

Gidi Culture Festival, the largest music and arts festival in West Africa, has announced Naira Marley, Flavour and Rema as the headliners for this year’s event, which is expanding to three days for 2020.

Taking place from 9 to 11 April at the 14.5-hectare Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, the seventh edition of Gidi Fest has the theme of ‘Bringing it home’, celebrating the increasing numbers of people returning to the Nigerian city for the event.

Co-founded by Chin Okeke of promoter Eclipse Live, previous editions of the festival have featured the likes of Wizkid, Maleek Berry, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido, Teni, Diplo and Moonchild Sanelly.

Naira Marley, who moved to the UK from Nigeria as a child, is making his Gidi Fest debut this year, following an appearance at Wizkid’s Starboy Fest at the O2 Arena (20,000-cap.) last year and a recent sold-out show at O2 Academy Brixton (5,000-cap.).

“To be considered the biggest and most long-standing festival in the region is an incredible achievement”

Teenage rapper Rema will kick the festival off on the first day with a bill focused on the sound of Nigerian youth., whereas multi-instrumentalist Flavour is set to head up the rhythm and soul-themed second day.

“2020 is all about bringing it home, whilst also throwing the most global cultural celebration for the Gidi Tribe yet, with a new venue, two extra days, and so much exciting and important music, art, food and games to share,” comments Gidi Fest and Eclipse Live co-founder Chin Okeke, who is speaking at the upcoming Futures Forum in London.

“It’s been a rewarding seven-year journey so far and and everything just keeps growing year on year, to now be considered the biggest and longest-standing festival in the region is an incredible achievement.

“We can’t wait to welcome more new people to Lagos than ever before, showcase the best creative artists in Africa, and show our thriving hometown of Lagos to the world this Easter.”

Fans can register for tickets and travel packages to Gidi Fest here.

 


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Zim promoters hurt by fake ticket scam

Concert promoters in Zimbabwe have been left counting their losses after a fake ticket scam hit Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, over the festive period.

Bogus tickets for major shows – including South African rapper Sjava at the 12,000-cap. Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC) – flooded the market in December, according to the Bulawayo Chronicle, with people attempting to enter concerts using fake stubs.

Scams involving fake concert tickets are common in parts of southern Africa. Drake fans in South Africa were recently duped into spending up to R18,000 (US$1,250) for VIP ‘tickets’ for non-existent dates in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Promoter Patrice Manyathela, who is organising Amapiano Kings, a show by South African artists DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small at the BAC this Saturday (25 January), tells the Chronicle: “There are fake tickets circulating and this has gotten us worried. We don’t want to resort to it, but if a person buys a fake ticket and gets caught, they’ll be handed over to the police.”

According to Statista, the emerging Zimbabwean live music market will be worth US$4 million 2020 – up 23.1% year on year – though just 300,000 people (1.8% of the population) will see a concert.

 


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Gidi Culture Fest releases Lagos documentary

The brains behind Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival have launched #MyGidi, a mini-documentary about the city of Lagos.

The 20-minute video follows the journey of individuals including African Gqom and house artist Moonchild Sanelly, Ghanian hip hop act Joey B and New York-based singer-songwriter Bridget Kelly around the Nigerian city.

As part of Black History Month, #MyGidi was screened to audiences in Los Angeles, New York, London, Berlin and Lagos during October and November, before the online release.

Produced by Chin Okeke, co-founder of Gidi Fest promoter Eclipse Live and Alex Duncan of 84 Projects, #MyGidi expands on a six-part web series released in January 2019, which was created during an excursion in Easter 2018 by four international content creators.

“Providing the opportunity for discovery, enlightenment, culture and experience, #MyGidi is something everyone in the diaspora should experience”

“The ability to have access to Africa is something I don’t take lightly,” comments Duncan. “The quest for my own understanding as a member of the African Diaspora is something I realised I needed to share with others.

“Providing the opportunity for discovery, enlightenment, culture and experience, I believe #MyGidi is something everyone in the diaspora should experience.”

Okeke adds: “This project has changed my life. Understanding how different all our black stories are and how important it is that we are more accepting and empathetic about them.

“I’ve been moved by how it has inspired others and even more so how it has motivated us to take charge of our narrative because it will heal.”

Gidi Fest, the largest music festival in west Africa, is returning in Easter 2020 for its 7th edition, expanding from a one-day event into a four-day festival.

 


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Shows axed amid South Africa violence

Several artists have cancelled upcoming shows in South Africa, as the looting and violence which has left five foreigners dead continues.

Nigerian musicians Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Banky W, as well as comedian Basketmouth, have announced they are boycotting South Africa after a week of rioting that targeted non-South Africans, primarily Nigerians, and foreign-owned businesses.

Burna Boy, who is booked for Afropunk Festival in Johannesburg on new year’s eve, tweeted that he will “not ever go to South Africa again” unless the South African government takes action against the rioters, while Tiwa Savage, who was to perform at Delicious Festival on 21 September, says she won’t “watch the barbaric butchering of my people”.

The Nigerian government has threatened “definitive” action to protect its citizens in South Africa, as tensions rise between Africa’s two largest economies. “The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” it said in a statement, announcing it had also withdrawn its ambassador.

Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, xenophobic violence has been a longstanding feature in the ‘new’ South Africa, according to a recent report by the African Center for Migration and Society, reports the New York Times.

According to the Times, South Africa’s black townships have seen previous outbreaks of xenophobic violence that claimed lives in 2008 and 2015.

 


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Event Genius Pay to make African debut

UK event technology company Event Genius has announced a new cashless payment deal with the inaugural Ghanian edition of Afro Nation festival this December.

Event Genius has partnered with festivals and events across Europe and Asia including Portugal’s BPM Festival, Jika Jika! in Northern Ireland, Parklife in Manchester, UK and Annie Mac’s Lost and Found festival in Malta

Under the new deal, the company will take its cashless payment technology to Africa for the first time.

The Ghanian edition of Afro Nation festival is scheduled from the 27 to 30 December, with an expected attendance of 15,000. Alkaline, Burna Boy and J Hus are among acts to appear on the line-up.

Festivalgoers will be able to pre-purchase credit to pay for food, drink and merchandise at the event using RFID-enabled wristbands.

“We’re delighted to partner with a ticketing and technology company capable of providing a true end-to-end event platform for the inception of Afro Nation”

Event Genius is powering the ticketing for Afro Nation Ghana through the Ticket Arena website and a white label box office. Using the Entry Genius app, organisers will be able to manage entry points, track attendance and reduce ticket fraud.

“We’re delighted to partner with a ticketing and technology company capable of providing a true end-to-end event platform for the inception of Afro Nation,” says Obi Asika, chief executive of Afro Nation.

“Through our partnership with Ticket Arena and Event Genius, fans are assured the best possible experience from buying tickets, to entering the festival safely and ultimately enjoying their time dancing on the beach, without the need to worry about money or queues for drinks.”

The first-ever Afro Nation festival took place in Portimão, Portugal this year from 1 to 4 August, with performances from Wizkid, Davido, Ms Dynamite and Stefflon Don.

 


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