Music is deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture. It serves as a means of storytelling, a form of self-expression, and a reflection of the nation’s diverse cultural affinity. Nigerian music genres like Afrobeat, Afrobeats, and Highlife have captivated Nigerians’ hearts and gained global recognition. This was best envinced by Wizkid in his hit song, Ojuelegba, where he says, “My music travel no visa.”
At the moment, ‘afrobeats to the world’ is on the lips of everyone, as the genre is finally getting the recognition it deserves. This is evident from how our music tops charts like the UK Afrobeats Singles Chart and the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs Charts. The world is listening, and they can’t get enough of this sound. International artists have affirmed that they are infusing Afrobeats into their music.
Nigerian artists frequently tour internationally, attracting diverse audiences worldwide. However, the absence of a world-class concert venue in Nigeria hampers the country’s ability to showcase its musical prowess at home. As such, lacking a dedicated, state-of-the-art venue often means that major concerts and events are held in makeshift or smaller venues. While these spaces may suffice for some events, they do not provide the immersive and grand experiences that international artists are accustomed to delivering in venues like the O2 Arena or the Maddison square Garden.
In this article, we will explore the need for Nigeria to have its premier concert venue and the potential benefits it could bring to the country. But first, let’s start with the music venues in Nigeria.
The music venues in Nigeria
Music venues in Nigeria offer diverse options for artists and event organisers. From intimate bars to expansive outdoor stadiums, these venues cater to various musical genres and audience sizes.
Eko Hotel’s Convention Centre, Federal Palace’s Balmoral Hall, and Transcorp Hilton’s Congress Hall in Abuja are notable venues that come to mind when considering concert spaces in Nigeria. The preference for hotels as concert venues is largely due to its practicality. These hotels boast large-capacity halls, like the Eko Hotel’s convention centre, which accommodate up to 6,000 attendees.
Moreover, hotels offer the advantage of existing infrastructure and equipment, reducing event costs. However, since they are multipurpose facilities, extensive modifications are usually needed to install concert stages, making them less efficient for live music events. Also, hotels come with intense competition for availability since they are the most preferred choice.
While hotels are popular, artists are beginning to consider open spaces, particularly parks, due to their locations and layout customisations. For example, Muri Okunola Park has hosted Blackbonez and Native Mag’s NativeLand festivals. However, despite the practicality of using parks, obtaining permits, especially for publicly funded parks, can involve complex bureaucratic policies. Also, they require extensive setup and tear-down of concert stages, which can be time-consuming for the organisers.
In cities with coastal areas like Lagos, beaches are another favoured location for concert organisers; the landmark has played host to Wizkid’s vibes on the beach and Burnaboy’s outsider concerts. Beach venues provide the same flexibility as parks and open spaces but come with the added allure of a natural backdrop.
However, renting a beach venue can incur substantial costs and permitting requirements. Also, while providing a more intimate setting, they rely heavily on good weather conditions. Nigeria’s unpredictable climate, with the rainy season from March to July, can pose significant challenges for outdoor events, leaving organisers with limited options.
Why does Nigeria need its own purpose-built concert if we have these options?
To answer this, we must first establish that Nigeria does not have the proper infrastructure for concerts today. Instead, we have banquet halls. With that being said, let us consider the challenges that are surrounding concerts today.
Traffic and transportation pose a significant obstacle. Nigeria’s major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, are notorious for their heavy traffic congestion. Concertgoers frequently find themselves caught in traffic jams, making it difficult to reach the venue. Inadequate public transportation options and poorly maintained roads further compound the problem, leaving attendees with limited alternatives for getting to the event.
Venue accessibility is another common concern. Many concert venues are in densely populated areas with limited parking facilities, leaving attendees frustrated in their quest for parking spaces. Moreover, some venues lack the necessary infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities, making accessibility challenging.
Crowd Management is a significant concern when it comes to concerts in Nigeria. These events often draw large crowds, and the lack of effective crowd control measures can result in stampedes and overcrowding, posing serious risks to attendees. Nigerian authorities and event organisers sometimes struggle to implement adequate crowd management protocols, further exacerbating the issue.
Another pressing issue is the inadequate security measures at concert venues. Many locations lack essential security infrastructure, including proper screening of attendees, surveillance cameras, and trained security personnel. This deficiency leaves concertgoers vulnerable to various threats, such as theft, assault, and even the potential for terrorist attacks. Without proper security measures in place, the safety of attendees is compromised.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and theft, is another security challenge faced by concertgoers in Nigeria. Like in many other crowded environments, the dense crowds at concerts can provide cover for criminals to operate. The lack of security vigilance and oversight can make it easier for these individuals to target unsuspecting attendees, potentially leading to personal belongings being stolen and attendees feeling unsafe.
This is a significant challenge faced by concertgoers in Nigeria. Many concert venues nationwide often lack essential amenities, greatly affecting the overall concert experience. For instance, some venues lack adequate restroom facilities, resulting in long queues, unsanitary conditions, and discomfort for attendees. Additionally, insufficient seating options can lead to overcrowding, discomfort, and even safety hazards.
Given these related challenges, it becomes clear why Nigeria urgently needs a purpose-built concert venue of international stature.
What does having a purpose-built concert venue mean for the average concertgoer?
If you’ve ever been to a concert in Nigeria, there’s a high chance that the concert started late. One of the reasons behind the chronic lateness of many concerts in Nigeria is the choice of venues. Unlike dedicated concert venues found in other parts of the world, makeshift locations lack the infrastructure and equipment optimised for music events.
The advantages of having purpose-built concert venues are multifaceted. These venues come equipped with state-of-the-art sound systems, lighting rigs, and stage setups that ensure the highest quality of performances. Furthermore, they facilitate efficient logistics with organised backstage areas and loading docks, reducing the risk of delays and technical mishaps.
Safety is also paramount in such venues, with professional security personnel and crowd control measures in place. The comfort of concertgoers is considered with spacious seating arrangements and well-maintained facilities. This addresses issues related to overcrowding and discomfort often experienced in makeshift locations.
Purpose-built concert venues prioritise the experience for both artists and fans. Backstage amenities and green rooms are designed to meet the needs of performers, allowing them to focus on delivering their best performances. Fans, on the other hand, can enjoy unobstructed views, excellent acoustics, and immersive experiences, resulting in unforgettable concert memories.
Establishing world-class concert venues in Nigeria not only addresses existing challenges but also has the potential to catapult the country’s music industry to new heights. These venues can attract international artists on tour, further promoting Nigeria’s vibrant music scene and enhancing its reputation on the global stage. Afrobeats to the World!
The Economics of Building a purpose-built Concert Venue in Nigeria
The prospect of constructing a purpose-built concert venue in Nigeria is not merely a cultural aspiration; it is also a strategic economic move that holds the potential to yield substantial returns in various facets of the nation’s economy.
Building Nigeria’s O2 Arena comes with a multitude of benefits for both investors and the country as a whole. Let’s explore how this project can catalyse economic growth, job creation, tourism, and cultural development.
Stimulating Economic Growth
The construction of a purpose-built concert venue in Nigeria will create many jobs during the construction phase, from construction workers to engineers, architects, and support staff. This influx of employment opportunities will boost local income and stimulate spending, ultimately contributing to the growth of related industries such as hospitality, transportation, and retail.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry:
A world-class concert venue like the O2 Arena will become a magnet for tourists from within Nigeria and internationally. Fans and music enthusiasts from neighbouring countries and beyond will flock to Nigeria to witness their favourite artists perform on this prestigious stage. We’ve seen the surge with Ghana’s Year of Return. This surge in tourism will drive demand for accommodation, dining, transportation, and other hospitality services, providing a considerable boost to the hospitality industry and creating revenue opportunities for local businesses.
The economic benefits of an O2 Arena extend far beyond its walls. Revenues will flow from various sources, including ticket sales, sponsorships, advertising, merchandise, and concessions. These revenue streams will contribute to the arena’s long-term sustainability and profitability. Moreover, some of these proceeds could be reinvested in cultural and community development initiatives, further enriching the socio-economic landscape.
Cultural and Creative Industries:
Nigeria’s creative industries, particularly music and entertainment, have been on a remarkable upward trajectory. An O2 Arena will serve as the epicentre for these industries, attracting artists, producers, and industry professionals. It will also offer a platform for emerging talents to showcase their skills. The collaborative environment within the creative sector will foster innovation and contribute to the global export of Nigerian music and culture, leading to increased revenue from royalties, merchandise sales, and international partnerships.
Job Creation and Skills Development:
Beyond the construction phase, the operation and maintenance of the arena will generate numerous employment opportunities. A wide range of skilled professionals will be needed, from event managers to security personnel, ticketing agents, marketers, and concession workers. The training and development of this workforce will enhance their employability within the entertainment industry and across various sectors, contributing to the overall development of human capital.
Infrastructure improvements are imperative to accommodate the influx of visitors and ensure seamless access to the arena. This might involve upgrades to transportation systems, road networks, and parking facilities. These enhancements will benefit the arena and enhance urban mobility and accessibility, benefiting the broader community.
The construction and operation of an O2 Arena will elevate Nigeria’s global image as a cultural and entertainment powerhouse. It will demonstrate the nation’s commitment to nurturing its creative industries and celebrating its diverse cultural heritage. This positive association could attract foreign investments, foster international partnerships, and promote Nigeria as a destination for entertainment, technology, and tourism ventures.
According to Weforum, live music shows accounted for over 50% or approximately $25.6 billion of global music industry revenue before the pandemic, making it the highest revenue source for the industry.
Also, how concerts are run in Nigeria could dissuade international investors or festival planners looking to set up events in Nigeria. To make sense of this, it took Afro Native four years to host one in Nigeria.
The lack of suitable concert venues means Nigeria cannot tap into these sources as it should. Makeshift venues do not have the necessary equipment and are sometimes the reason for concerts starting late, thereby denying us of the immersive experience of attending a concert.