Digital Dialogue

Digital Dialogue is an interview/guest-blog series presented by Byta, and written by friends of Byta. Exploring niche, behind-the-scenes topics within the digital realm of the music ecosystem, Digital Dialogue presents readers with insights into challenges, successes and passion topics in the day-to-day life of those working deep in digital.

Stream Farming in Nigeria’s Music Ecosystem – Umeadi Onyekwelu (Mdundo)

Stream Farming in Nigeria’s Music Ecosystem – Umeadi Onyekwelu (Mdundo)

Who are you? Where do you work?

I’m Umeadi Onyekwelu, I’m the music licensing lead in West Africa here at Mdundo. I’m based in Lagos, Nigeria.

What are you currently listening to? 

I’m currently listening to:

  • Davido – Competition feat. Asake
  • Adekunle Gold – Party Node Stop feat. Zinolesky
  • Burna Boy – It’s Plenty
  • Victony – Soweto

Give us a small insight into your daily routine

I spend my day scouring social media for information pertaining to new music releases and also liaising with all major artists and labels within my focus market (Nigeria and Ghana) to keep Mdundo up to date with the latest releases and also ensure my team is on track with set deliverables.

Stream Farming in Nigeria’s Music Ecosystem:

The music industry in Nigeria is structured in such a way that artists/distributors are constantly seeking out what value is being offered from any DSP before deciding whether or not to onboard content. The company I work with, Mdundo, is fairly new within the Nigerian music scene hence the challenge is getting the creatives/distributors in West Africa to understand our unique value offering within the music ecosystem in Africa. It is a pan-African digital platform that fills the void of creators and their teams being unable to reach a wider audience due to music fans having low-end feature phones. Users of mdundo.com can freely and legally download an unlimited amount of tunes in mp3 format from their favourite artists.

My role is to act as a bridge between Mdundo and the various creatives whose contents we intend to onboard in West Africa. Although this can be tasking, understanding the music structure in West Africa has helped me manage this challenge. We have greatly increased the number of artists/creatives and distributors on Mdundo all while improving our value proposition and revenues.

Looking at the music industry in Nigeria, one of the biggest problems is stream farming which has become more widespread and prominent over the years.

Stream farming is an illegal way of increasing the number of times a track is played or listened to. All this is done in an attempt to achieve better chart positions and virality. This is accomplished in a number of ways, through the aid of software bots or systematically putting a song on repeat using numerous phones in a confined area which can result in songs being streamed up to 1,000 times per minute, which means that in 10 minutes they may give a track a stream/download count of more than 10,000 fake streams/downloads of their song.

Obviously, some view this as a means to further promote their content and develop their career, make money and top charts. I believe that over time it waters down the real efforts being made towards genuine promotion and the euphoria associated with attaining actual success. It’s important for people to understand that while stream farming might look like a fast and easy way to boost numbers and get attention (though illegal) it does nothing to actually build a career.

Organic growth of artists’ content helps build longevity and places genuine high value on the body of work and the artist in the long run. While the shortcut might seem like an easy way into the larger market initially, eventually it will catch up and potentially ruin a career. It is imperative for creatives and distributors to understand that integrity is key when it comes to the long-term value of the content they release. 

In an ever-dynamic market like Nigeria where 100+ tracks are released weekly, competition is intense to top the charts and get the desired recognition which fuels the artists’ ego and their careers. Some labels/artists opt for the quick fix and use stream farming. This has greatly influenced charts all over the country. The continued use of this approach sooner or later discredits the chart positions as fake, which in turn detrimentally affects the artist, their teams and the labels engaged in this practice. In the long term it just does not work.

Where should readers go to find out more? Any further reading or digital gurus to recommend?

More about stream farming on these articles:

Thanks for taking part in Byta‘s Digital Dialogue series, Umeadi!