Developing The Music Industry In Cross River State For Job Creation And Economic Development BY EMMANUEL ETIM

In Breaking News, Business & Economy, Columnists, National News, Opinion
Emmanuel Etim
Emmanuel Etim

This week, as we continue our look at the potential of the creative industry for job creation and economic development in Cross River State we will focus how developing the music industry in the state can help achieve these set objectives.

Nigerian music consists of various genres and style, some of which are known worldwide. Little is known about the country’s music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.

Nigeria’s musical output has achieved international acclaim not only in the fields of folk and popular music, but also Western art music. In Cross River State, folk music has been part of our rich cultural heritage and recently popular music by many creative and talented Cross Riverians.

Cross River has produced many musical stars in Nigeria some of which include Inyang Nta Henshaw, Peter Effiom and Kingsley Burstic Bassey all of blessed memory. In recent times some of our contemporary leading music icons have included Feladey, Sunny Neji and Inyanya to name a few.

There are many other rising music talents in the state despite the challenging environment for growth of the industry in the state. This treatise seeks to encourage the Cross River State Government to support the development of the music industry in the state to create opportunity for more music talents in the state to blossom and contribute to economic development of the state.

Music is a great income earner and a catalyst for job and wealth creation. From song writers or lyricists, to music publishers, composers, producers, music recording and marketing companies, printing companies, CD, VCD, DVD manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of musical recordings, income generation in the music industry is broad-based and far reaching.

Others include dealers on musical instruments, studio and stage sound engineers, musicians, singers, dancers, promoters, talent scouts, entertainment writers and showbiz consultants, stage designers, lighting crew, structural engineers, advertising practitioners, media houses and many more professionals.

The popular music industry in Nigeria as in most parts of the world, hold great economic potentials. In Nigeria, this is testified to by increasing record sales which seems to defy Nigeria’s unstable economy. For example, statistic of record sales in Nigeria shows that in 1981, 4.5million records were sold; in 1986 5.5million; in 1991 8.5million and in 1995, 12 million records were sold nationwide.

Although the social content and context of performance, as well as mode of expression keep changing from one historical period to another, popular music practice has shown great potentials for economic development in the country. This industry if fully tapped, can help position the creative industry as a viable alternative to oil as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.

In the recently rebased Nigerian economy, the music industry which is classified under the “Motion pictures, sound recording and music production,” is one of the 13 new activities that have been included in the computation framework. The rebasing exercise shows that this sector of the national economy, which had been hugely underrated over the years, has made a huge leap.

Statistics indicated that the industry, which has a huge following across Africa and beyond, is now worth about N9trillion or 1.2 per cent of GDP. The share of the industry has risen sharply, from its once-insignificant status to become among the first five key sectors in the national economy.

In the light of this, it has become imperative that the Cross River State Government give attention to this important industry with a view to developing it in the state to create jobs for its teeming youths to contribute to economic development of the state.

It is worthy of note that the annual Calabar Festival has created a platform to promote the growth of the music industry in the state. Annually, hundreds of music talents seize the opportunity presented by the Calabar Festival to showcase their talents to the world by performing on the Calabar Festival stage and in the process building up their career.

The state government however must do more to support these budding talents in the state by creating policies, institutions and funding options that will help them grow and become world renowned artiste. A professionalized and institutionalized music industry can provide a sustainable means of economic growth in Cross River State.

Below are a few ways the Cross River State Government can support the growth of the music industry in the state.

First there is a need for specialization in the industry along well defined lines of creativity. The starting point for this will be professional and systematic training either in a formal or informal institution. This calls for the establishment of music academies in Cross River State. This will help in the process of institutionalizing the industry.

If the industry is institutionalized, then youths can be trained to specialize in specific areas like song writing, arrangement and production, music marketing and promotion, artiste management, studio engineering, band management, film music/jingles, performance, music journalism, dance/choreography among other branches of specialization.

Second, there is the need to help the industry evolve and strengthen professional bodies which will standardize and regulate practice. Strengthening professional bodies like PMAN to work to build the music industry in the state, will help it realize its full potentials in fostering economic development and social well being.

Third is the need for government to strengthen the laws and agencies responsible for the fight against piracy. Piracy is one of the major impediments against growth in the music industry in Nigeria. Over the years, efforts to curb piracy in the music industry in Nigeria have been unsuccessful.

The activities of pirates have jeopardized the returns on investments of artistes and producers, thereby undermining the economic rationale for copyright protection, and serving as a disincentive to prospective investors in the sector. This must be dealt with decisively with all stakeholders working hand in hand.

Fourth, the government must draw in investors and partner with them to establish world class music production and marketing outfits in the state to make it easier for artiste to produce and market quality music in Nigeria and beyond.

Often, it is the standard of the studio that determines the quality of the music production. If high quality studios are established in the state, manned by professionals in different fields, the music industry in Cross River State will become one of the leading in Nigeria and will contribute to making the state a preferred destination for music and entertainment tourism.

Fifth and final, government must seek to create conducive environment for the sustainable development of the music industry in the state. This can be achieved by creating incentives in form of tax rebates for investors in the music sector and providing power and Information and communication Technology infrastructure.


Beyond all of these, central to the achievement of the objective of developing the industry in the state is the ability to adapt to new technology, by maximizing the opportunities presented by such technology for the production and profitable distribution of music in the state and beyond.

Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria (

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