Women In Music Launch Nigerian Chapter to Empower Nigerian Female Musicians 

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In February, Women In Music (WIM) wrote a love letter to the Nigerian music industry. The non-profit organization launched its Nigerian chapter, which intends to cater to Nigerian female musicians and creatives. In line with its overarching mission, the newly launched chapter wants to provide up-and-coming Nigerian musicians and creatives a supportive network, visibility for their talents, musical education, funding, and career opportunities. WIM aims to advance female creatives and entrench gender equality in a Nigerian music industry that’s predominantly a boys’ club.

Its newly launched Nigerian branch is its second African chapter — its first was established in South Africa in 2020. WIM has over 25 chapters across the globe, in the United States, Canada, Japan, and elsewhere. It has previously partnered with top-crust companies, including TuneCore, Amazon Music, TikTok, and ASCAP.

Despite its 35 years of existence (it was established in New York in 1985), it has only just touched Nigerian shores. WIM co-founder and singer-producer, Eony Ugorji, believes that the ongoing large-scale export of Nigerian pop music makes 2022 the “perfect moment” for WIM’s arrival.

Including Ugorji, WIM’s committee chair members are Stephanie Adamu, Chioma Onuchukwu, Stepney Bassey, Aibee Abidoye, and Tosin Sorinola. It was Ugorji and Adamu, however, whom I interviewed, to learn in detail what Women In Music wishes to achieve with its Nigerian chapter, the latter of the mentioned women the Vice-Chair for Marketing and Communications at WIM.

 

What are your organization’s goals and what purpose will the new Nigerian chapter serve?

Ugorji: Our core mission is to advance, empower, educate, and create opportunities for women in the music industry. We want to create an industry that’s very supportive of women. Not just musicians, but women in the creative arts in general. To this end, we will put together workshops, seminars, etc.

Adamu: This is something we’ve been doing in our other chapters, and what we want to do now in the Nigerian music scene. I think it’s amazing because this is the organization that’s been long anticipated in the Nigerian music space.

Why did it take so long for WIM to turn its lens towards Nigeria? Why now?

Ugorji: It’s been something that’s been long coming. I feel like now was a perfect time, because as we all know the Nigerian music industry is really thriving globally. And considering that Nigeria is the most populous African nation, and also because many of the key music advocates in Africa come from Nigeria. So it couldn’t be delayed any longer. And also considering that we now have many female artists coming up and doing really well.

What challenges faced by women in the Nigerian music industry have WIM recognized?

Adamu: There’s always the issue of sexual harassment, and this is everywhere. Not just in the music industry. There’s also the issue of funding and that, female musicians here don’t get as much recognition as their male counterparts. WIM is trying to provide a network for these women and show them that they don’t have to rely on men.

Ugorji: We are also trying to resolve the male domination in the industry. You see a record label with five male artists but only one female; award shows award more male musicians than females. This results in a sort of competition among the females, as they fight to have the sole spot. We are trying to break that bias. It’s not going to happen overnight. But we believe that it’s going to change. We are about bringing certain conversations to the forefront.

How will you provide funding to Nigerian female artists?

Ugorji: We’ll provide funding schemes and work with key organizations in the industry to raise funds.

Is owning record labels part of WIM’s intentions?

Ugorji: The possibilities are endless. It’s likely to be more about partnering with record labels and organizations to help up-and-coming artists, and also creatives, female record labels, etc.

Are there specific kinds of female musicians in mind or will WIM focus on those whose genre and talents are likely to be profitable?

Adamu: It’s open to everybody in terms of resources. There’s no bias. We are not here to make a profit. We aren’t selling the artists; we are just here to provide the resources that they don’t normally have reach to, so they use them in bettering their craft.

What is the long-term impact that you want WIM to have on the Nigerian musical landscape?

Ugorji: Creating an industry that’s very accommodating and understanding of women, creating more diversity for female musicians (in terms of diversifying peoples’ expectations of how a female artist should be. One artist can choose to be a tomboy; the other can choose to be sexy. When I say diversity, I mean encouraging and supporting difference.), create an industry where women are being awarded and recognized no matter the role you’re playing (manager, female songwriter) – such as having a female award show for instance, similar to the Women In Music Show hosted in the U.S. The Headies, despite its virtues, is still very male-dominated. Having events, where especially female artists, can put up a show and be celebrated. Encourage conversations: about sexual harassment, women supporting women (female collaborations, in music), and mental health.

Adamu: Music has the power to do incredible good and women in our industry have the passion and drive to lead others by example. Connecting and collaborating is what will make Women in Music Nigeria a unique and thoughtful creative hub.

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